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Once There Was A Weaver is a textile storyteller and space divider for Catch’s headquarter, Krydsfeltet created by Benedicte Randløv. It consist of three woven pieces reaching from the ceiling to the floor. The modules are mounted to a rail, making it possible to move them according to specific needs of blinding. The space divider is handwoven in Rubco, a polyesterfibre, and wool.
The textile pattern on the modules is inspired from the IBM’s punched cards, a binary system used to programme and store data on some of the earliest modern computers in the 60’s. More precisely, the textile pattern is resembling the same pattern of squares emerging as you punch the sentence “Once There Was A Weaver” into the card. On image 1 and 2 you can see what the the punched card looked like, followed by a schematic on how to encode various characters into it. Image 3 is showing how to punch the card to write “Once There Was A Weaver”, and finally Image 4 is presenting the final sketch for the textile design – each module displaying the holes in a slightly different way for the artistic purpose of creating harmony and awaking curiosity; inviting the observer to search for the pattern themselves.
The title of the work, refers to the weaver Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752 – 1834), who invented the very first punched card system, which not alone automized the weaves of that time and made the textile production more efficient, but also became crucial for the following development of the computer as we know it today. In the late 18th century, english engineer Charles Babbage took inspiration from Jacquard’s punch card system and developed The Analytic Engine, which is generally noted as the very first computer. Even today, our computers’ are operating based on a binary system of 0’s and 1’s – just like the weave.
Today, the computer has been weaved into almost every aspect of our lives, making it, in my opinion, more important than ever before to actually understand what this invention is and what it is capable of. Whereas many might tend to think of the computer as too complicated to understand, I believe that the story of how it all developed from a relatively simple weave, might make the computer less “scary” and less like a black box, who only very few can control. Hopefully, it will inspire more to explore and unravel the complex computer system and take part in the further development and definition of it.
By referencing the story of the weave and the computer, the textile space divider take on a long tradition of storing history in textile – as we know it from famous tapestries such as for example The Bayeux Tapestry.
Besides serving the informative purpose of communicating this snippet of history, the space divider is also designed to serve a functional purpose in Krydsfeltet, a multi-purpose space often used by many different people working on different projects, which sometimes requires blinding to optimize the work conditions.
The space divider only exists as a prototype, which was on display at Catch in 2020.