CC Midterm Documentation: Athena

Weaving has a long and complex relationship to storytelling, text, and computing. Text and textile share an etymology — the Latin texo, texere, to weave. The Jacquard loom is the antecedent to modern computing. ATHENA is a project that explores the relationship between text and textile, as well as the changes and continuities of storytelling over time.

ATHENA consists of a small hand loom connected to a Processing sketch via serial communication. Each time the user passes the weft thread over or under each conductive warp thread, Processing generates and displays text based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, one word per pass.

The Metamorphoses is the text that discusses Arachne, the legendary weaver who was turned into a spider. By procedurally generating this text in real time through the physical act of weaving, the project comments on the craft’s origins, its storied history, and the ways that stories and threads continue to intertwine in shifting ways. It is also a reminder of this history’s interconnectedness — weaving is a craft that belongs to the spiders as much as to the cyborgs.