In ‘Oddity’, Gemma Blackwell uses unconventional materials (notably mesh and sponge) to digitally embroider on. While I don’t believe her shapes actually symbolise any particular form of data, they look like something that could be produced using a coded data set. Finding artist models for this class has opened my eyes to the freedom of creativity possible within the embroidery practice – previously, I thought it was very restricted.
I really enjoyed the final class exhibition today, I like seeing how everyone branches out in such different directions. There was a lot of interesting various data sets but the projects that I enjoyed the most were definitely those in which you could clearly see how the physical product represented the original information.
Here is a couple of examples of where else in the world I can envision my work.
Tim gave me the idea of incorporating it into the police uniform, which I thought was very insightful. I knew that a lot of the police uniforms in the US had patches which I think this embroidery would work well as. It’s a good representation of the way that the police need to take responsibility for their actions.
I was hoping to embroider a much larger piece to hang in exhibition, but the size was too much for the embroidery machine to handle. I’d like to explore alternative ways to do this with my free time in the future, though. I used these lamp post flags as a mock-up because I feel like this is information that needs to be widely shared and constantly in our faces.
Please feel free to touch and pick it up but probably don’t try it on because that’s not very COVID friendly! + Ignore my terrible hand stitching pleease...
My code uses data collected from police reports in the United States. Each cross on the canvas represents one day of this year so far. The heaviness of the stroke weight represents the amount of people that have been reported killed on that day by the United States police.
I turned my final embroidery project into a face mask. To me, the mask represents the way that the world has changed this year. I hope that, as awareness is raised by the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, these statistics will change as well. The idea of the mask came to me as I was looking at photos from BLM protests in different places around the world. People of different cultures looked so different from one another but were united by the mask; by their determination to put aside other worries to stand up for what is right.
My original plan was to go with a black-on-black colour scheme, but I ended up changing to red and green because there wasn’t any black thread in the fab lab. The green is speckled throughout as a sort of representation of how few days there were this year that were free of police murders. The green patch in the corner was a screw-up by the machine but I liked the way it turned out. I think it makes it kind of look like the American flag in a way, which I can pretend is purposeful and symbolic.
Here are a video and some photos of the embroidery process. I tried to take a time lapse of the whole thing but the machine was shaking the whole table. It was so cool seeing the machine in action, and the way it interpreted the code. I thought it would have started from the top left and worked its way down to the bottom right but it started on the right, in the middle. The pattern it made seemed random but I imagine it was based a lot on the position of the empty squares, so that the machine could theoretically work in a singular line. I think it would have just been one line all the way through if I hadn’t had to stop a few times to rethread it. I thought about trimming the stray threads but I liked the way that the crosses were connected with one another because it symbolically emphasises the need for unity against police violence.
Here’s what my final code output looked like before I added PEmbroider functions.
And here is the code as modified for PEmbroider.
I imported the necessary PEmbroider code lines into the top of the code (lines 1 & 2 and the line under the size). This ensures that my code will connect with PEmbroider.
Harry and I weren’t completely sure how big the pixel to stitch ratio on the embroidery machine is, so there was a bit of guessing involved and using values that would be easy to change if necessary. I added the int crossSize to make it easier to change the size of the crosses when needed.
I kept the PEmbroider_shapes.vp3 file as the output as a placeholder instead of doing a .dst file straight away.
Everything between E.beginDraw and E.endDraw is what will be drawn in PEmbroider.
The parameters of E.setStitch are (a, b, c).
a = stitch size; 10px is approximately 1mm.
b = ideal measurement
c = level of randomness (sort of like noise in photoshop) on a scale from 0-100.
I chose a perpendicular stroke mode because the shape of the crosses is important to me to maintain, and this stroke was the one that best represented this.
A lot of the code is the same as before but the shape elements need to have E. in front of them in order to be recognised by PEmbroider.
E.visualize allowed me to have a preview of what the embroidery would look like before I put it into the machine. Due to the difference in size of pixels and stitches, the preview looked huge on the computer. But I was able to get the right idea.
E.optimize is commented out but I will uncomment it when I export this as a .dst. E.optimize takes longer to render but ensures the highest quality of embroidery file.
E.beinCull and E.endCull in the last lines of code mean that overlapping stitches (which were previously in all of the crosses of course) will be culled from the design. Because the crosses were all drawn in the same direction, the left bottom - top right line is always on top.
