Weaving and Counterfactual Narratives of Technical Progress

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Elizabeth Holloway Schar Hall
@ 5:00 pm

Recording of Event

Counterfactual thinking is a form of asking “what if” questions that consider how the present would have unfolded had historical events had different outcomes. In this talk, I’ll draw from my research as an artist/computer-scientist and design researcher to present a counterfactual narrative of technical progress rooted in my deep fascination and immersion into the world of complex weaving (the practice of creating complex 3D, electronic and/or robotic structures). For example, how might our relationships with devices change if we hand crafted them from fiber, mended them with thin metals, and adapted them to our changing bodies with crochet hooks? I’ll mix historical narratives of textiles and technology with the work of students and artists-in-residence at the Unstable Design Lab to craft this narrative of technology that emphasizes humility, care, and community.


Laura Devendorf is a design researcher who builds digital tools for communicating and negotiating with materials. Her current research is deeply engaged with weaving and weavers. Specifically, she has spent the last several years developing AdaCAD, a tool for applying the principles of computational design to the creation of woven structures. The AdaCAD project has created opportunities for her to explore how slowness, humility, and care can inform the design of digital tools and the products people use them to create. She uses these tools in her artistic practice to create strange computerized garments that commemorate labor and struggle. Her research has won several best paper awards in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and has been supported by the National Science Foundation CAREER Grant. 

Laura is an Assistant Professor of  Information Science with the at the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she directs the Unstable Design Lab. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the departments of Computer Science and Intermedia Writing, Art, and Performance.  She received her PhD at the School of Information at University of California, Berkeley and have bachelor’s degrees in computer science and studio art from the University of California Santa Barbara.

Two speech bubbles with images of a woman in profile weaving (top left) and a woven textile (bottom right), with the text Phyllis Huffman Fresh Ideas logo on the top right and Laura Devendorf Mar 5 @ 5pm on the bottom right