15 July 2009

Math, Global Warming, & Women's Crafts

Margaret Wertheim talks about knitting coral reefs over at TED.

I was struck by her presentation on several levels.
Firstly, the interest in math and hyberbolic space. I stumbled upon fractals and Mandelbrot's classic work The Fractal Geometry of Nature about 15 years ago in graduate school. I wasn't taking a class in it. I don't even recall clearly how I came upon it. But it opened my eyes. I believe I may need to go spend some time exploring hyperbolic space.

Secondly, the group art project. The variety of forms and the coming together of many people on one project reminds me very much of Atlanta Knitting Guild's recent flower project.

Thirdly, the participation by women in a craft that is seen as "women's work." The feminist in me is pleased to see this work being accepted as art and being taken so seriously.

Finally, I am encouraged by the political nature of the work. Some art is meant to transform by being beautiful. This transforms thought by raising awareness. A crocheted coral reef that can be easily transported and visited can "speak" for an imperiled reef in the far off seas that is rarely visited by humans.

As this is supposedly a knitting blog, I'll leave you to ponder a knitted item. I've only knitted one hyperbolic shape -- the ruffle on this bag. This Tilli Tomas black silk bag with blue outer was a shop sample made by someone else at Purly Gates. When the shop went out of business, this was one of the items still for sale on the last day. I bought it and a ball of Plymouth Odyssey Glitz, color 796, for a very reasonable price -- well below the cost of one skein of the Tilli Tomas yarn, if I recall correctly. The plain bag really needed something, and the ruffle was just the thing to liven it up and make it a successful project.

And a completely tangential post script -- I love the clover in the background of the photo. It is beginning to take over my front yard and as I like the texture and suspect it won't have to be mowed, I'm not sure I'm at all inclined to stop it.

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