6 computational knitting blankets (wool), 70 × 160 cm
Collaboration with Vera Drebusch.
The handling of information flows shapes our everyday lives in an ambivalent way. Disinformation and conspiracy myths – catalyzed by social media – entangle families and circles of friends in sometimes controversial discussions. In their collaborative exhibition “Interwoven,” Vera Drebusch and Florian Egermann reflect on this dynamic and translate Twitter data via “computational knitting” into knitted works that seem everyday and at the same time auratic.— Heike Ander
The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect storm for conspiracy myths/theories: a global phenomenon that affects the whole world with a trivial root cause. Because of proportionality bias and accelerated by social media, we witnessed disinformation and conspiracy myths permeate our own social circles: Disinformation “comes home”.
Engaging with family and friends that hold these beliefs is difficult. It is challenging to have a discussion with people heavily invested in these theories.
“interwoven” addresses this not by (dis)proving facts as yet another didactic tool, but by engaging with the emotional landscape of people believing in disinformation.
A series of 8 wool blankets produced by computer-based knitting shows the flowing tides of the “information wars” since the first peak of the pandemic. The blankets’ patterns are created by transforming the Twitter data into forces that pull the blanket into different directions. Each blanket shows the amount of Tweets classified as (mis)-information from another month of the pandemic, starting March 2020.
We are deliberately choosing to produce objects, not software. In these “trivial” objects information and misinformation become interwoven, inseparable. The blankets will be presented as an installation in the exhibition space.
We believe that we can only start a discussion if we do not engage in a war on truth. The material, production, authors and dynamics of information should be critically reflected. We want to start a dialogue about the role the news about COVID-19 plays in our lives — we are all sitting at home, “wrapping ourselves” in information.
Are we wrapped in misinformation?
We aim for “interwoven” to be abstract and tactile at the same time. Data visualisation in the arts has a long history but can come off as “cold” and sterile. By using a soft, “domestic” material representing sources of information as threads, we aim to make it more approachable. By combining this haptic level with something intangible, abstract, ephemeral we strive to capture and preserve the constantly changing information flow. The patterns refer to a source that initially remains hidden, but can be deciphered with the help of an index.
We want to inspire people to think about the role that mis/dis/information plays in their everyday lives and inspire a debate. We spend a lot of time and energy on addressing and fighting misinformation and its spreaders. This is important work, yet we feel that our role as artists is not to educate, but to empathise and reveal (emotional) patterns. Unfortunately, Data/Facts will fail to convince people who have a fixed world view. So for our artwork, data will act as an abstract representation of conflicting positions thus inviting discussion around the information flow and reflection about its impact on each of us.
Project in cooperation with Electronic + Textile Institute Berlin. Machine Knitting & Textile Place.