This scrap re-publishes text extracts from Ailie Rutherford’s website and The Social Art Library , in both cases with the artist’s permission.

String Figures takes its title from techno-feminist Donna Haraway’s metaphor for the inextricable threads that connect us all. 

Since Covid-19 has radically changed our working practices, Ailie has been working with designer Bettina Nissen and creative technologist Bob Moyler to co-design new collaborative software for collective working centred on a principle of mutual care and co-operation. Adapted from a print-block mapping toolkit she designed for The People’s Bank of Govanhill this digital tool allows local and trans-local collectives to collaborate in an online space to remotely create intricate visual diagrams coded with information and build de-centralised support networks.

Screenshot from String Figures online workshops. Using visual symbols to map a de-centralised exchange network.

For Ailie, the visual codes, diagrams and symbols she works with are a way to understand and process the complex interrelations that make up our worlds. While map-making is often a tool of power, drawing boundaries and marking ownership, her practice subverts that – looking for where we might strengthen alternative networks and build new alliances. 

Beginning with her work on The People’s Bank of Govanhill (a feminist community currency project in Glasgow, Scotland) the article moves from Mapping an Emotional Labour Economy in to a discussion on what it means to work collaboratively through Covid-19 and “lockdown”. In a time where collective gatherings in community spaces have become near impossible, Ailie’s current work looks at how we might maintain and develop new ways of working together and acting collectively through technology. String Figures is a digital mapping work that aims to visualise and build a de-centralised open-source network founded on a principle of mutual care. 

Read Ailie’s article on ‘Mapping An Emotional Labour Economy’ here.

String Figures includes participation from Guerilla Media CollectiveFurtherfieldFeminist Economics DepartmentMilk Social Enterprise CaféCategory Is BooksThe Outwith AgencyRumpus RoomArc Independent and Feminist Exchange Network
Funded by Creative Scotland and Creative Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art. String Figures follows on from Crypto-Knitting-Circles action research with Bettina Nissen in 2019