It has been a privilege to observe Robin Kang’s work over the last eight years. Her fascination with patterns and layered imagery, evident in her early images in photography and printmaking, has evolved into an exploration of technology as it relates to contemporary textiles. The new body of work presented in her first solo exhibition features a video work and beautiful Jacquard woven tapestries that build on the history of ancient weaving and continue the lineage of modernist artists such as Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl. Their early Bauhaus tapestries, incorporating avant-garde design ideas with an exploration of new materials, are catalytic conceptual and visual references for Kang. Her work acknowledges the history of the loom and its relationship to early computing machines while looking forward to contemporary media and digital technology.
Part of a new generation of artists whose practice relies on digital processes, Kang’s work layers the worlds of textiles, design, and electronics. She uses a semi-automated Jacquard loom—a contemporary version of the first binary-operated machine and precursor to early computers—to simulate industrial production through repetition and pattern formation. These textiles use core memory chips and circuit boards as visual reference points, which she translates into colorful and energetic woven tableaus that push the boundaries of the picture plane. She combines Photoshop brush-gestures with spiritual symbols sourced from ancient weaving traditions to connect the traditions of weaving, mechanical production, and contemporary glitch aesthetics.
The largest woven tapestry in this exhibition employs eight layers of thread with a sculpture double cloth technique. Kang produced this piece in the Netherlands at the Audax TextielMuseum’s TextielLab, which uses digital mechanisms to blur the lines between computer science, data visualization, and textile design. Kang’s energetic compositions embody her complete dedication to her practice. As she explores universal themes using the language of textile, she creates a fresh, contemporary aesthetic with profound visual appeal.
Robin's current show is on view at OUTLET until November 6, 2016.