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Weaving our Past into the Future

On the 14th October, SILKNOW had its final review meeting. All work packages were presented, after a discussion, the work done so far in SILKNOW was approved according to the EU standards. It has been more than three years of weaving our past into the future. We have woven a network with different users, from museums to young designers, from technology to traditional industries. All to protect, conserve and disseminate the important heritage of silk.  Here is a summary of what we have been weaving these years and why.

Silk has surrounded us for centuries, from royal beds to traditional costumes, from liturgical vestments to ceremonial flag. It has been everywhere, within the Silk Road,  but also beyond it. Silk weaving has shaped manufacturing cities and trade routes, engaging visual artists, engineers and multitudes of workers.

Community, identity, history…Tangible and intangible experiences, technology, knowledge, arts and crafts inherited generation after generation. It is a link from the past to the future.  This heritage is still alive, but it may die soon. The artisans who used to weave using traditional techniques and looms are disappearing. Valuable historical fabrics are endangered by their sheer fragility. But technology continues to be very close to silk heritage, even today.

“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

We have taken Ada Lovelace’s words as an inspiration to merge humanities and technology, in a team coming from six European countries. We have been working during three years to protect and disseminate silk heritage, weaving a net among academia, computing, arts and crafts, design, and creative industries.

Conferences, exhibitions, fashion catwalkstraining and capacity building programs, publications, all around silk heritage, have contributed to illuminate its important past, and its promising future.

In addition to that, we have created some digital tools

We have worked to create a unique resource, a thesaurus about silk in four languages, including one thousand words. It is based on many sources from across Europe,so that experts, museums, and just about anyone can delve deep into this knowledge.

Looking carefully at historical techniques, we have produced a digital memory tool, the Virtual Loom, that is able to weave on screen like a Jacquard loom does, giving the creative industries a chance for experimentation and business.

We have integrated the information from many museums bringing together data about thousands of objects around the globe locating them in time and space, giving everyone access to this hidden but precious heritage.

In short, we continue to weave the past into our future. Do you want to join us?

Related news:

SILKNOW online meeting

On the  5th and  6h of May, the SILKNOW team held an online meeting to discuss the project’s advancements. This meeting was originally going to take place in Nice, France at EURECOM Headquarters but, due to COVID-19, we had to hold it online.  Confined but active, we used these two days to explain each Work Package advancements and the interdisciplinary work they require.

The connections between the Virtual Loom and the modelling of textual annotations were discussed, we also began to coordinate the integration of new classes and properties with the expertise of our colleagues from CNRS-Université Lumière-Lyon 2.  This led to a discussion on the coverage of our Knowledge Graph as we want to consider also these objects that explain how silk heritage has evolved over time.  Next, our Italian colleagues from UNIPA explained to us how they are going to evaluate all the SILKNOW tools.  Finally, we saw for the first time how the Search Engine will be… but we do not want to let the cat out of the box!

These were two fruitful days, we showed that even in quarantine our team remains strong and still from our homes, we keep weaving our past into the future.

SILKNOW’s technical meeting

SILKNOW held a technical meeting, in Ljubljana, on the 10 of February. The meeting was attended by our partners from Institut Jozef Stefan, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, EURECOM, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Universita degli Studi di Palermo (remotely). 

The main topics discussed concerned technical work in progress involving multiple partners such as multimodal prediction, integration of predictions into the knowledge graph,  mappings between the thesaurus and the knowledge graph, and finally, validation scenarios for the technical tools. SilkNOW technical video presentations were recorded.

SILKNOW Hannover meeting

On the 11th and 12th of December, the SILKNOW team gathered at the LUH HQ in Hannover, Germany.  The session was opened with a short meeting with the SILKNOW EEAB, where the project advancements where showed.

Next, each Work Package leader explained the progress report and cross-work packages discussions were held, especially regarding the impact of the extension of the ontology. It was the time to talk about how to connect the Thesaurus with the Virtual Loom, CIDOC-CRM and the Ontology.  Many philosophical and technical discussions were conducted, the interdisciplinarity of the team was key to address the problems we found on our way. Textiles in general, and silk in particular, have an extra difficulty to understand their materiality, their construction and their evolution in time, that is why, SILKNOW has art historians, artisans, textile engineers, ICT engineers and digital savvy’s in their team.

Finally, the next face-to-face meeting was scheduled, it will take place in May in Nice.

Hannover meeting

On the 11th and 12th of December, the SILKNOW team will gather in LUH HQ in Hannover, Germany. There we will discuss the evolution of the Work Packages, including how our Virtual Loom, thesaurus and Ontology are being done. And it will mark the beginning of the WP7, which is the evaluation of the overall SILKNOW tools.

1ST year- review, dressed to the nines

On the 27th June, we held an event at the Museo del Traje in Madrid for fashion schools, technologists, museum curators and universities.  This celebration served as a forum to establish common points between cultural heritage and technology, weaving our past into the future.

SILKNOW was introduced by Dr. Ester Alba, dissemination and exploitation manager, who showcased the importance of silk heritage for the European economical, industrial and cultural development both in the past and in the present. This presentation was followed by an interview between, Dr. Cristina Portalés, senior researcher, and Dr. Rodrigo Martín Galán, Research Progamme Officer (European Commission). They discussed about the growing connection between humanities and technology in European projects.

On the 28th June, SILKNOW had its first review meeting at the Instituto Cervantes at an impressive meeting room covered by an imposing glass dome. All work packages were presented and the future paths for the project were traced. After a discussion, the work done so far in SILKNOW was approved with the according to the EU standards.

SILKNOW Lyon meeting

Lyon meetingOn the 10th and 11th of September, SILKNOW held its second meeting in Lyon, France. It was hosted by CNRS-LARHRA, a project member, at the Maison des sciences de l’Homme Lyon.

The meeting was attended by leading institutions of the Lyon textile world, such as the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie Saint-Etienne, the Musée des Tissus de Lyon, the Musée de Bourgoin Jailleu and the Denis & fils SAS or the the Tissages Perrin . The Service Patrimoines et Inventaire général- Direction de la culture et du patrimoine- Région ARA, the President of the Commission Qualité et Technique d’Intersoie France and the Director of the Instituto Cervantes center in Lyon were also present at the meeting.

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SILKNOW Kick off meeting

From the 3rd to 4th May, SILKNOW celebrated its first meeting hosted by the project coordinators at the Universitat de València. Marcos Fernández and Ester Alba (UVEG) welcomed all participants to the kick off meeting of the project. Later on, all the partners gave a brief introduction of their institution and explained their main role in the project.

Later on, all partners enjoyed a private visit to our partner GARIN’s installations At GARIN, Elena Ribes, Garín’s CEO, explained all partners some technical aspects of ancient weaving techniques. She also showed ancient textiles collections and originaltechnical drawings.

Finally, the project officer of the project, Mr. Rodrigo Martín Galán, joined the meeting via a Skype videoconference. He explained in detail the overall procedures that the project has to follow.