Issue 3
ISSUE
STORY TYPE
AUTHOR
10
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 28, 2024
In Search of Domestic Kintsugi
by Edwin Heathcote
10
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 13, 2024
The Perils of the Landscapes We Make
by Karrie Jacobs
10
PERSPECTIVE
May 6, 2024
Using Simple Tools as a Radical Act of Independence
by Jarrett Fuller
9
PERSPECTIVE
April 29, 2024
Why Can’t I Just Go Home?
by Eva Hagberg
9
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
April 22, 2024
Why Did Our Homes Stop Evolving?
by George Kafka
9
ROUNDTABLE
April 8, 2024
Spaces Where the Body Is a Vital Force
by Tiffany Jow
9
BOOK REVIEW
April 1, 2024
Tracing the Agency of Women as Users and Experts of Architecture
by Mimi Zeiger
9
PERSPECTIVE
March 25, 2024
Are You Sitting in a Non-Place?
by Mzwakhe Ndlovu
9
ROUNDTABLE
March 11, 2024
At Home, Connecting in Place
by Marianela D’Aprile
9
PERSPECTIVE
March 4, 2024
VALIE EXPORT’s Tactical Urbanism
by Alissa Walker
8
PERSPECTIVE
February 26, 2024
What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias
by Anjulie Rao
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 19, 2024
How a Run-Down District in London Became a Model for Neighborhood Revitalization
by Ellen Peirson
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 12, 2024
In Brooklyn, Housing That Defies the Status Quo
by Gideon Fink Shapiro
8
PERSPECTIVE
February 5, 2024
That “Net-Zero” Home Is Probably Living a Lie
by Fred A. Bernstein
8
PERSPECTIVE
January 22, 2024
The Virtue of Corporate Architecture Firms
by Kate Wagner
8
PERSPECTIVE
January 16, 2024
How Infrastructure Shapes Us
by Deb Chachra
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
January 8, 2024
The Defiance of Desire Lines
by Jim Stephenson
7
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
December 18, 2023
This House Is Related to You and to Your Nonhuman Relatives
by Sebastián López Cardozo
7
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
December 11, 2023
What’s the Point of the Plus Pool?
by Ian Volner
7
BOOK REVIEW
December 4, 2023
The Extraordinary Link Between Aerobics and Architecture
by Jarrett Fuller
7
PERSPECTIVE
November 27, 2023
Architecture That Promotes Healing and Fortifies Us for Action
by Kathryn O’Rourke
7
objects and things
November 6, 2023
How to Design for Experience
by Diana Budds
7
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
October 30, 2023
The Meaty Objects at Marta
by Jonathan Griffin
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
October 23, 2023
How Oliver Grabes Led Braun Back to Its Roots
by Marianela D’Aprile
6
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
October 16, 2023
Can Adaptive Reuse Fuel Equitable Revitalization?
by Clayton Page Aldern
6
PERSPECTIVE
October 9, 2023
What’s the Point of a Tiny Home?
by Mimi Zeiger
6
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
October 2, 2023
A Book Where Torn-Paper Blobs Convey Big Ideas
by Julie Lasky
6
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
September 24, 2023
The Architecture of Doing Nothing
by Edwin Heathcote
6
BOOK REVIEW
September 18, 2023
What the “Liebes Look” Says About Dorothy Liebes
by Debika Ray
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
September 11, 2023
Roy McMakin’s Overpowering Simplicity
by Eva Hagberg
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
September 5, 2023
Minimalism’s Specific Objecthood, Interpreted by Designers of Today
by Glenn Adamson
5
ROUNDTABLE
August 28, 2023
How Joan Jonas and Eiko Otake Navigate Transition
by Siobhan Burke
5
OBJECTS AND THINGS
August 21, 2023
The Future-Proofing Work of Design-Brand Archivists
by Adrian Madlener
5
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
August 14, 2023
Can a Church Solve Canada’s Housing Crisis?
by Alex Bozikovic
5
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
August 7, 2023
In Search of Healing, Helen Cammock Confronts the Past
by Jesse Dorris
