Using a circular loom, 1500 meters of thread, and a uniquely programed computer algorithm, Greek artist and engineer, Petros Vrellis has recently come up with a whole new way to knit. Unlike traditional knitting techniques, the thread used in Vrellis’ embroidery work isn’t actually woven but is instead knitted as straight lines contained within the circle—an assembly of intersecting and overlapping ‘chord’ lines, for those of us who remember geometry. The strings cross over from peg to peg 3000-4000 times, coming out to nearly a mile of string. When the string overlaps enough times, its density starts to black out the white wall behind the loom, allowing the artist to flesh out a portrait using the negative space within the circle.
A recent video Vrellis uploaded to Vimeo features a timelapse of the artist weaving together a portrait of Jesus himself. The 'weave' sequence is done completely by hand, however each step is mapped out by a computer through a specially designed algorithm that converts a digital photograph into a peg-by-peg knitting pattern. In order to translate the input from the photograph, Vrellis’ algorithm has to make over 2 billion calculations in order to produce the pattern.
Vrellis says his portraits are influenced by the works of 16th century Greek painter El Greco, whose dramatic and expressionistic style laid the groundwork for both the expressionist and cubist movements. Perhaps Vrellis' use of algorithms will start a movement all its own—a weaver’s revolution, enabled by technology.
Check out more work by Petros Vrellis on his website.