Watch the film Ulaṭbānsi / Zigzagging here.
Join us for film and conversation. Ulaṭbānsi / Zigzagging is a short film that explores weaving and musical practices in India, commissioned by the PENELOPE project and produced by the Indian collective Handloom Futures Trust. Following the screening, two members of the PENELOPE team—Ellen Harlizius-Klück and Annapurna Mamidipudi—will reflect on the film and their larger project: to integrate ancient weaving into the history of science and technology, especially digital technology.

The PENELOPE project builds on the hypothesis that there was a significant but tacit contribution of textile technology to the advent of science in ancient Greece. Starting from Gilbert Simondon’s observation that technologies require an original mode of existence accounting for their particular form of detour, we propose the technological zigzag of threads in weaving as a paradigm for this mode. The project builds in theory and practice on the technological principles of ancient weaving that are hidden behind the relations of metaphor and concept or mythos and logos, and which we detect in all sorts of ancient texts, be they philosophical, poetical, mythographic, cosmological, or mathematical.

Ellen Harlizius-Klück is the principal investigator of the project PENELOPE: A Study of Weaving as technical mode of existence. Harlizius-Klück won a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant in 2015 to support the project, which is hosted by the Research Institute for the History of Technology and Science at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. Based on her studies in mathematics, art, and philosophy, Harlizius-Klück has a specific way to look at textiles as a product of mathematical as well as aesthetic considerations that lead to a philosophical understanding of weaving as a way to structure elements in a balanced order. Several grants have allowed her to pursue this unusual topic since her 2004 PhD thesis on Weaving as episteme.

Annapurna Mamidipudi
, a postdoctoral fellow with the PENELOPE project in 2019 and 2020, is currently conducting a research project on Epistemologies of Craft, funded by the German Research Foundation at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. Her research interests include the study of how craftspeople innovate their material practices and how they make knowledge claims to build recognition in contemporary society. Together with Dagmar Schäfer at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, she is co-editing a volume on the Ownership of Knowledge that looks at knowledge ownership beyond IP frameworks, to be published in the MIT Press Inside Technology series.

The PENELOPE project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the European Union, Grant Agreement No 682711.

The PENELOPE project is hosted by the Deutsches Museum.