Interweaving Poetic Code
October 14 – December 12, 2021
Art Sonje Center 2F
Interweaving Poetic Code
Warp and weft, knit and purl, zero and one: the history of textile and code are closely related. Interweaving Poetic Code, held at Art Sonje Center from October 14th to December 12th, builds on an initial exhibition of the same name held at CHAT (Center for Heritage, Arts and Textile) in Hong Kong earlier this year, from May through August. Where the original exhibition focused on the interrelationship between textile, code, and poetry, the Seoul exhibition expands its scope to include further considerations of technology, community, and the environment, using works by Taeyoon Choi, collaborations with other artists, and material from various community-driven projects to create a space that centers the concept and practice of care.
What is the relationship between poetry, code, and textile? The words “text” and “textile” share a common lineage, stemming from the Latin texere, meaning “to weave.” The word “poetry,” too, comes from the Greek word poiesis, which means “to create or give form.” In each case, small standalone units are woven together and transformed into a pattern, reborn into something altogether new. Indeed, it was by decoding binary codes from a simple punched card — the exact same binary structure of basic computer programming — that the Jacquard Loom, invented in 1804, automated the production of complex textile patterns, making mass production possible for the first time.
Today, it is difficult to extract coding from the context of capitalism — not just because it serves as the technological basis of industrial automation, but because in a tech industry so long dominated by white, male, able-bodied professionals, even a tool for bringing the imagination to life cannot avoid marginalizing the “other.” As such, Interweaving Poetic Code seeks to use the colorful shared history of textile and code — a history of craft and automation, formula and experimentation, technique and expression — to shift our understanding of technology itself, moving away from its conception as a necessarily capitalistic force of violence and exclusion with control as its ultimate goal.
A joint effort between numerous collaborators, Interweaving Poetic Code is both ecosystem and output. For the last ten years, in New York, Seoul, Hong Kong, and beyond, producers, assistants, educators, students, activists, and other community members have been in continuous, if non-linear, collaboration with one another, their work manifesting as research cooperatives, conferences, workshops, fashion shows, an experimental art school, and more. Here, the meaning of collaboration transforms according to circumstance and objective, creating a true interdependence that breaks down some of the longstanding boundaries formed by the increasing professionalization of the arts and academia.
In the exhibition, Taeyoon Choi’s Handmade Computer series uses the fundamentals of electronic circuits and binary systems to shift our conception of the computer from a mass produced industrial product to a tool for proactive, creative, individual expression. FUTURE PROOF, made in collaboration with Berlin-based sound artist Christine Sun Kim, presents future technologies and ethical guidelines desired by the Deaf community. An ongoing international collaboration that explores the idea of a local P2P (Peer to Peer) Web, Distributed Web of Care conceptualizes the internet as a garden of imaginary lichen-like lifeforms, approaching the relationships between people, living things, and non-living things from that perspective. Meanwhile, paintings, drawings, and writings by Choi interwoven throughout serve as a kind of connective tissue of care.
Taeyoon Choi seeks to unlearn, to consciously identify and dismantle unconscious assumptions and behaviors in order to build anew. In this exhibition, he refracts the interplay between coding, textiles, and poetry through the lens of care, bringing everything into the sphere of social practice. “Care,” here, stands in contrast to “cure,” as modeled by the medical industrial complex. It is an ecosystem of mutual support created through communication, contemplation, understanding, engagement, action, and accountability, one that has primarily been shaped by disabled, queer, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), low-income, and undocumented communities who cannot rely on the state for support. These are the people Interweaving Poetic Code seeks to center in its consideration of care over cure, and how technology might help us all take better care of one another. These discussions, in turn, lead to questions like: How might technologies designed to control and regulate be transformed into positive technologies of care? How can we critically pursue the technologies needed to preserve the earth for future generations without building on further exploitation? And in this time of rapid change, how might we harness the essential role of coding in contemporary life to best weave together past, present, and future? Interweaving Poetic Code invites visitors into a poetic experience of these and other questions, an opportunity to think and feel through a simultaneity of code and textile and care.
Interweaving Poetic Code features artistic collaboration by Taeyoon Choi and Allison Parrish, Cezar Mocan, Christine Sun Kim, Companion–Platform, Cori Kresge, Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired, Everest Pipkin, Filip Wolak, Jerron Herman, Jessica Lynne, Ji Hye Chung, Jonathan Dahan, Mark Allen, Minhwi Lee, Nick Montfort, Sub9, Ye Seom Ahn, Yehwan Song and more.
Interweaving Poetic Code in Seoul is made by Takahashi Mizuki, Haeju Kim, Jaemin Shin, Yena Yoo, Yujin Jeong, Maya West, Bohyun Jung, Ikkyun Shin, Small Studio Semi, Soyoung Lee and more.