Thursday, September 30, 2010


Michael Radyk included in Binary Fiction: Digital Weaving 2010.
Eisentrager-Howard Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
October 4- October 29, 2010
Reception October 7, 2010 6-9 PM

Curated by Janice Lessman-Moss, " Drawing on various sources of inspiration mediated by digital technology, each artist transforms virtual designs into material form using the matrix of warp and weft."

The Gallery will be the location of a site seminar as part of the 12th Biennial Textile Society of America Symposium on Friday, October 8 from 2:00-4:30.

I will be showing and presenting my piece "Visions of Gerard".

The Weaving of Walls Through the Windows of Influence

My work is exploring the use of reflective, stiff, coated or transparent materials into a woven textile. I want the textiles to distort and limit the qualities of light so seeing and vision can be altered, permitting the expression of looking to be activated by distortion and the interaction of interior and exterior elements. The acts of framing and veiling symbolize a way of looking. The goal is to create sensorial moments similar to those found in the quiet spaces of half-darkened rooms.

Channeling different aspects of sight, light and pattern through a collection of interior textiles is the basis of this research. This exploration is a union between my background in handwoven textiles and my current research into machine-made textiles. The connection between wall, window and veiling is the focus of my material and design investigations.

Looking beyond the merely decorative and aesthetic, I want my work to portray my response to the chaos of contemporary image culture and the ways in which our world view is organized and distorted. The acts of framing and veiling symbolize a way of looking. One example is how the burka limits the wearer’s peripheral vision, not unlike the limitations of our current political climate.

Veiling, windows, reflective and kinetic materials offer a carefully considered way of seeing. The goal is to create sensorial moments similar to those found in the quiet spaces of half-darkened rooms. While the surfaces that result are meant to explore materials that arouse the senses, there is a particular interest in the aspects related to light, vision and interaction. The interactive surface comes to life only when the viewer comes in contact with it, discovering what the cloth may hide, distort or frame.

My approach to producing, designing and weaving my work is a continuation of the manipulation of the woven surface. The surfaces I create are indebted to the methods of weaving I have been practicing in my past work. The introduction of the Jacquard loom has changed the flexibility and surface structures while maintaining the basic principles of weaving that form the language of craft and weaving. The various trials and phases of manipulating the warp and weft have brought the integration of the surface from the embroidered panels of my past work into a more visually integrated single cloth. Cloth is like cement. We experience cloth every day. The life of cloth is determined by both its use and non-use. Today the seeming endless uses of cloth or textiles only seem to make its worth or value both mundane and precious. The 2005 exhibition Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance at the Cooper- Hewitt National Design Museum in New York displayed for the first time many textiles of technical innovation. The exhibition brought to light many technical textiles that were developed from a variety of medical, apparel, agricultural and environmental fields. These innovations have begun to eliminate the borders between the traditional language of textiles, while continuing the textile as a kind of foundation or cement that can be innovated in the context of design, art and craft.

The making of woven cloth is at the core of my artistic practice. My investigation into making cloth stems from those dualities inherent in its value, structure, meaning, production, visual impact, craft and history. What I hope to achieve in my cloth is an abstraction formed around dualities. In the work and textiles I produce there is a consistency of influences. As I weave my body around the halls of museums or my eyes around architectural references and words, the layering of their influences start to overlap and under lap, touch and diverge, like threads in cloth. Using a multilayered or mosaic-like approach to research is how I work. Weaving together a sort of atlas of influence and memory, my aim is to demonstrate the evocative power of images which occur/recur, to expose their impact, their nature, to explain how they function, how they infect one another.

“I want to erase architecture, I have always wanted to do so, and I am not likely to ever change my mind.”

