Picking up research ideas

Back at Blythe House Archive – the plan today was to get some close-up images of the embroideries using the DinoLite microscope camera.

T.230-1929: pattern 19 (photograph)
T.230-1929: pattern 19 (microscope photograph)

The images from the microscope are much more detailed but I will have to splice them together as the focus area is quite small. I’m not sure how much additional detail will be gained over the photographs – I’ll have to work with both once I get back to the studio.

Today I was introduced to another PhD student, Rosie Taylor-Davies (http://www.taylordaviesdesign.co.uk/), who is working on 18th century embroidery. I was very much inspired by her approach to research, in particular the research books she has produced for each object she is working with – I took some notes on the things she included that might influence my own approach (shared with permission):

  • Details on how the object was documented:
    * photo slices using a sliding camera rig;
    * scanning;
    * colour analysis.
  • History of the object:
    * provenance;
    * design sources.
  • Reconstruction:
    * documentation of process;
    * side-by-side comparisons of details.
  • Overall design diagrams (hand drawn) acting as a reference map.

I also had quite an interesting conversation when trying to explain my research, during which I had a moment of clarity regarding an aspect of my PhD that has been bothering me.
There has always been two approaches to the digital aspect of this project. The first is about the geometric structure of the patterns and digitally tracking the stitch paths – essentially regarding the patterns as visual algorithms – to create reconstructions. This could also be applied to the later, free form, speckled blackwork – but, I’ve had a niggle in the back of my mind that applying this ‘system’ to that style of blackwork would be artificial and the results inadequate. However, the second aspect of digital technology I am interested in pursuing is about physically integrating electronics into fabric to create reactive surfaces (trying to bring forward something of the materiality of textiles) – and I think this could work quite beautifully with the free-from blackwork.
In the back of my mind, I already have several ideas for pieces around these two ‘modes’ – indeed I’m already working on projects that explore both. However, I’ve been pensively wondering how to bring these two approaches together. What I realised during today’s brief conversation is that I don’t have to.
They are two separate (but related) approaches.

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