Sam Meech (b. 1981, Huddersfield, UK) is a digital artist and videosmith whose practice includes interactive video installation, stop motion animation, documentary film, and digital textile design. He is interested in the overlap and interplay between digital and analogue hybrid design processes and the possibilities of combining the two in production and performance.
His machine-knitted animations explore the materiality of digital film-making whilst drawing attention to shared evolution of computing and textiles. Knitting is a tactile form of digital media – a tangible expression of binary design systems. As such, many ideas that we associate with screen-based digital technology (data, encryption, compression, colour, resolution) can be explored and expressed in textiles. There are limits to this approach to filmmaking – the ‘resolution’ of the image is much smaller, stitches (pixels) can easily be dropped, and the physical film format is prone to stretching and warping. However, you can wear it as a scarf.
Sam works with both mechanical ‘punchcard’ domestic knitting machines and ‘hacked’ electronic machines to produce his films. The punchcard machines utilise a maximum design width of 24 stitches / pixels, and must be punched by hand, one pixel at a time. This small resolution provides a tricky design constraint, however one is left with a handy physical ‘programme’ that is easy to reuse and store. The hacked electronic knitting machines can take a digital image (png file) of up to 200 pixels wide, vastly increasingly the potential for detail, as well as complexity.