“Pro forma knitting” images as not just a lens or filter, not just a technique, but as a discipline—this approach required following a set of limitations voluntarily, in order to create an image with a certain character.
The discipline of complying with these requirements, of constantly thinking about how to meet them (and to what extent I am willing to let myself bend them) is apparently what keeps this process working for me, keeps me out of my own way creatively when thinking about images.
Note that I mean discipline not just as a defined field, but as a set of controls.
Write about the observation that when measuring row gauge, we are not actually measuring the full height of a stitch—we are measuring the height of the part of the stitch that does not overlap (row-wise) with other stitches! This is LESS than the full height of the stitch. Is this the real reason stitches to not appear to be square, or at least part of the reason?
The use of images vs. words in presentation of ideas:
I like to think about a concept I’ll call “story space”
The concept of chemical space—all the possible molecules and compounds that can be created given a particular set of starting materials and conditions … “story space” would be all the stories a viewer could imagine when looking at an artwork (or reading a story)
An image opens the viewer’s mind onto a “message space” or “story space” or “meaning space”—this space is very large and full, not meandering or convoluted; fuzzy-edged all around
A written story or message opens the reader’s mind onto an equally large, bit more tortuously constrained, space—words can direct the reader more specifically than an image is likely to
My preferred way to working/communicating: Associating a few words with an image can direct the viewer/reader toward the path I have taken through the meaning of the image, but does not constrain them as much as “all words” would
Every creator is different…but for me, creating a visual representation of a story is faster and easier than creating a written one
Not easy, or fast, but because the space you’re creating is less convoluted and constrained it can be done faster, which allows me to create more stories faster, which is more fun for me—this is strictly a personal preference about the “rate of finished product per work time period” that sustains me the best
In my writing, my readers and editors know me as someone who tries to micro-manage the reader’s experience–I think about tone, and flow, and breathing, and I try to write so that you will unavoidably “hear” the words the way I do. Relatedly, I want you to know the title of a work before you see it, if possible–I am trying to steer and control your experience of it.
One goal for me in communicating through images is to use their ability to break through the viewer’s resistance to new ideas by telling a story so quickly and intuitively that the viewer will see my point before they have time to put up a wall against it.
Melinda K.P. Stees uses knitted images—with their soft, touchable surfaces reminiscent of a favorite sweater—as a stealthy way to communicate challenging ideas without triggering defenses.
An image allows for super-efficient storytelling—not completely controlled, but very quickly deep and evocative.
When telling a story…using images instead of words may be like changing up the rhythm of a fast musical passage when practicing.
Staying occupied with one challenge makes you forget to have trouble with some other challenge.
The trick is to find the medium that absorbs you the best, that lets you get out of your own way the most easily.
Do the thing that makes you feel relief when you think about doing it.
Since focusing so much of my thinking on images, I write and speak less fluently or more slowly. Writing can still be done but it is perhaps slower as well. Speaking is definitely slower. I am saying more with actions and physical things I make.
Write about the absurd (or is it?) idea of representing an image with just ONE pixel, in in TWO colors or even in just ONE color.
It is a natural mathematical extension of all the reduction we do, in number of pixels and number of colors, and no more unreasonable than reducing from nine million pixels and ninety thousand colors to fifty thousand pixels and two colors!
Every pixel, in fact, in images of any size, represents a summation or averaging of the color and light reflectance/absorbance of some area in the real world, or in some other image.
EVERYTHING about making images is an averaging, summation, estimation, approximation of “reality” or some vision of reality.
Maybe representing a complex image in one black or white pixel is actually the most reasonable, resource-efficient, logical, effective, comprehensible way of representing reality.
Or maybe it just depends on your perspective…to aliens viewing us from space, how many pixels would be needed to tell them what they needed to know about one of our continents? Or oceans? Or would ANY number of pixels alone be enough?
Maybe pixels alone are so inadequate as a method of portraying reality that we should just go with the most efficient method and move on to better ways to communicate. What would that be–audible words? Written text? Mind-meld?
Wait, this goes against everything we believe about a picture being worth a thousand words! (How many words would a single pixel be worth?)
ANOTHER INTERPRETATION OF THE IDEA:
Now let’s go a big step further. What you probably already know, but might not have thought about explicitly, is that you can extend the statements above to read like this:
Anything you can see can be represented by a “black and white” digital image in ANY NUMBER OF SHADES OF GRAY that you choose to use, (including the choice to use ONLY black and white), and by ANY NUMBER of pixels you choose.
In other words, you don’t have to include any shades of gray, and you don’t have to use any specific number of pixels. Both things are up to you.
You can actually extend this statement to its absurd limit: anything you can see can be represented by ONLY ONE pixel, and it can be EITHER black or white. This one may seem like quite a stretch, but once you believe it, I think you will understand how much control you really have over how you present an image.
Intriguingly…I could represent a “one-pixel artwork” with a large, many-stitch artwork, to represent the shade of gray that was the “average” for the original image. So it would be a large, solid dithered field, representing one shade of gray, representing a complex original image.
The trick is to figure out in what situation this would be artistically meaningful…
Epiphany: not the moment of acquiring NEW knowledge, but the moment of recognition that something you already know is hugely significant.
An epiphany ties together the past: things you already know, and the future: things yet to be discovered. Both connect to what you are doing in the present moment, and allow you to make a meaningful narrative out of your life and work.
Everything about my work is a kind of cutting-to-the-chase evolution—a relentless winnowing down to the essence of what is important…
Ultra-low-resolution images are minimalist messages…
expressing them with knitting translates them to the language closest to the important things in my life (others would need use motifs)…
moving straight to a PRINT of (apparently) virtual knitting cuts out all the nonessential steps and goes right to the essential message.
Using the language of knitting images speaks to the constant in my life of making, handwork, and the need to occupy my mind while doing essential but frustrating non-intellectual things (children, etc.).
Knitting symbolizes what we do to remain OURSELVES while performing voluntary but taxing, tedious functions of responsibility. It remains an essential layer of meaning and texture over everything I do.
Differences between my digital designs and FilterForge filters and others…
In my works:
Images are edited and manipulated to work in large, super-low-red before any knitting or simulation takes place—they are not just a filter applied to any image
My images have intellectual and emotional content developed before any knitting effect is introduced
My knitting simulation is specifically derived from my own actual (machine) knitted stitches, just as my knitted pieces would be made
My knitting simulation is true to exactly how the image would map to stitches—each stitch is an entity, and you can’t have multiple colors Or a gradient within one stitch!
My pieces follow all the rules I would have to follow for actual knitting—available colors, stretch ratio, stitch size, etc.
PDQ Bach, Peter Schickele, and why I don’t necessarily feel the need to knit my artworks anymore (while still making them ABOUT knitting), at least not all the time…