While searching for artist models, I discovered this freehand drawing editor for PEmbroider, developed by programmer Lingdong Huang (documented my Golan Levin, the creator of PEMbroider). I’m amazed by how advanced this technology is, but think it’s kind of funny that it’s just a step closer to being back to traditional embroidery (except, of course, much less time consuming).
Women Unravelled is not digitally embroidered but it is coded through conditional design. Somani’s work unpacks the portrayal of female protagonists in classic novels. She uses different colours and styles of stitching to pinpoint examples of different feminist themes within the works. The stitching is neat on one side and messy on the other, as embroidery generally is, and she uses this to symbolise society’s suppressive standards for women (wowee, bit of alliteration there).
I was looking at this article to try and gain some ideas for the context of my final piece. Looking at the photos from protests all around the world this year, the one thing that stuck out to me as a similarity between a lot of the protestors were their face masks. Of course, this is due to COVID. I like that despite the virus, people came together to protest an important cause.
I think a good context for my embroidery would be if it were sewn onto a face mask.
Today I finalised the code for my project, with everything ready except the formatting for PEmbroider.
I updated my table to add the most recent statistics. Now it contains data for every day this year except for the last couple (which is unavoidable because of time zones and the time it takes for police reports to be processed).
Originally, I used two separate for loops. One was for the strokeWeight and one for the repeated crosses for each day of the year. Later, I combined these because it made more sense for them to be a single for loop because they affected the same elements.
I’m not very good at maths so was unable to figure out how to get the crosses to separate from one another.
Tim showed me how to position the crosses properly, as well as a much easier drawing process. By creating a new void, you can create a shape outside of the generic Processing ones. I created a cross shape using negative and positive parameters so that the shape would stem from its center and be easy to position on the canvas. Because it has been created in its own void, cross now acts as any other shape function would within the setup function. Also, I thought it good to note that the names given to integers are restricted within one void, so int x can be used in the setup void to mean something completely different. I noted this because it confused me when I didn’t know.
When I eventually got the code up and running, I was very annoyed to discover that a strokeWeight of 0 was still visualised in the code.
This required an if statement to create my desired outcome. The strokeWeight is determined by the amount of murders by the US police on a given day (integers taken from the second column of my table). Because of my if statement, if the number of murders is 0, the cross will have no stroke and a gap will be left to represent the very few days of peace.
Following is the code as finished today. PEmbroider elements of the code are commented out because I’m not quite at the stage for that formatting yet.
During the induction, we put a design from PEmbroider into the digital embroidery machine. This design shows some of the different types of hatching (fill) available with PEmbroider.
Harry showed us that it is possible to pause a design while it is being embroidered by the machine and then resume it later, so long as you remember the stitch number that the machine is on. We did this because another student had booked the machine. I came back to see the finished product later!
Today I did an induction to use the embroidery machine in Fab Lab WGTN. I downloaded the PEmbroider library from GitHub and imported it into Processing.
The PEmbroider library in Processing has all the necessary lines of code for making digital embroidery that can be easily copied and pasted. The README on the PEmbroider page on GitHub shows all of the things that can be made using code from PEmbroider and where they can be found in the library.
First, we made this simple rectangle shape. The visualize function must be used in order to ensure that the embroidery design can be viewed on screen, before it is fed into the machine.
The stroke weight and colour can be changed for PEmbroider patterns in the same way as it normally is in Processing. The stroke and fill can be changed to work in different patterns. The different examples of strokes and fills can be found on GitHub and in the PEmbroider Processing Library.
Text elements can also be easily coded into PEmbroider.
I haven’t yet had the chance to complete a Fab Lab induction for the digital embroidery machine, but I decided to prepare for my project as much as I could.
My project will input data from a website that records police murders in the United States: mappingpoliceviolence.org. I downloaded a massive table from their website which contains all kinds of information.
I want my project to focus on the amount of people that are killed every day my police in the United States. This information was included in the table, but in a way that would be very difficult to input into Processing, so I used the data to make a new table that just contains the date and the number of people that were reported killed by United States police on that date. I’m going to include every day of 2020 so far. So far, there have only been 12 days reported this year where police have not killed someone.
I’m not sure yet in what context I will do my embroidery. I would like to include a mark for each day of the year. The positions of the markings on the canvas will represent the point in time. Different colours or stroke thicknesses will represent the amount of people reported killed by police on that day. I think my markings will be represented by some kind of cross stitch. I thought a + could be good – I was thinking about the crosses at Normandy – but I wouldn’t want to force religious perspective on it. So I might do x because it has other relevant symbolism behind it. I don’t know if I’ll do a different symbol for days with no killings, or just leave them blank.
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