Dr. Birgit Schneider of the University of Potsdam, Germany will present on the history of punch card weaving in a talk sponsored by the STS Department, the Art Department, and the Colby Museum of Art.
If we examine early weaving mechanisms of the 18th century, we arrive at a source point of digitization: this point is not situated, as one might expect, in the 19th century, when Jacquard presented his version of the control principle using punch cards; rather, it can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the 18th century. Here, in the context of French royal courts–and, in fact, initiated by these courts–we find the historical origins of machine engineering, cybernetics, and mechanical control. A surprising result of the analysis of the history of weaving is the following: not only was technology an inspiration for culture, but conversely, culture and the arts also generated and spurred on the ideas behind such significant technological developments as punch card control. In her talk she will present some of the early punch card looms and situate them in between ornament, fashion, technology and notations.