Threads and Codes: A Research Symposium


 Threads and Codes Symposium, 10am-6pm, 6th March 2015
137 Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

The Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project explores the practices of weaving and computer programming together, considering both looms and computers as algorithmic environments for creative work with pattern. The connection between computing and the Jacquard loom is well known, but we want to go deeper in history and philosophy, to investigate traditional work with threads for its digital nature, including the genesis of discrete mathematics in ancient looms. This will provide an unravelling of contemporary technology, finding an alternative account of computer programming with its roots in arts and craft. On this basis this symposium will investigate contemporary theoretical points where textile and code-based crafts connect.


Abstract for Nigel Morgan’s Presentation

Nigel Morgan discusses how digital technologies and coding in particular have influenced his ‘making’ as a composer of concert music for human performance. He looks at coding structures for pre-composition: to create pitch and rhythm events ‘out of time’ and prior to sonification; how such coding can explore ‘what ifs’ , aid reflection about intention, and produce rough prototypes. He explains how taking up weave as a hobby in 2008 in both floor loom and tapestry formats enabled him to explore the fine art weave of Ethel Marait and Anni Albers, both weavers who created their work through improvisation at the loom. He demonstrates what he sees as a very subjective relationship between event-based music composition, rough prototyping of music in code, and weave structures.

Jilly Edwards: Walk to Zennor (2000) wool, cotton and wool on a cotton warp.

Supporting music resources:

Studies in Movement for solo violoncello

Three Canons for 2 violins

Three Canons for 4 violins


Sense of Place

ICCMR Paper – Evolutionary Forms

Supporting code resources:

Symbolic Composer


Code annotations of many published compositions

Parametric Composition

Supporting weaving resources:

Crafts Study Centre (Ethel Mairet)

Structure: Intuition and Invention (Sue Lawty)


Pictorial Weaving Part 2 (Anni Albers)

Further Inspirations

Complex Weavers

Susan Johnston (Avalanche Looms)


Nigel Morgan has worked with computer assisted composition systems since the mid 1980s. In 1988 he began coding his music in LISP assisting in the development the Mac application Symbolic Composer. Between 1992 and 2012 much of his concert music, including several BBC commissions, were written in code with this software. In 2012 he was invited to be part of the design team for the Opusmodus software, a LISP application incorporating sophisticated staff notation rendering and a Live Coding Instrument. He wrote all the tutorial resources and many of the example compositions found in Opusmodus including a concerto for violin and strings.

In 2008 he began to weave studying privately with Laura Rosenzweig, Sue Lawty,  Jilly Edwards and then for an HND in Woven Textile Design at Bradford College. He weaves on a 4-shaft Toika loom.

Imprint: Tonality Systems Press

Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves is a Digital Transformations project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK. For more information on the project, see