5
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
July 31, 2023
What Dead Malls, Office Parks, and Big-Box Stores Can Do for Housing
by Ian Volner
5
PERSPECTIVE
July 24, 2023
A Righteous Way to Solve “Wicked” Problems
by Susan Yelavich
5
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
July 17, 2023
Making a Mess, with a Higher Purpose
by Andrew Russeth
5
ROUNDTABLE
July 10, 2023
How to Emerge from a Starchitect’s Shadow
by Cynthia Rosenfeld
4
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
June 26, 2023
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All in Architecture
by Marianela D’Aprile
4
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
June 19, 2023
How Time Shapes Amin Taha’s Unconventionally Handsome Buildings
by George Kafka
4
SHOW AND TELL
June 12, 2023
Seeing and Being Seen in JEB’s Radical Archive of Lesbian Photography
by Svetlana Kitto
4
PERSPECTIVE
June 5, 2023
In Built Environments, Planting Where It Matters Most
by Karrie Jacobs
3
PERSPECTIVE
May 30, 2023
On the Home Front, a Latine Aesthetic’s Ordinary Exuberance
by Anjulie Rao
3
PERSPECTIVE
May 21, 2023
For a Selfie (and Enlightenment), Make a Pilgrimage to Bridge No. 3
by Alexandra Lange
3
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 8, 2023
The Building Materials of the Future Might Be Growing in Your Backyard
by Marianna Janowicz
3
BOOK REVIEW
May 1, 2023
Moving Beyond the “Fetishisation of the Forest”
by Edwin Heathcote
2
ROUNDTABLE
April 24, 2023
Is Craft Still Synonymous with the Hand?
by Tiffany Jow
2
OBJECTS AND THINGS
April 17, 2023
A Historian Debunks Myths About Lacemaking, On LaceTok and IRL
by Julie Lasky
2
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
April 10, 2023
How AI Helps Architects Design, and Refine, Their Buildings
by Ian Volner
2
SHOW AND TELL
April 3, 2023
Merging Computer and Loom, a Septuagenarian Artist Weaves Her View of the World
by Francesca Perry
1
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
March 27, 2023
Words That Impede Architecture, According to Reinier de Graaf
by Osman Can Yerebakan
1
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
March 20, 2023
Painting With Plaster, Monica Curiel Finds a Release
by Andrew Russeth
1
PERSPECTIVE
March 13, 2023
Rules and Roles in Life, Love, and Architecture
by Eva Hagberg
1
Roundtable
March 6, 2023
A Design Movement That Pushes Beyond Architecture’s Limitations
by Tiffany Jow
0
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 7, 2023
To Improve the Future of Public Housing, This Architecture Firm Looks to the Past
by Ian Volner
0
PERSPECTIVE
February 7, 2023
The Radical Potential of “Prime Objects”
by Glenn Adamson
0
SHOW AND TELL
February 20, 2023
Xiyadie’s Queer Cosmos
by Xin Wang
0
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
February 13, 2023
How Michael J. Love’s Subversive Tap Dancing Steps Forward
by Jesse Dorris
0
SHOW AND TELL
February 7, 2023
Finding Healing and Transformation Through Good Black Art
by Folasade Ologundudu
0
BOOK REVIEW
February 13, 2023
How Stephen Burks “Future-Proofs” Craft
by Francesca Perry
0
ROUNDTABLE
February 27, 2023
Making Use of End Users’ Indispensable Wisdom
by Tiffany Jow
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
The New Lessons Architect Steven Harris Learns from Driving Old Porsches
by Jonathan Schultz
0
PERSPECTIVE
February 7, 2023
The Day Architecture Stopped
by Kate Wagner
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
The Overlooked Potential of Everyday Objects
by Adrian Madlener
0
ROUNDTABLE
February 7, 2023
A Conversation About Generalists, Velocity, and the Source of Innovation
by Tiffany Jow
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
Using a Fungi-Infused Paste, Blast Studio Turns Trash Into Treasure
by Natalia Rachlin
Untapped is published by the design company Henrybuilt.
SHOW AND TELL
04.03.2023
Merging Computer and Loom, a Septuagenarian Artist Weaves Her View of the World

