“Making (Queer) Love: A Kit of Odds and Ends”

My abstract submission for hyperrhiz: new media cultures. Call for papers on “kits, plans, schematics” here.

“Making (Queer) Love: A Kit of Odds and Ends”

This ongoing project explores the queer feminist potentials of supplementing commercial design kits with objects and materials that are found, thrifted, or otherwise salvaged. In doing so, it mines the tensions between the useful and the decorative, technological sleekness and crafty kitsch, analog and digital. It also puts pressure on the boundary between cultural production and knowledge production, enacting a critical-creative praxis that values artistic practices as forms of theoretical work while simultaneously attending to the materialities and affective dimensions of scholarly labor. Using the LilyPad Design Kit for prototyping e-textiles with the LilyTiny (a microcontroller designed by Leah Buechley with four basic LED functions) and secondhand materials such as embroidery hoops, needlepoint pattern kits, yarn, and discarded objects, this series of textured fabric images is a media ecology that offers partial stories of queer love in feminist worlds. Here the slow work of crafting functions as a new materialist method of noticing and caring, while the aesthetics of documentation intimately attend to acts of queer making. The accompanying essay explains all stages of the process, contextualizing the project in terms of feminist histories of craft and technology as well as recent scholarship on maker movements and DIY cultures.

Some sample documentation:

20141128_180720

First I sketched the front of my design and laid out my LEDs (two red, one pink) on my smallest embroidery hoop.

20141128_180645

On the back of the design I sketched the circuit and marked where I wanted the battery and the LilyTiny. I sewed the circuit into a strip of felt so the conductive thread wouldn’t be visible on the front of the design (the conductive thread also marks up the Aida cloth with gray residue).

20141128_173021 20141128_154417

The felt flips up so I could easily sew the LEDs onto the front of the Aida cloth. Zero is helping.

20141128_190622 20141128_201028 20141128_220420 20141128_220443

I needed two batteries to run the pink LED. I’ll have to experiment with layering embroidery floss over LEDs to work on distributing the light.

This is Part II in a diptych called “The Beginning” (Part I coming soon).

20141201_221659

The back might be a little messy, but so are most hearts.

20141201_225729

Two of the “kits” I’m working with: a LilyPad Design Kit and a bunch of thrift store embroidery supplies.

20141201_225828

There are some great needlepoint instructions and even some handwritten patterns; I’ll have to do more research into provenance.

20141201_225844

More soon!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s