Visual Strata-Sphere uses hand woven cloth as a conduit to explore the physicality and representations of place, identity, networks and systems. Artist Maggie Leininger delves into the historical and personal interpretations of physical places represented by 20 hand woven quick response codes. Cloth has long been the repository of social and cultural identity, but in a day and age where fewer people are involved in the design and production process of textiles, how does cloth today reflect our contemporary identity? Furthermore, as populations are increasingly mobile, how does this cloth identity change and mutate as it travels from one region to another? The quick response code functions as the mobile device that contains ephemeral information imbedded into the cloth. In this way, some of the codes can be altered and fitted to suit the needs of specific populations and regions as the work travels for exhibition. Visual Strata-sphere invites viewers to engage with the artist’s locational explorations and interpretations by scanning each fabric with a QR reader leading them through an inter-connected maze of sites, sounds, and participatory actions.
Textiles have often contained cultural identifiers that change from one physical location to another therefore making cloth a very site specific object. The American coverlet is a prime ethnographic example. The coverlet patterns found in Appalachia are derivative, some exclusively, from patterns of Northern European settlers (specifically England, Germany and Scandinavia) of the 1700’s.
The codes woven for this project are similar to the drafts, or patterns, used to weave these iconic hand-woven American treasures. By using a loom to create these QR codes, the project further acknowledges the historical influence of how the binary system of weaving developed into the computerized systems that are imbedded into contemporary modernized culture. The woven “text” functions as a symbol for information in our increasingly visual language of pixelated abstractions of ones and zeros. Thus, the work bridges the dichotomies of ephemeral and the permanent; the historical and contemporary; individual and collective in a unique capacity within our digital era.