Charlotte Johannesson, a trailblazer in digital art, continually draws connections between physical and technology-based ways of making.

Charlotte Johannesson, “Digital Human” (1981–86)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Digital Human” (1981–86). (Photo: Helene Toresdotter)
“This was the logo for the Digital Theatre,” says Nottingham Contemporary gallery’s chief curator, Nicole Yip, referring to Scandinavia’s first digital arts laboratory. “It’s one of the images Charlotte coded into the computer, then extracted through the plotting machine—a precedent of the printer. She had to find a way to program the connection between the machines on her own.”


Trained as a weaver in the 1960s, Charlotte Johannesson recognized the connections—both formal and conceptual—between the loom and the computer early on. An innovator in the mediums of textile and digital art, the Swedish artist, 79, has since developed an idiosyncratic dialogue between the two tools that blends physical and digital craft to surprising, and often clever, effect. 

An exhibition at England’s Nottingham Contemporary gallery (through May 7) brings together Johannesson’s practice from the past 50 years, spanning weavings, computer-made images, plotter prints, screenprints, and paintings. “I’ve always been really taken by Charlotte’s work,” says chief curator Nicole Yip, who organized the show with assistant curator Niall Farrelly. “What felt incredibly rich to me was its relationship between craft and technology. I was also completely fascinated by her story: a woman whose work has pretty much remained unacknowledged within artistic institutions for most of her life.” The retrospective in Nottingham continues a recent blossoming of interest in Johannesson’s efforts, including a solo show at Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum in 2021 and an installation at the Venice Art Biennale in 2022.

Johannesson’s early weavings, made on vertical looms, used craft as a medium for counterculture, protest, and satire, integrating political or provocative slogans and imagery reflecting what was going on in the world around her—something of particular significance to the artist and to the history of weaving, which was widely regarded as a decorative pursuit done exclusively by women at the time. (Johannesson often cites the work of Norwegian weaver Hannah Ryggen’s allegorical tapestries, which condemned violence in the midst of World War II and the Vietnam War, as a prime inspiration.) Feminism, punk, and the activism of the 1970s formed her initial output’s thematic backbone. 

She planned her textiles on graph paper, plotting them out in squares, an approach not so different from the way images were coded on early computers. In 1978, Johannesson decided to give away her loom to a stranger in exchange for an Apple II Plus, an early version of the personal computer. She taught herself to program, coding her designs pixel by pixel. “If you wanted to use a computer to make images back then, you more or less had to figure everything out for yourself,” Johannesson said in 2012. “It all took a very long time—not unlike weaving.” It was indeed this “slow labor” of early digital image creation that particularly interested Johannesson, says Yip, and connected the process to her craft. 

There was also a “synchronicity,” as Johannesson put it, between the computer and the loom: “On the computer there were 239 pixels on the horizontal side and 191 pixels on the vertical side, and that was exactly what I had in the loom when I was weaving.” Technology fascinated her and frequented her creations, in which images of computers recur throughout.

When Johannesson started using the Apple II Plus, Yip says, computers were “instruments of the techno-patriarchy. For a woman to broach that domain and find her own way—that message is still incredibly relevant today.” Johannesson was one of the first people to use a computer as a creative tool to make images, and used a plotting machine—which wields a pen or other writing tool to draw lines on a surface instead of multiple dots, as traditional printers do—to translate some of these digital images onto paper, echoing her woven forms, which took a backseat during this period. “Even though she was making computer graphics, there’s still something incredibly crafted in the quality of the image,” Yip says.

In 1981, Johannesson and her husband, Sture, an artist with a keen interest in digital technology, established the Digital Theatre, Scandinavia’s first digital arts laboratory. But when that closed, in 1985, largely due to lack of funding, she stopped creating digital images. “By this point, technology had changed,” Yip says. Apple had launched a closed graphical interface that enabled people to make their own visuals; the slow labor Johannesson prized was lost. “It wasn’t so interesting for her anymore.” 

More than three decades later, Johannesson returned to her digital and physical tools with new intensity. In 2019, in collaboration with Danish graphic designer Louise Sidenius, she began to produce versions of her earliest computer images in woven form using a digital loom—a high-tech blend of a hand loom and an industrial weaving machine that uses software, such as Photoshop, to produce patterns that users can alter during the weaving process—coming full circle. She explores new ways of mixing her mediums, such as printing digitally rendered designs on handmade paper or knitting digitally inspired forms into lace. The result is a continual rethinking of what craft can be, in terms of purpose, process, and output.