“Why do I want to particlize materials and reduce them to tiny pieces? Why do I want to break down stone, bamboo Japanese paper into lower-like particles? Why do I want to punch countless holes in every material? The answer is that I like tactile qualities. Without particlizing materials we cannot appreciate them as materials, nor feel their vibrancy.”- Kengo Kuma

My research subjects are materiality as it relates to the woven structure and the architect Kengo Kuma, specifically three of his buildings: Ginzan Onsen Fujiya (Hot Spring Hotel), Stone Museum and Plastic House. Kuma writes, referring to the process of concrete construction or the actual method of pouring concrete in building construction: “Everything appears structural, but most of it is superfluous and unnecessary structurally.” This view informs my looking at the woven structure of cloth. In other words, I want my woven textiles to be conceived not in terms of their construction, but rather their existence as objects that have relationship and meaning to the final interior or architectural context.

The Ginzan Onsen Fujiya project reconfigured a 100-year-old hot spring hotel in Japan’s historic snow country. Layering space with screens is a traditional Japanese device; but Kuma choreographs a sequence of entry rooms dividing veil-like walls of remarkable materials. He uses over a million pieces of split bamboo, spruce, a wood-grained Chinese granite and glass with a natural and vertical repetition. Handmade paper applied to the walls has uneven surfaces where water was dripped during its manufacture. Kuma, in the renovation, connects the street with the lobby inside, by creating a sense of transparency, inserting larger windows and a new glass entry. The glass was made using a hand-blown glass technique from France called dale de verre. The glass has a subtly greenish-blue surface that infuses the lobby with an almost aqueous character. By introducing daylight into the interior spaces Kuma brings out the materiality of the interior surfaces of the hotel.

In Kuma’s work transparence alludes to the capacity of seeing through, of proceeding from the outside to the inside, with the goal of recovering a depth of vision that is also psychological and introspective. For Kuma the space of architecture is a “continuous sensory experience.” There is an element of directness is his work that is both subtle and overt. Seeing the Stone Museum built of stone is obvious; however the museum takes the viewer on a journey through the walls, using the stone not as wall, but as window into other spaces of the museum and beyond. Another of Kengo Kuma’s museums with simultaneous phenomenon is the Adobe Museum for Wooden Buddha, built in 2002. The museum holds one work of art, the wooden statue of Amidabha Tathagata, Buddha. The small museum has a reliquary quality, but the museum holds something both very aesthetic and static simultaneously. The Buddha is placed in a box with large glass doors both containing and emitting the prescience and force of the “object.” The Adobe museum, with one object on view, one visual item behind the definition of smooth glass, makes the gaze of the viewer more focused and direct. Luigi Alini writes about Keno Kuma in his essay, The Warp and Weft of Architecture – Weaving, Joining, Overlapping, Folding. “He cuts, splices, superimposes, weaves and folds, replicating ad infinitum a principle of construction that in his works turns into a narrative that unfolds by polarities, by ”archetypal pairs”: light/shadow, simple/complex, opaque/transparent, temporary/permanent, massive/light, surface/depth, single/multiple, warp/weft, continuous/discontinuous, repetition/variation, high/low.” These are associated with one another with the aim of showing that a relationship of necessity holds between the part and the whole. Kengo himself writes “the most interesting experiences of architectural space take place through contact with materials, when their texture, their depth, is revealed.”

“I want to create weak buildings” says Kengo Kuma in his essay Weak Architecture. He goes on to ask the question, “Do sturdy buildings really protect human beings?” Buildings must be strong in order to function as shelters—that is the reasoning for creating them. Kengo began to question that idea after the Awaji Earthquake of 1995. Given the events of 9/11, are we really better off with the presumed monumentality of these so-called sturdy structures? To question the materiality of windows and walls is also to question their use,placement, need and structure. I can imagine walls of woven plastic or walls of other sturdy woven materials becoming a new interface between the durable/delicate balance of the environment and human body.

