Electronic Needlework

Electronic Needlework shows three framed historic plates from the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers describing and picturing “Brodeur” (embroiderer), and three object frames with diverse electronic textile needlework materials, tools, and application samples.

The three plates date from the 18th century, when Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert published the Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts (eng). The Encyclopedia became a major work of the Enlightenment, contributing significantly to the recording of and thinking about then-current techniques and professions. Its plates illustrate materials, tools, and sample applications of, in this case, embroidery and provide a brief explanation for each item pictured. This encyclopedian presentation served as a model for a speculative description of electronic needlework. The object frames display an evolving selection of materials and tools that I use as part of my eTextile practice. Many of the samples are the exact same as described in the 18th century: metal threads, sequins, needles, embroidery frames, etc. In the object frames they are placed next to Pin Probes and Connectable Needlework tools and along with exemplary electronic textile work, contextualising the use of (historic) textile materials to handcraft the digital.

Installation views from the Exhibition „Textile Techniken“, Galerie Hollenstein, Lustenau. Photo: Miro Kuzmanovic

Image on top: BRODEUR, PLATE I & II, Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (English: Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts): description and illustrations.

ELECTRONIC NEEDLEWORK PLATE I, materials and small tools to perform electronic needlework: thick and thin metal threads, steel thread, thin copper wire, cotton thread, pins, needles, needle holder, various size metal sequins, decorative tinsel elements, various size magnetic beads, glass beads, bouillon wire; and pattern samples of what could be made: winding small coils to move magnetic beads, lacework to craft display elements, beading work to weave a USB cable.

ELECTRONIC NEEDLEWORK PLATE II, pattern sample or an embroidery performing digital logic functions when activated: prototyping cords connect the embroidery to a battery to apply power, switching the connection turns the tinsel decorated magnetic beads and thus routes according to signals.

ELECTRONIC NEEDLEWORK PLATE III, needlework probes and exemplary application scenario: A seam ripper is connected to a multimeter (black cord), the multimeter is also connected to a pin probe (red cord), these probes allow for good electrical contact to delicate textile material. Upper right shows a crochet hook and the possibility to connect at its end, a steel embroidery in the making, and a clip probe connecting to the steel fiber on the other side to measure e.g. its resistance.

Images: Installation detail from the exhibition „Textile Techniken“, Galerie Hollenstein, Lustenau. Photo: Miro Kuzmanovic

Control Shift. October 2 – October 18 2020. Bristol Public Library, Bristol, UK.

Textile Techniken. November 16 – December 15 2019. Galerie Hollenstein, Lustenau, AT.

Irene Posch, 2023