Thursday, February 11, 2010

participant view, by Nikki

My participation in #plateaknit has made me think specifically about a few key things, but not limited to; nostalgia, stratification, interpretation and networking/collaboration.

Nostalgia: I come from a large family of knitters however don’t knit myself. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid; but as the only left-handed person in a whole family of right-handed people; as you can imagine the attempted teaching/learning became a source of frustration for all concerned. We used to all congregate at my Grandparents house on the weekends and there didn’t seem to be a weekend in my formative years that brightly coloured yarns - with symbolic tin cans - didn’t connect us all in some form. It seemed to me that the ability to make something from wool was akin to a rite of passage in our family and I would experiment with other ways of forming yarn into objects so as not to miss out on the experience altogether. I still think of knitting as quite mystical yet at the same time social and have fond memories of garments and toys that were created during that time.

I also feel that the resurgent interest in handcrafted items (I include knitting in this broad category) is partially driven by nostalgia. Many environmental (and also in some part economic) concerns have driven me personally to seek alternatives to mass-produced items, preferring to opt for something a little more unique, or thoughtful, when considering gift options.

Stratification: I’m interested in archaeological matrices and their formation through palimpsests of data, which bears an interesting correlation (I feel) to a crowd sourced knitting pattern. As assemblages of cultural and environmental information stratify in an archaeological record you could perhaps view this as mega-tweets of social instruction/trends overlapping each other as displayed in some of the pics of #plateaknit pieces on the @Platea Flickr pool. I hadn't really considered the application of archaeological process to an artistic endeavor before, but its certainly something I'll give a bit more thought to on the back of this project.

Interpretation: I was fascinated to watch how the reader interpreted the data presented to them and translated it to fit within their working model, particularly when both literal and metaphorical instructions were provided. All the makers involved in this project produced very distinct pieces from basically the same instructions. But then, I do still have a childlike awe for knitting viewing it as alchemy!

Networking and collaboration: With so many social networking sites opening up greater avenues for exploring many crafts/arts/hobbies it only takes minutes to find a community of people from all over the world happy to share their knowledge with the uninitiated or those rediscovering a forgotten passion. With this too comes an increase in collaborative ventures that, I feel, strengthens not only our relationships with each other but gives us a greater visualisation for what we can achieve as individuals. For example, through the work of the collaborators on this project – and in deed a great many friends whom I see (in person) regularly - I’ve been inspired to have another shot at knitting!

(apologies for the lack of pictures with this text)

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