Jovencio de la Paz
When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?
While studying at art school in Chicago, I offhandedly asked one of my professors, “What class should I take?” She suggested fiber, so I enrolled in weaving. As a marginalized field in craft, it answered so many questions for me. I could study the history of people of color, women, and queer bodies. But I could still work with color and geometry. It all came together in that medium.
Is there a through line or central message in your work?
I explore the history and continuity of technology and its effect on our species. Weaving is a binary operation: a warp thread is either pushed up by the loom (allowing the weft thread to pass underneath and be hidden) or stays down (allowing the weft thread to pass over it and be exposed). Computers use binary code: 1 designates an electric signal, and 0 designates its absence. Some historians consider the loom to be the first computer. If we can have deeper relationships with technology, we can think of different ways to use it.
Which artists influence you?
Weavers Anni Albers, Loja Saarinen, and Misao Jo. Painters Agnes Martin, Gustav Klimt, Joan Miró, and Paul Klee. And science fiction writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia E. Butler.
If you could travel back in time to give advice to your younger self, what would you say?
Embrace uncertainty and practice generosity. The earlier you can do those things in your career, the more you can save yourself from stress.
This pair of weavings demonstrates de la Paz’s deep investigation of the shared history of looms and computers. Viewing the traditional floor loom as a form of early computing, de la Paz works both in software programming and on the loom to create their textiles in order to bring a sense of the material to the digital. In Diddern 1.4 & Diddern 1.5, depending on the positionality of the viewer, one can experience the reflective quality of the surface as threads move from light to dark, indicating the vast potential for textile and weaving when combined with digital technology.
In Bionumeric Organisms, Jovencio de la Paz looks to the history of computers and coding to create this densely patterned textile inserted into canvas. To weave the textile component of the work, de la Paz developed software based on the programming and work of scientist Nils Barricelli (Italy, 1912-1993).
Following World War II Barricelli worked with a supercomputer used to develop atomic weapons during the war to understand evolution through bionumeric organisms. De la Paz extends this history to their computerized thread controller, or TC2 loom, where software converts Barricelli’s bionumeric organisms into weave structures and auto-grows numerical patterns, replicating the cycle of lifelike organisms. As a pattern is created, it interacts with other numbers, mirrored in the interweaving of the warp and weft threads of a loom.