Stitches: Interstices

The following work was presented as part of the Stitches: Souzhou Fast Forward exhibition at the WORKshop gallery in Toronto.

Whether through mechanical or manual graphing, the craft of Suzhou embroidery begins with a base image. The intricate stitching that follows affords interpretation by the craftsman but the ultimate representational goal relates to the underlying image. The deployment of various stitching techniques, the splitting of silk threads, and the density of the needlework constitute the quality of the embroidery itself.

Our interests focus upon the pictorial aspects of Suzhou embroidery and the inherent language of points lines, and datums associated with needles, threads, and base images, respectively. Through an algorithmic process we parse points from a base image respective of color difference between pixels. The distance between points is marked by circles of various diameters. On a single plane, the circles intersect. Subsequently, the circles are algorithmically parsed and separated according to their intersections. Each intersecting circle is lifted to no longer intersect with neighboring circles. Greater density of intersections results in a greater number of circles to be separated on the z-axis.  Once separated into a three-dimensional field, the circles are reduced to their center points, all of which are systematically connected by lines/surfaces via nearest-neighbor algorithms. All of this goes to say that although we begin with an image, our goal isn’t pictorial. Rather, the parsing of points and subsequent act of virtual stitching produces a unique artifact which speaks to an underlying image but privileges the processes of its own derivation, the results of which are highly differential in nature.

The following work was presented as part of the Stitches: Souzhou Fast Forward exhibition at the WORKshop gallery in Toronto.

A series of visualizations depicting a process by which points are derived from of a base image according to tonal values. Whereas embroidery often begins with the transfer of an image or a rough sketch onto fabric to guide subsequent stitching actions towards a pictorial goal, this process iterates a series of points within a three dimensional field. When connected, the points give way to a dense field of lines which privileges an abstract reading of volume and interstitial space(s) rather than pictorial intent.

A project completed by Williamson Chong

Project News

Making It Real

The artifacts produced for Stitches:Interstices have been selected to be part of Making It Real,  a juried exhibition of digitally fabricated objects organized by OCAD University faculty members Jesse Jackson and Greg Sims, with the assistance of Gregory Phillips of Spandrel Media. The exhibition takes place May 14-28 as part of the Toronto International Jewellery Festival and coincides with the Society of North American Goldsmiths’ 2013 conference, Meta-Mosaic.

Re-Stitching: Round-table

Shane Williamson represented the office last night in a round-table discussion of the ongoing exhibition STITCHES: Souzou Fast Forward at the WORKshop Gallery. Andrew Payne moderated the discussion which focused upon how the exhibition raises the concern of  how we establish meaningful connections between pre-modern and modern craft traditions. Fellow participants included Philip Beesley (Philip Beesley Architect), Lisa Steele (Steele and Tomczak), Rhett Russo (Specific Objects), Eric Boyd (Hack Lab), Rodolphe el-Khoury, Christos Marcopoulos, and Carol Moukheiber (Responsive Architecture at Daniels).

STITCHES: Suzhou Fast Forward Exhibition

STITCHES: Suzhou Fast Forward, features seven pieces of hand-crafted embroidery from the Zhou XueQing Embroidery Art Center in Suzhou, China. Dexterously stitched in fine silk threads, these exquisite pictures represent an array of subject matter including flowers, birds, and landscapes, continuing Suzhou’s 2000-year history of embroidering illusionistic scenes. Believing that this ancient craft could be the springboard for experimentation, resulting in contemporary expressions of what embroidery might be in the 21st century, WORKShop invited a small group of architects, artists, designers, and inventors to create original works. Inspired by the Suzhou tradition, they employ new technologies, processes, and materials, resulting in objects that range from purely decorative to highly functional.

WORKShop Inc.”Ž, 80 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 2V1
October 26, 2011 – Februray 18, 2012

Curator: Prof. Larry Wayne Richards
Advisor: Dr. Michael Prokopow


Donald Chong, Shane Williamson and Betsy Williamson, Williamson Chong Architects

Rodolphe el-Khoury, Christos Marcopoulos, and Carol Moukheiber, Responsive Architecture at Daniels (RAD)

Eric Boyd, Hack Lab

Rhett Russo & Katrin Mueller-Russo, Specific Objects

Philip Beesley, Philip Beesley Architect

Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, Steele and Tomczak


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