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Repeatless: innovating print and pattern design with generative systems

Russell, AP (2015) Repeatless: innovating print and pattern design with generative systems. In: Innovation: 8th MMU Postgraduate Research Conference, 05 November 2015 - 05 November 2015, Manchester Metropolitan University. (In Press)

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Abstract

Pre-digital textile printing technologies used in mass production mechanically transfer the same design repeatedly down the entire length of a substrate. The patterns they reproduce have to loop identically and cannot be altered without stopping and reconfiguring the printer. Whilst acknowledging that digital technology might eliminate the need for repeat, existing research and practice (Carlisle, 2002; Richardson, 2009; Häberle, 2011 and 2013; Schofield, 2012; McDonald, 2013; Paramanik, 2013) require a design to be completed prior to printing. It is proposed that if a dynamic pattern could be created that changed in real time, it could be streamed section by section to a digital fabric printer to produce a repeatless design of potentially infinite length. It is suggested that a generative system be used to do this, specifically a cellular automaton, coded in the Processing environment (Reas and Fry, 2007). Within it, motifs or other visual elements interact via a series of algorithms, using a grammar developed from traditional, non-digital methods of designing repeat pattern for printed textiles. The outcome is a design of any length that never repeats; furthermore the algorithms offer criteria by which the quality of the outcomes might be tested via peer review. This project is an interdisciplinary, practice-led MPhil/PhD, covering design, generative systems, computer programming and complexity. It is the particular synthesis of elements from the different areas that make this work innovative, shifting the paradigms of what pattern is and the way it can be reproduced.

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