On Textiles and Utopia

That a successful textile manufacturer would help write The Communist Manifesto makes sense.  Both the industrial revolution that Engels profited from and experiments with Marxist ideology that led to communism failed to change social disparities through the effects of “utopian surplus.”

Value as a “projection of ourselves onto things” is tied to knowledge-value, power-value, and aesthetic-value (Gabriel Tarde).  With this hierarchical value system in mind, I like to work with the least desirable textiles: cheap, often synthetic, knitwear bought and used that continued on a downward trajectory to the thrift store where I purchased it, part of the “utopian surplus” of cheap fashion.

From right to left: work-in-progress from “Monuments to the Failed Future” and suited-up Tron Conventioneer.

In the new piece (the “kitty quilt”), I want to look at the fabrics that are not discarded but re-configured into an aesthetic (or unaesthetic) object with a value system based on creative “folk” labor along with the phenomenon of the popularity of cat videos on the internet.

The cats offer a domesticated, anthropomorphic vision of nature proliferating via a technology that can’t be depicted. Not drugs, not pornography, the virus spreads with even less effort.  I recently read a journalist in The New York Times refer to “the utopian promise of the internet.”  Where does that “utopian promise” lead seven billion people with more cell phones than access to indoor plumbing?

I like the Tron movies’ depiction of the internet as some kind of dark, gridded environment that never can escape the third dimension, and that brings me back to quilts…



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