Reef sculpture

Reeficus Pinkicus by Dr Axt.

Photo courtesy Dr. Axt.

Life on Earth begins with the simple seed of DNA, then after billions of years giraffes and peacocks appear.

So also, the Crochet Reef is an exercise in evolutionary practice slowly bringing into being an evolving ecology of handcrafted forms. Every crochet “reefer” learns an initial “seed” – the simple algorithm “crochet ’n’ stitches, increase one; repeat ad infinitum….” designed by Dr. Taimina. Then from this beginning, reefers are encouraged to explore.

What if one changes the rate of increase: going faster at first then slower. Or vise versa: slow first, then fast?  What kind of forms result from these no-longer-geometrically-pure algorithms? What if we crochet a form that’s distinctly more frilly on one side and less so on another? What if we change our rate of increase wildly; or don’t increase at all for a while? Each “genotype” variation leads to new “phenotypes” in the final models, often with surprising results. In effect, we are collectively creating a taxonomy of woolen crochet “species.”

The Crochet Coral Reef is thus an experiment; an on-going exploration of what happens as we change and complexity the underlying code of stitch patterns that serve as the DNA of each form. As we generate new woolen “genes”, new morphologies ensue.

Over the course of the project, as new participants have joined, a rich taxonomy of “species” has been brought into being, and this ever-evolving ecology parallels the process of Darwinian evolution. By branching out from Dr. Taimina’s mathematically pure surfaces, we crochet reefers “queer the code,” charting a path out o pure geometry into a landscape of almost organic possibility.

Reef sculpture

Blue Anemone by Claire O’Brien, made from New York Times plastic wrappers, with drinking straw adornments..

Photo by Alyssa Gorelick for the Institute For Figuring.
Reef sculpture

 Jellyfish by Margaret Wertheim, made from fine plastic bin liners.

 Photo by Alyssa Gorelick, for the Institute For Figuring
wide table top coral sculpture in oranges reds and blacks

Early orange reef, by Christine Wertheim.

Photo by Alyssia Gorelick for the Institute For Figuring.
Coral sculpture landscape in greens and reds and purple

Early green and purple reef, by Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim, featuring sea slug by Marianne Midelburg and coral tree by Chicago Reefer.

Photo by Alyssa Gorelick for the Institute For Figuring.
Reef sculpture Handspun yarn octopus Pink sea creature looks like a surreal jellyfish with a hot pink fluffy tail crocheted plastic coral made of orange plastic Knitted wire sea creature Delicate white objects knitted in wire, looks like a strange sea creature Reef sculpture Reef sculpture Jellyfish sculpture Green jellyfish sculpture on black background

Slideshow featuring models by the following contributors:

  • Anodized wire coral by unknown UK Reefer
  • Hand-spun yarn octopus by Helen Bernasconi
  • Flouro-pink jellyfish and anemones by Ildiko Szabo
  • Blue plastic sea creature by Evelyn Hardin
  • Orange plastic coral by Siew Chu Kerk
  • Reeficus Madness by the mysterious Dr. Axt
  • Bleached Coral Spires by Evelyn Hardin
  • Knitted wire sea creatures by Anita Bruce
  • Red+gold beaded coral by Rebecca Peapples
  • Plastic bin-liner jellyfish by Margaret Wertheim.