We recently asked Yip to talk about pivotal pieces from Johannesson’s oeuvre, some of which are making their debut in the Nottingham Contemporary show. The anecdotes she provides shed light on the ingenuity, experimental creativity, and “punk attitude” of this septuagenarian artist, finally receiving the recognition she deserves.

A blue and green weaving by artist Charlotte Johannesson called “Brainwaves” (1970, remade by Tiyoko Tomikawa in 2020)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Brainwaves” (1970, remade by Tiyoko Tomikawa in 2020). (Photo: Michal Brzezinski)
“Charlotte has described this piece as visualizing ‘connections from above and connections from below,’” Yip says. “Even in this early moment, she was anticipating the networked nature of the internet. She was inspired by science and technology, and for me, this image is symbolic of the way she connects with the world around her and finds inspiration.”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Untitled” (1981–85)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Untitled” (1981–85). (Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens)
“This is part of a series of images Charlotte made on the computer that were saved on floppy disks, put in a box, and forgotten for a long time,” Yip says. “At the exhibition, they’re shown in large-scale slideshows.”
A weaving by artist Charlotte Johannesson called “Chile eko i skallen” (1973, remade by Tiyoko Tomikawa in 2016)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Chile eko i skallen” (1973, remade by Tiyoko Tomikawa in 2016). (Photo: Andy Keate)
“This work was made in response to the 1973 Chilean coup d’état,” Yip says. “Charlotte was interested in using what was happening geopolitically at the time as inspiration for her work, and in the work having some kind of message. So quite often in these early pieces, you have slogan-like text incorporated with different images.”
Charlotte Johannesson, “David Bowie” (1983)
Charlotte Johannesson, “David Bowie” (1983). (Photo: Lewis Ronald)
“This image shows how Charlotte experimented with output through the plotting machine,” Yip says. “She was a huge admirer of David Bowie, and made a few portraits of him. She randomly met him at a petrol station in Switzerland, and said, ‘I have these images I made of you in the trunk of my car.’ He loved them, and took away some posters for himself.”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Drop Dead” (1977)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Drop Dead” (1977). (Courtesy the artist)
“This is another work that was inspired by developments in science,” Yip says. “At the time there was a lot of talk about the atomic bomb, and Charlotte was captivated by the development of the neutron bomb. This work feels quite punk to me.”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Fairy-tale” (1992)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Fairy-tale” (1992). (Photo: Lewis Ronald)
“In the 1990s, Charlotte started making handmade paper,” Yip says. “This is quite a unique image in her repertoire, although the figure of the camel recurs throughout her work. She’s interested in the concept of the caravan, and in camels as a very early form of communicating across large distances. She’s even said they were an early form of the internet.”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Apple” (2019). (Courtesy the artist)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Apple” (2019). (Courtesy the artist)
“This is one of what Charlotte calls the ‘digital weaves,’ in which she put some of her earliest computer images into woven form [using a digital loom],” Yip says. “Magritte was one of her favorite artists, and she thought, Why not appropriate his famous apple image, and be a bit playful with it?”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Robin Hood” (2022–23)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Robin Hood” (2022–23). (Photo: Lewis Ronald)
“Charlotte made some lace pieces in the 1970s, but then abandoned the practice,” Yip says. “When I invited her to do the show, I explained the history of Nottingham as a center of lace-making, and it really sparked something. She made some new lace experiments, including this image of Robin Hood, [whose story is set in Nottingham].”
Charlotte Johannesson, “Save as Art Yes/No” (2019)
Charlotte Johannesson, “Save as Art Yes/No” (2019). (Photo: Andy Keate. Courtesy Hollybush Gardens)
“One of the digital weaves, this is one of Charlotte’s favorite images,” Yip says. “She faced a lot of resistance and rejection throughout her career: people questioned whether her textiles could be regarded as art, and also didn’t take computers seriously as an artistic medium at that time. This is her play on that.”