• 10.02.17-21.05.17
  • TUE–FRI 12:00–20:00
  • SAT–SUN 12:00–18:00

Hoopla: Computer-Generated, Human-Produced Embroidery

Gillian Smith (US)


Embroidery is a millennia-old
 craft and art form, practiced predominantly by women and passed down from mother to daughter. The craft has morphed and adapted over time as new technologies have influenced it. New dyeing methods, synthetic threads, and machine embroidery have introduced new styles and techniques into the craft, and
 the growth of online communities of embroiderers have transformed the way newcomers learn, share, and are inspired by their craft.
 Yet, through all of these technological advances, the craft has remained grounded in its long-standing traditions.

The growth of artificial intelligence and computational creativity
 have the potential to once again transform this handcraft.

Hoopla is a computational creativity project involving an AI system
 that designs embroidery sampler patterns that are then hand-stitched. The system chooses color palettes and quotes from internet sources, and pairs them with procedurally generated motifs to decorate the remainder of the sampler. The result is a digital aesthetic rendered with human, physical labor. Hoopla interrogates the relationship between the digital and physical, new technology and old traditions; the predominantly masculine world of computation and the predominantly feminine world of needlepoint.


Gillian Smith is an assistant professor of art and design and computer science at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on computational creativity, computational craft, and gender in games and technology.

She is particularly interested in treating generative design as a way to formalise the creative process, bridging the divide between the digital and the physical, and exploring the relationship between computational thinking and craft practices.

Gillian’s work has been shown
 in venues such as the ACM CHI
 on Human-Computer Interaction and Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGGRAPH) conferences; the 
Indie Arcade pop-up show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Boston Festival of Independent Games; and IndieCade.

sokath.com hoopladublin.tumblr.com @gillianmsmith