Pattern : Code

Ahree Lee

Medium: Installation and Video
Issues: Computing, Gender, History, Textiles, Weaving, and Women's Labor

Project Links


Pattern : Code reactivates the innate connections between weaving and computing, and examines the interrelationships between technology, craft, and women’s labor. In order to create a comparison of modes of technological production by women in factories and offices, archival footage is edited together from industrial weaving and computer operations overlaid with weaving and punch card patterns. Computing and weaving are inextricably connected. The word “technology” comes from the Greek “techne,” meaning “art” or “craft.” The first computers derived from the same technology that runs Jacquard-weaving looms. Weaving is binary, either a warp or a weft thread is on the surface, essentially a zero or one. However, weaving and computing differ in their gender associations and the value of labor. Women were instrumental in the development of computing, writing the first computer programs and filling the ranks of programming jobs in the early years. Currently, the technology industry is dominated by men earning significantly more than their female co-workers do. Textile production drove technological advances from prehistory through the industrial revolution. Yet, the history of textile production is also a history of how women and those without power were exploited for economic gain. Conceptually both computing and weaving are based on patterns. The discrepancy between the relative values of computing and weaving labor are also the result of a history of thought, behavioral, and societal patterns over time.


Ahree Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. She is a multi-media artist working in video, photography, sound and interactive installations. She received her B.A. in English literature from Yale University and a M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale School of Art, where she studied under Sheila de Bretteville. Lee’s many commissions include the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the 01SJ Biennial, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, the 2006 International Short Film Festival in Leuven, Belgium, the International Festival of Video Art of Casablanca and the Sundance Channel. Her Webby-nominated video ‘Me’ was shown by Steve Jobs as a demo for YouTube on Apple TV and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of the Moving Image, New York. ‘Me’ currently has over 9 million views. Lee lives and works in Los Angeles with her daughter and husband, Nathan Melsted, an electronic musician, who composes musical scores for much of Lee’s work.