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PENELOPE: A Study of Weaving as Technical Mode of Existence

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[Translate to English:] Das Projekt PENELOPE wird gefördert durch einen ERC Consolidator Grant der Europäischen Kommission im Forschungs-Rahmenprogramm Horizon 2020 (Projekt Nr. 682711)

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Project description

The PENELOPE project explores the contribution of ancient weaving to the history of science and technology, particularly digital technology. The project involves both the study of ancient source texts and the practices and technical principles of ancient weaving. We are reconstructing these in our PENELOPE laboratory at the Museum for Plaster Casts of Classical Sculptures, Munich, on replica warp-weighted looms.

Weaves consist of threads that cross over or under each other, making weaving a digital and even binary technology. The PENELOPE project will demonstrate that there is a previously unexplored contribution of weaving to the emergence of science in ancient Greece.

The project takes an interdisciplinary and partly experimental approach. In one of our experiments, the PENELOPE performance, we compare recurring rhythmic cycles in two temporally distant forms: the ancient Greek text genre called epiplokē and Tidal Cycles, a live code for music developed by team member Alex McLean. Despite their distance in time, they meet in the idea of pattern as rhythm, illustrating an early method of algorithmic pattern generation that relates to the principles of weaving (hidden in the word epiplokē). Six pattern-matrix-controlled and tablet-woven PENELOPE robots act as dancers.

The PENELOPE lab at the Museum of Plaster Casts is open to the public and consists of two warp-weighted looms, loom equipment and tools, as well as the pattern matrices, and a live-codable loom. There we invite weavers to participate in joint experiments.


Indian Weaving in the Time of COVID-19

A blogpost by Annapurna Mamidipudi on penelope.hypotheses.org, 23. April 2010


Podcast: Gewebte Zeiten. Der Code der alten Griechen



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