Issues: Computing, Gender, History, Textiles, Weaving, and Women's Labor
Webmachine is the concept of an alternative new media machine, a piece that translates a binary text to visual code using the technology of punch card weaving. Imaginary archaeology of the computer invented by female cultural tradition to replace ‘male machines’ that merges the logic of punch cards, weaving patterns and computing. To create the artwork, I coded a table loom as a starting point and modified its production method. Webmachine is concerned with the history of industrialized female labor, early computers and weaving. My main research questions revolved around the undercurrents of computer history, and the possibility to manifest them in the form of an interactive installation, namely, a reversed analog weaving computer. My doctoral dissertation, currently being prepared for publishing in English and Hungarian, briefly highlights the problem of gender stereotyping in the history of computing and hacker cultures, in a chapter titled ‘the boys and their toys’. Sadie Plant describes the continuity of low-wage repetitive labor to be assigned to women from weaving to computing. Weaving is nature coded by culture into a visual interface, where the methodology of coding is inherently cultural, not natural. The case is the same with computers, and culture reinforces stereotypes by the method of coding. My work aims to decode and recode cultural stereotyping by disassembling the machine interfaces that reinforce these codes, to speculate on possible parallel machine archaeology.
Juli Laczko is an intermedia artist engaged with critical research in visual arts and digital culture. She holds a practice-based doctoral degree from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts for her research on “Strategic Interactions between Hacker Culture and Contemporary Visual Arts”. Her artworks have appeared internationally from Leipzig, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, Bratislava to Istanbul and Nevada in group- and solo exhibitions. As an artist, she is most concerned with issues of social inclusion/exclusion, public and private, anti-authoritarian provocation, and feminist perspectives. Her artistic research is informed by the intersection of visual arts and hacker culture and focuses on articulating ‘intermediality’ in space. She pursues an experimental practice to render visible the mold of the material and the digital into particular temporalities. This artistic research is the result of the leverage of a decade of visual performance and material practices integrated by a critical pursuit. Laczko’s doctoral dissertation is currently being prepared for publishing in English and Hungarian. It briefly highlights the problem of gender stereotyping in the history of computing and hacker cultures. Her project aims to decode and recode cultural stereotyping by disassembling the machine interfaces that reinforce these codes, in order to speculate on possible parallel machine archaeologies.