Warp, Weft, and Web
2014. Digital animation on HD video, 6'15", sound, tv, tripod.
A stereoscopic video produced with SIRDS software. An animated 3-D relief of a Newell teapot appears embedded in the modified William Morris and Co. wallpaper patterns. This stereoscopic effect is possible when viewed cross-eyed at a certain distance to the screen, determined by the height of the tripod.
A synthetic voice-over narrates the discovery of the stereoscopy in the repeating pattern of a wallpaper and the story of MIKE COOLEY & LUCAS AEROSPACE WORKERS. In parallel to the late socialist thought of WILLIAM MORRIS, LUCAS AEROSPACE WORKERS voiced a concern that the introduction of CAD software in the 1980s workplace would bring about a second wave of deskilling, akin to the effects the introduction of industrial machinery had on artisan labor in the industrial revolution. Both WILLIAM MORRIS and LUCAS AEROSPACE WORKERS help dismount the romanticism of post-industrial techno-utopias that evoke a return to artisanal, small-scale production, while barely hiding the generalized precarity of creative work.
CHARACTERS, cited, in order of appearance:
SIR DAVID BREWSTER (1781-1868), scientist and contemporary to William Morris, who first identified stereoscopy, that is, the optical illusion of a third dimension in a two-dimensional surface. Brewster is said to have first noticed this effect in wallpaper patterns, common wall decoration in the Victorian household.
WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896) the Pre-Raphalite poet and painter, in his early life a socialist writer and thinker, and later in his life an Arts and Crafts manufacturer. He claimed that the best of his Socialist thinking occurred at the loom. In effect, both his critique of mechanization and the selective adoption of automation at Morris & Co were based on the idea of satisfactory labor and degrowth, determined by "useful production" and "non-alienated work." The diversity of his work within the two movements commonly reduces Morris to a nostalgic Medieval escapist. This video assumes many guildless Morrises have resurfaced in de-industrialized city centers.
LUCAS AEROSPACE WORKERS & MIKE COOLEY (1934-) engineer and trade-union leader, author of the 1980 critique of computerization, The Architect and the Bee. As an active organizer of the Lucas Aerospace Plan with his fellow aeronautical workers, Cooley sought to reform the arms manufacturer to produce socially-useful objects on the eve of their redundancy. He identified in computerization a second wave of deskilling, akin to how mechanization in the Industrial Revolution had actively de-qualified artisans into low-paid wage laborers, this time effecting the intellectual class. His attention to ergonomy is notable: both in his advocacy of how workplace machines should enhance workers' movements, and in his approach to computerization in relation to thought-processes of the designated intellectual class with which he identified.
NEWELL TEAPOT (1975) is a computer model characterized by mathematical rendering of its curved surface, developed by Martin Newell at the University of Utah. The teapot has become a standard reference object in computer graphics.
SOUNDTRACK: CHORUS OF MECHANICAL BIRDS from the Baroque tradition of animating mechanical birds for courtly amusement, precursors to watch-making and automatons.