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  • Alissa Vanlandingham

Gallery Preview - Coded Threads

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

Cascading macrame arches, projected blankets of protest, hard-wired weavings, infinitesimal typewritings, glowing yams and even a new perspective on Spock.

These are just some of the things one might encounter when visiting the newest exhibition, aptly titled Coded Threads: Textile and Technology, at the Western Gallery at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The exhibition is curated by textile artist and Western art professor Seiko A. Purdue with the help of another university art professor, Pierre Gour. The exhibit features 14 visual artists from around the world, with Purdue’s own work included.

While one might consider there to be a sharp contrast between the most modern technology and an ancient art like weaving, Seiko encouraged visitors of the exhibit to think deeper and consider the true origins of our technological advances.

She offered up a linguistic example, noting the roots of words we associate with technology and/or modernity such as textile, website and network, and pointing out how the roots of those words- text, web and net- are the ancient, precursor words that were simply built upon.

Modernity expanding on tradition is a message portrayed through nearly all works featured in the exhibit.

Nothing is left out in the case of either textiles or technology, either. There are silken streamers, traditional weavings and garments but also wires, metal corsets, LED screens, and even a dress that reacts to the breath of the wearer.

There is a balance between pieces, some black and white and others bursting with color, but the theme remains clear throughout: the collaboration between art and technology presents limitless opportunity.

Gallery director Hafþór Yngvason said, despite some weariness of an overly technological world, he finds the exhibition very hopeful.

“Look at North Korea, nuclear warfare,” he said. “We know technology isn't all good. But this exhibit- it’s very positive. It shows that technology can be used for good.”

The exhibit features works from renowned artists like legendary weaver Lia Cook. Her featured weavings greet you at the door of the gallery as larger-than-life faces, black and white with seemingly abstract ribbons of color overlaying them.

In her statement accompanying the works, Cook explains that she works closely with neuroscientists and the overlaying lines are patterns from brain scans.

In a different but equally unique display, Devorah Sperber’s “Spock 3” installation contains 1,200 spools of thread. Close up the spools appear abstract, but when viewed through a acrylic sphere placed in front of the piece, they depict a strikingly accurate portrait of Spock.

In her statement on the piece, Sperber says that she is fascinated by the biology of vision and visual perception. According to gallery visitor Anelyse Morris, “Spock 3” encourages deeper thought about visual perception, exactly.

“It really challenges your perception. You have to look a few times to get the full understanding.” Morris said of the piece. “The abstraction is interesting, it’s what makes art great.”

The exhibition will be open from September 27th to December 8th, free to both university students and the public. Western's B Gallery is located in the Fine Arts building on the university campus. ∆

This preview was written for the opening of the Coded Threads exhibit at the B Gallery at Western Washington University.

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