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Oh Come All Ye Hackers

Andrew Salomone has been hacking electronic knitting machines for a while now to produce digital prints in woolly form and he's just taken on a Christmas jumper project, see here how he was able engineer the 80s device

It’s officially December, and with great tidings now upon us the obligatory knitted sweater rears it’s bobbly worn out head once again to clad those of us eager for the Christmas countdown. But before you dust down your vintage woolen jumpers, be sure to check out Andrew Salomone at KK Outlet this month – doing away with all Christmas jumper convention in true hacker style. Teacher, artist, and electronic knitting machine hacker, Salomone's woven offerings for this Christmas have been created using an engineered Brother KH - 930e printer. Described by the artist as a "ridiculously looking contraption", this machine is currently servicing Salomone's quickly growing collection of intertwined apparel. Used as your average desktop printer, Salomone’s knitting machine has spun pieces featuring works by Anthony Burrill, Siggi Eggertsson, Nous Vous, Genevieve Gaukleran (all featured in the exhibit) and Salomone's own "self- portrait balaclava", an essential item for a man who understands the importance of staying warm and remaining recognized throughout the festive period...

It’s not just Christmas jumpers that Salomone has taken to. Other knitted designs include the ‘Amen Break’ piece - created in homage to Gregory Sylvester's seminal drum solo from the 1960's, widely recognised as one of the earliest and most commonly used Hip-Hop and Drum and Base samples; looped and fashioned onto a Salomone scarf. His Bill Cosby jumper was presented to the popular US Icon on Good Morning America and features the comedian wearing a sweater of himself, wearing a sweater of himself. And Salomone also recently donated his ‘#occupy’ Occupy Wall Street scarf to Bill the Zucotti Park librarian. The selected works are currently on show at the KK Outlet in Hoxton, including a knitted version of the YouTube hit Slayer Christmas Lightorama, where Salomone will also be turning submitted designs from the public into custom made winter sweats. Dazed caught up with Andrew to find out more about his multi-threaded madness.

Dazed Digital: Where did the idea for hacking the knitting machine come from?
Andrew Salomone:
I used to live in a really badly insulated house and I ended up sleeping in a balaclava in the winter, then I realised that my neighbors might see me walking around the house in it, so I decided that I should make a balaclava with my face knitted onto it. A friend of mine had an electronic knitting machine from the 80s and I asked her if it would be possible to knit digital images on it. She thought it was, so she contacted a friend of hers who is an electrical engineer and they wired a new cable for the machine to hook up to a computer and used some programs that had been written to emulate the external floppy drive that the machines originally came with.

DD: How did you hack the machine?
Andrew Salomone:
The machine I'm using came out in 1980 and was supposed to be an upgrade from the punchcard machines that had been used up to that point. It was designed to automatically to create whatever pattern was programmed into the machine. This hack works by tricking the machine into uploading a file it thinks was manually programmed on the machine, but was really made in photoshop and converted to a compatible file format.

DD: What kind of designs have you printed so far?
Andrew Salomone:
I've printed a lot of photographic imagery with the knitting machine but most of the imagery for the exhibition was created by other designers so there's more text and bold imagery than I've knitted before.

DD: What are your plans for after the Christmas jumper project?
Andrew Salomone:
After the exhibition I'm planning to go back to my studio in Brooklyn and experiment with the machine some more. I have some attachments that people have given me that I have not had the chance to mess around with them yet.

Oh Come All Ye Hackers, KK OUTLET, 42 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB, until December 22, 2011