The Medusa Banners

An ongoing series of textile banners: hand, free-hand machine, and digital embroidery on digitally printed linen, 2020-, approx. 240 x 135 cm each

The series comes out of a long term interest in the visual language of the digital, internet vernacular, and thinking about how to envisage not only digitalisation but also organic and non-human networks in a more embodied, visceral, and Earth-bound manner. The Medusa Banners represent a conversation between imagery derived from an iterative process working with a variety of digital and algorithmic tools on the one hand, and a range of traditional needlework and textile techniques on the other. This juxtaposition between digital and analogue production methods speaks to the utterly 21st-century tensions between sensuality and efficiency; embodiment and automation; constant digital connectedness and corporeal dislocation; the technosphere and the biosphere.

Oceans are, in many ways, a neglected symbol and site of digitalisation; from the enormous network of submarine cables that form the backbone of the internet, to the acidification and warming of oceans that is a direct result of the enormous thirst for energy, mining, and global transportation systems that accompany our advancing technologies. Oceans are also the cradle of all organic life on earth; almost all living species today share an evolutionary history with jellyfish. In working with this subject matter, however, The Medusa Banners take an approach that rejects the ever-increasing accelerationism in which most discussions of technology today are steeped. The use of embroidery seeks to connect the discourse around technology with its feminist past, but also to actively decelerate the entire process of critique and consumption. The work is made in this consciously slow manner to facilitate a process of slow looking and slow reflection — an impulse that is diametrically opposed to the Silicon Valley maxim “move fast and break things”.

Works in series
I have more in commons with Medusa than I'd care to admit (2020), 229 x 135 cm
After the year we've had we could all use a little (2020), 230 x 135 cm
Reality won't leave us alone (2020), 260 x 137 cm
They annexed our insides in a late night raid (2021), 135 x 210 cm
During dark days we must dream in double time (2021), 135 x 240 cm
Purity is impossible in a porous world (2021), 132 x 202 cm
Simchowitz Collection, Los Angeles
Studio assistance on selected works by Hannah Refaat