read excerpts from Ruth's statement:

GPS tracks: technology, narratives, nature, and patterns

Over the last eight years I have been using GPS (Global Positioning System) to track all of my local trips which I then notate as drawings and personal narratives. Patterns emerge via the abstract lines that represent my everyday activities. Where my GPS drawings deal with personal and localized narratives, my woven Google Earth images provide a more global and historic context. Finding inspiration in both science and art, I try to confuse the boundaries of these apparently distinct fields. The resulting art work includes prints, embroideries, digital Jacquard weavings, and a web project.

Cyborgs + Myths + Technology + Nature
GPS technology symbolizes the Cyborgian reality that is becoming part of my daily life. I am both subject and object while I travel through the natural world and this information is captured by technology. I watch myself move on a GPS device that receives its readings from a minimum of three satellites stationed far above. Donna Haraway in the Cyborg Manifesto proposes fluid boundaries between humans, animals, and machines, instead of defining them in opposition. She suggests, "We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short we are Cyborg” (149-150) challenging our assumptions about the natural and the man-made. Given that Cyborgs act in the frontier of the unknown, they have the added advantage of being fictional beings able to act in a variety of fantasy scenarios. Through this specific aspect of contemporary technology I gain new awareness.

My notion of the Cyborg evolved from my earlier interest in the Greek myths related to weaving, particularly the mythic weavers Penelope and Arachne, who were able to shape history through their weaving thus creating a powerful recorded language for women.

I am interested in technologies that deviate from their initial intentions, such as the Jacquard loom, which led to the invention of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer about which Ada Lovelace wrote, “The Analytical Engine Weaves Algebraic Patterns just as the Jacquard Loom Weaves Flowers and Leaves” (Essinger).

Silkroads: digital jacquard weaving
Silkroads, a recent artist residency project at the Surrey Art Gallery Tech lab, involved traveling via Google Earth and placing old textiles on these virtual soils and then weaving the resulting images on digital Jacquard looms. The work combines old and new technology with various views of travel, trade, and textiles. Google Earth might be considered one of the least exotic means of travel, compared to the travels of Aurel Stein and other early western explorers and cartographers who traveled the Silk Road during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in order to map the land and discover its treasures. Here the “tracks” are actual mountain passes through which the textiles and spices travelled via caravans along with new ideas, religions, and technologies. The original Silk Road is now traversed by the Karakoram Highway, the highest country-spanning paved road in the world and still a difficult route to travel. Sogdian Child's Coat on the Karakoram Highway; 38°56' N 75°25' E, was woven as an industrial Jacquard weaving, a process generally reserved for large production runs, but now adapted for single pieces. I placed the historic child’s coat onto Google Earth and created from this a blanket. During the 8th century, the design had traveled via the Silkroad from Persia to Sogdiana, a central Asian kingdom that no longer exists. In Sogdiana, the design was adapted, woven, and worn by a royal child, who bore the figures of standing ducks in pearl roundels on the coat, reflecting the foreign iconography of its origins.


Read Robin Laurence's review of Silkroads

See more images and read Ruth's statement in TCR 3.22