Jacquard Work

“Only this hand seemed to have a vital and immediate memory of the woman he was going to see. The more he tried to call up a clear picture of her, the more his memory failed him, the farther she faded away, leaving him nothing to catch and hold. In the midst of the uncertainty only the one hand, and in particular the forefinger, even now seemed damp from her touch, seemed to be pulling him back to her from afar. Taken with the strangeness of it, he brought the hand to his face, and then quickly drew a line across the misted window. A women’s eye floated up before him. He almost called out with astonishment. But he was dreaming”…

- From “Snow Country,” by Yasunari Kawabata

“Luz” is my first Jacquard cloth inspired by the shape of the half open meditative eye and the slowing of time. The woven structure is an event where texture and smoothness collide. I wanted to create the mistiness of slow time Chimes creates in his White Paintings. The final fabric has a quietness that is more the result of the sloping shapes and coloring of grey. While struggling with the structure of the cloth and wanting to achieve effects of veiling and dimensional light I felt the elements needed not to be woven into the surface.

The second series of Jacquard cloths, called “Sickle and Sowed,” is the first cloths where the technique of cut floats is employed. The Van Gogh drawings I saw at the Kroller–Muller Museum in the Netherlands informed my own drawings that became the source for the cloths. The first cloth has been clipped and shorn as if the growth of threads is a weedlike substance, unwanted, pulled and haphazard. The second cloth has been cut with more care. The cloth woven with linen, nylon and fine black metallic yarns synthesizes into a strange garden of threads that seem to have been grown from the surface. Both of these trials with cut-floats needed to be refined. The curving shapes of the imprints did not accept the cutting, regularly causing small gaps that can be distracting. Learning that the floats work best in linear patterns, I realized the Jacquard cut float technique could be utilized to create surfaces that within their structure and design could achieve dimensional effects with a dramatic simplicity. The size and scale of the new Jacquard pieces needed to be large enough to create a wall of surface, like Kengo Kuma’s “Great Bamboo Wall” house of 2002 or his Museum of Hiroshige Ando of 2000. The surface materiality combines with the long extended walls to create an overall effect of beauty and strange weakness. The first Jacquard wall piece is called “Swan Point.” The discovery of Swan Point Cemetery’s refined grounds and its surrounding mess of thickets is the visual reference for the piece. Unlike Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, which is surrounded by the city, Swan Point Cemetery invites discovery from the outside, while peering into its timeless suspended interior from the vantage point of an outsider caged in the thickets of the present.

The yarn used for “Swan Point” is vinyl coated polyester, which has a stiffness that allows the cut floats to protrude with branchlike quality. The piece hovers above the viewer, almost ten feet, while inviting inspection into its flowing structure. Veiling is achieved by the overlapping cut threads and shows emerge from below as light is softened.

The next Jacquard wall piece utilizing the technique of cut floats is titled “Visions of Gerard” after the Jack Kerouac novel about his brother. The setting is a New England winter in Lowell, Massachusetts. The piece is an investigation of drab color set against the high/low shine of metallic material. The long floats of the piece are limp but move and subtly sparkle with a breeze or breath. The diagonal movement of the piece references the factory roofs of Lowell and the roof of Kuma’s Museum of Hiroshige Ando. “Visions of Gerard” has a subtle/strong reflectivity that changes with the intensity of the light source, darkening overall with the reflectivity being reduced and with a soft pale green pattern emerging from the ground.

“Komako 1 and 2” are the third and fourth Jacquard woven wall pieces. I wanted to make a piece that had a remoteness and surreal quality. The title “Komako” is one of the main characters in Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country. In the novel, Komako exhibits both a shadowy like beauty, as well as, strange moth like existence. Kawabata’s novel uses the dim light of the interiors in contrast with the bright flashing light of trains, the winter sun, Milky Way and moon. I wanted this piece to use the floats to represent something human and inhuman. The floats made from nylon are contrasted with the surface ground, made with retro–reflective yarn that flashes with the light. In trying to achieve simultaneity and a piece with dualities, “Komako” has an overt, direct surreal stance.


The Jacquard wall pieces capture the veiling and dimness of light I had hoped to achieve. The scale is important to their effectiveness. The plastic woven pieces capture and hold their color and atmosphere. Although the material investigations in each piece differ, each piece pushes the surface qualities further into an assemblage of structure and chaos. By removing the concreteness of cloth and making the viewer connect with their individual characteristics, the pieces erase themselves as objects and become walls.