Petar Sapundjiev

Woven Memories

“Woven Memories” is a kinetic and video installation installed in a dark space and consisting of fine metal woven mesh, water pumped at intentional intervals, a 1990s TV broadcast camera and microcontroller based control systems. The pump moves water up and through a perforated metal pipe, releasing a water flow down and over the mesh beneath it. The small water drops left atop the mesh are illuminated from behind, creating an image reminiscent of digital pixels which is then projected onto a hanging silk textile. The randomly generated digital-esque images are reminiscent of a matrix or a rasterized structure. Everything you see takes on a familiar digital identity, however upon closer inspection, one will notice that they are in fact looking at the most analog, natural, organic materials: water, light and a woven structure. The inherent behaviors of the materials are unchanged. The water itself is unchanged physically but rather it is reframed: a droplet masquerading as a pixel.

Computer “core memory” is a technology that was standard during the 1960’s. The “core memory” consists of thousands of tiny ferromagnetic rings, meticulously threaded into a matrix by female workers of the time using traditional weaving and sewing techniques. Sixty years ago,  that technology was a significant step towards miniaturization of computers and bore monumental advancements including Space exploration and Moon landings. “Woven Memories” is inspired by this history from both material and conceptual perspectives. 

Paradoxically, humans tend to fit within boxes and express individuality all at once. “Who are you?” is meant to elicit a simple answer. Black/white, man/woman, liberal/conservative, local/foreign, gay/straight, etc. This language is not actually broad enough for us each to define ourselves, however historically, we have seldom challenged it. Instead, we assume the identities – we enter the boxes that we are given. Despite this cultural dance, the essence of who we are cannot be altered. Water in a square box will still flow like a droplet. We are who we are. We cannot be truly changed no matter what box we are in.

Looking at the evolution of technology throughout the last two centuries you will see humanity’s ability to innovate with almost nothing compared with today’s abundance of materials and technologies. Has that flexibility become more difficult to harness in our current society? In this digital world, does technology deprive us of something? Or does it provide more flexibility to be uncontainable, strong, and unpredictable? “Woven Memories” seeks to inspire these questions and facilitate their ensuing dialogue. This experiential installation art piece elicits conversations around identity, individuality, and autonomy in a digital age. By utilizing ancient, basic materials and modern technologies to produce a contemporary visual, “Woven Memories” reminds us of our innate ability to innovate and suggests that we are perhaps more capable of moving through boxes instead of being contained within them.

About Petar Sapundjiev

Petar Sapundjiev is an artist with a background in engineering and exploration based in Sofia Bulgaria and New York, NY. His work explores the overlaps between modern, digital technology and organic natural phenomena and processes.  The digital structure, in his work, is a symbol of frame, matrix, societal limitation and the organic, as a symbol of the diversity, creativity and untamable quality of human nature. You can learn more about Petar Sapundjiev’s work on his instagram.
“Woven Memories” was most recently exhibited at the Governor’s Island Art Fair (New York, NY) in 2019. It was also featured in the “Water Art Festival” in Burgas (Bulgaria) in 2018. New iterations of this project are in development. Please contact me at p.v.sapundjiev@gmail.com for additional details.