I can’t believe it – a record 777 spam comments on my blog this week!! So if you sent me a genuine message, and it hasn’t appeared as a comment, please forgive my heavy-handed delete!
Certain number combinations attract our attention – which is one reason I noted the 777 spams. Other combinations have things to do with our cultural references – for instance, 8 in China is an auspicious number, whereas 3, 7 and 9 tend to be favoured numbers in the UK. 13 is considered unlucky, although I really don’t know why because it’s also known as the ‘baker’s dozen’, dating from times past when a baker would add an extra roll to a dozen just in case the total weight of the twelve rolls came up underweight after baking.
I was watching a film this weekend based on numbers, partly because I enjoy numbers (although I’m not good at maths), partly because I love codes (like many children, I used to make up my own codes as a child and weaving allows for code-making through techniques such as alphabet drafts), and also because I love looking for patterns, whether in nature, in puzzles, or in numbers. My son seems to have inherited this ability to see patterns in apparently random collections, as he is excelling at signals and codes during his latest phase of training. He’s also inherited his dad’s trait of memorising apparently useless nuggets of information that suddenly come into their own when you least expect it!
Back to the film. It was called ‘Knowing’ and featured Nicholas Cage as a single parent of a young lad called Caleb who has problems deciphering words and wears a hearing aid to assist him to sort out the jumble of words. The father is an astro-phyisict teaching at MIT. The film starts off with a time capsule being buried at a newly opened school in the 1950s, and one piece of ‘art’work being included that was a whole string of numbers. The girl who wrote this down kept hearing people whispering to her. Roll on 50 years, and the capsule is being lifted up and the contents handed out. Caleb gets the paper with the strings of numbers and his father starts looking at it. Being someone who is interested in numbers, he suddenly realises that the strings of numbers include dates, so he starts researching. To his horror, he finds that the dates all refer to horrific accidents and natural phenomena with large loss of life, and then he notices that the next few numbers relate to the number of people killed. Following the numbers through to their conclusion, he realises that there are dates that haven’t happened yet, and to his horror he witnesses one of the events on the list. …
When I first started perusing popular physics books by authors such as John Gribbin, I began to realise just how big a part numbers play in our understanding of how the world, our galaxy, and ultimately the universe (at least the one that we know of) works. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. I find it great fun to be working in a field that requires me to manipulate numbers, albeit in a very different way, to create the tactile effects I want. It doesn’t matter to me that I might have 4, 8, 16 or 24 shafts to use. What matters is how those different shafts and the threads that are manipulated by those shafts can interact to create patterns in colour, line and surface relief. The challenge is to create fabrics and textures that seem to defy the limitations of the shafts through using different combinations and thinking in ways that push how you normally would think of using them.
In one way, you could think of weaving as a game of number manipulation. It would be interesting to hear how you think of weaving and what aspects of weave get you inspired. Let me know?