Photographic Knitting Club (ongoing)

Before the pandemic, my research on the practice of reciprocity often took place through in-person collaborative workshops or classes on accessible 3D scanning techniques or affordable immersive media. As we draw upon virtual networks to mitigate the effect of increasingly restricted borders, many people reached out to me for ways to create digital objects to capture a snippet of this social and technological change, or to rebuild virtual sites for mourning and reflection. I thought about how my research and participatory processes could help preserve this paradigm shift.

The project “Photographic Knitting Club” is a response to this emerging reality. Photogrammetry, a 3D reconstruction technique that creates models by stitching 2D images together, serves as a bridge between photography and sculpture, producing worlds that exist half-way between the digital and the physical. This project operates in two distinct ways: first, as a digital, animated tutorial on do-it-at-home photogrammetry, using personal cell-phones and low to no cost software. Second, in breaking down photogrammetry to small steps, we will look at the pattern and mechanics of photogrammetry that mimics strange social structures emerging from how the pandemic interacts with technology and forms new social relationships. The process of stitching multiple perspectives resembles the function of an artist––a knot maker and connector of ideas who produces new knowledge.
Thinking anthropologically and pedagogically, this project takes advantage of photogrammetry’s aggregated perspective and relative accessibility to question notions of authorship, while playing with its demands for precision to create new metaphors for technological progress. The output will be distributed as an e-zine hosted on a web browser, with supporting text and embedded 3D models, as well as documentations from participatory experiences I conducted before and during the pandemic.

The name “Photographic Knitting Club” connotes pleasure in the company of others, communal support, and making something by hand from start to finish. Knitting circles are also a predominantly feminine social space where non-commercial production takes place. In this way, the “Photographic Knitting Club” rejects the impersonal use and proprietary technology that’s often exploitive. Knitting itself as a metaphor might also be extended to the necessity of how these activities rearrange new borders and boundaries of gender, class, and identity, nationality. Through a feminist perspective, this tutorial offers a tactile / material / philosophical reflection of the mechanics of 3D scanning. We will trace the movement of the eyes and body over time, map our interconnectivity in this shared fragile time and space, and look beyond the representational smoothness of 3D models.

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photo credit: NYPL
photo credit: NYPL