Textiles & Tech History

“Textiles and Technology: Needlework in Networked Spaces as Feminist Praxis.” Feminist Digital Humanities. Eds. Susan Schreibman and Lisa Rhody. University of Illinois Press. (forthcoming)

This article aims to take textile arts, its histories, contexts, and methods and bring them into data-centric media through examining shared histories and investigating parallel current practices and uses that are occurring within (largely) femme and feminized spaces, many of which often do not receive the same attention or credit as data-centric fields. I build on recent critical feminist engagements with digital technologies, algorithms, and systems to interrogate similarities in architecture and design, production processes and labor, historical developments, and materialities between data storage technologies and textile arts. As such, I argue that data practices and textile arts are not just similar but rather deeply entwined through their shared histories and gendered performances. From these intersections and sociohistorical narratives, I develop the concept of data materialism, which is the notion of data as a living practice that extends beyond numerical representations and institutionalized standards. I argue that data materialism is exemplified in modern projects that combine data and textiles and that these engagements can help to rethink data-driven media and data storage in foundationally feminist ways.