"A series of embroidered jumpsuits investigating computing history at Bell Labs"
In An Introduction to the Bell System, we have made 5 embroidered jumpsuits in collaboration with designer Eliza Collin, exploring the history and working culture of the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs, between 1970s-90s. Though famous for the success of the Unix operating system and surrounding tools, the group's cult status online is buoyed by a much wider array of playful, experimental and sometimes anarchic work, in an era where the identity of "tech worker" had yet to be defined. This project is a work of fan art: each suit considers a strand of research from this era at Bell through the projects, in-jokes and ephemera.
The project was produced in Winter 2020 - Spring 2021, in collaboration with Eliza Collin (garment design and production) and Genie Kausto (styling and photography). Foreign Objects did the research, design and embroidery for the jumpsuits, and also contributed to the garment production. We owe a lot of thanks to Bell's archivist Ed Eckert, as well as facilitators of the Further Experiments in Art and Technology program: Domhnail Hernon, Danielle McPhatter, and Ethan Edwards. We'd also like to thank the 9front community for flying the Plan 9 flag, and making some helpful and supportive suggestions over IRC. The embroidery files for the suits were partially produced using the Studio for Creative Inquiry's open-source PEMbroider software.