Looms in Motion: A one-week PENELOPE event

Interested in remotely controlling our robots?

Keen on listening to patterns?

Curious to see how Penelope’s unweaving might have looked like?

Visit our looms-in-motion.eu platform for information and participation related to our nine projects. You can register via the event page of simply enjoy the online content.

Ulaṭbānsi / Zigzagging

We are proud to present a film initiated by the PENELOPE project and produced by the Handloom Futures Collaborative at Hyderabad, India. While conducting our comparative study of weaving culture in archaic Greece and contemporary India, we realized a lot of similarities like weaving terms and concepts featuring in poetry, music and dance, or even philosophy.

Due to the pandemic, we were not able to invite the weavers to the Deutsches Museum as planned for October. So we decided to make that film to convey the complex culture of Indian weaving that cannot simply be presented in a text or talk.

Penelope Weaving / Unweaving

One of the warp-weighted looms in the PENELOPE laboratory carries a fabric resembling the fabric depiction on the famous Skyphos of the Penelope painter unearthed at Chiusi in Italy. Weaving the design was a long and complex process that you can follow here by watching videos showing the steps of the weaving process.

The first video shows the setup and tablet-weaving of the figured border. The second video fives details on weaving the double weave part. A third video shows how Penelope could have done the unweaving – and actually demonstrates that the processes are almost indistinguishalbe.

The Ancient Digital Loom

This project presents two interviews of Ellen Harlizius-Klück, conducted by Pauline Diebenbusch for the M*Vlog of Deutsches Museum in the PENELOPE Laboratory of the Museum for Plaster Casts, Munich. They give insights into the PENELOPE project and its aim to demonstrate that weaving has been a binary technology from the very beginning.

The original interview language was German. However, for looms-in-motion, our research assistant Julin Lee provided English subtitles.

Code • Weave • Music

Julin also conducted an online interview with our team member Alex McLean, resulting in a chat about creative technologies like weaving and live coding music. The interview gives an introduction into live-coding as well as into the live loom developed by Alex.

The image to the left presents a screenshot of the coding environment for the live loom and displays the result.

Listening to Algorithmic Patterns

As part of the looms-in-motion programme, and as demonstration of the connection of patterns and algorithms, team member Alex McLean will hold a live, online workshop, where participants will listen to algorithmic patterns together, which Alex will create live using his free/open source ‘live coding’ system TidalCycles, which he has developed extensively during the PENELOPE project.

Alex will also compare algorithms for music-making with those for weaving, with respect to the different sonic and textile constraints at play.

Pattern Matrix Simulation

If you like to experience the complexity of pattern construction for weaves, you should try out our pattern matrix simulation, developed by ThenTryThis (formerly FoAm Kernow) and Dave Griffiths.

The pattern matrix basically represents how a warp-weighted loom works fo some patterns. You can try a selection of proposed patterns of which some also appear in ancient contexts. Or you just invent a pattern of your own.

Remote Maypole Robot Dancing

At several instances, we presented our pattern matrix as controlling our small tablet-woven robots in PENELOPEan performances.

Due to restrictions by the pandemic, ThenTryThis developed a remote control maypole dance in which you may take part along the looms-in-motion week. You will find a possibility to register on the project page or the event page.

Tablet-Weaving the SDGs

Verena Winiwarter from the Austrian Academy of Sciences proposed this project to us in 2019. She is an Austrian environmental historian with an interest in forwarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (https://sdgs.un.org/goals). However, she realized that the progress of the SDG implementation is far behind estimates, and she suspected the representation of the goals as colored quadrangles to be part of the reason for this.

Verena had the idea of tablet-weaving the SDGs, exploring the potential of a different type of representation that accounts for their networked nature and complexity.

Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement

As part of our project, we have explored the weaving of codes and musical scores, including in craft and art performance, including the curation of AlgoMech (the festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement) in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Dozens of artists explored algorithmic and/or mechanical patterns, including such patterns inspired by weaving and other textile artforms.

We will launch a short film about a recent AlgoMech drop-in family workshop, where choreographer and researcher Rosamaria Cisneros, live-coder Lucy Cheesman and Alex McLean introduced participants to patterns across flamenco, music and weave.


Ellen Harlizius-Klück

I am a researcher interested in the order and logic of making textiles and its impact on the history of technology and science.

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