Thursday, 3 April 2008

woolly jumpers and higher geometry and girlie power and ecological awareness and mad Texan housewives all at once

Remember the news about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - the swirling plastic soup that collects in the North Pacific Gyre, which possibly covers an area twice the size of the continental US. Just for info this is what it is.

'Mr Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the "North Pacific gyre" – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it.

He was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands of miles from land. "Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by," he said in an interview. "How could we have fouled such a huge area? How could this go on for a week?"'

From an Independent article:

These women, Margaret and Christine Wertheim at the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles ( - worth visiting), with the help of the worldwide community are trying to make a statement about it through a fascinating mixture of mathematics, art, environmentalism, feminism and craft.

From Margaret and Christine:
“Growing up in Queensland with the Great Barrier Reef, we were always aware of its vulnerability. But with global warming over the past few decades, bleaching events and coral die-off have accelerated to the point where it's now conceivable the whole thing may wiped out. We wanted in some way to respond to that. And now ocean life is also facing the added threat of vast amounts of plastic garbage, which is turning our seas into a toxic stew and literally strangling marine life.

We both grew up sewing and knitting and crocheting - we were making our own clothes through high school, and we both have a deep love of feminine handicrafts, which our mother (Barbara Wertheim) taught us - and taught us to value, from her own experience as a Catholic mother of six and as a feminist activist. The Crochet Reef project was a way to bring all this together. Plus it's based on mathematics, in which we both have a professional interest, and on a discovery made by a woman mathematician, Dr Daina Taimina. People ask: Is it art? Is it craft? Is it math? Is it science? Is it feminism? It's all of the above.

The Crochet Reef itself is very much like a living reef - it grows and "spawns" as more participants get involved - and people are now involved all over the world. Like a living head of coral, the Crochet Reef is a colonial organism in which each individual "polyp" adds to the beauty and scale of the whole. The whole really is much more than the sum of its parts. For us it's not just the beauty of the finished work that matters but the process of its production - it's collective and collaborative and the totality emerges from the energies and imaginations of all the people involved. It’s very much a celebration of traditional feminine craft and a homage to the power of women's labor. And it's absurd.

When most people see the Reef the first thing they do is laugh. It is woolly jumpers and higher geometry and girlie power and ecological awareness and mad Texan housewives all at once.

We welcome you all and assure you that the only rule is there are no rules. We encourage you all to go beserk and can't wait to see what you produce.”

The IFF along with women across the world is bringing into being a 'crocheted invocation' of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, - one made from yarn and plastic trash.

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