CONSTANZA PIÑA PARDO – KHIPU / electrotextile prehispanic computer

Guest curators selection: Robertina Šebjanič and Alenka Trebušak

The Inca khipu are textile devices for recording information, made of cotton or camelid fiber strings that store data coded as knots. They were made of organic materials such as stones, wool, vegetable fibers, ceramics and seeds. The importance of these prehispanic computers lies in the transcendental, cosmic significance and the transmitted wisdom of ancestors.

The exhibited work is an open-source textile computer based on the manufacture of an astronomical khipu. It is a sound and art interpretation of the technology, knowledge and history of Inca people designed to express how the universe is governed by harmonious numerical proportions. It is composed of 180 ropes and functions as an antenna. Each chord was hand-spun from a mixture of copper wire and alpaca wool. The ropes are connected to an electronic circuit that amplifies the electromagnetic changes at the installation site. It was done by five women in order to study the signs of the traditional Inca khipu and the analogies between this system of knots and the current binary coding system. The encoded data in it corresponds to: a spectral classification of the stars in the Boötes constellation, and celestal events that marked the work of the five weavers, like a lunar calendar; a solar eclipse and the position of the sun and moon at the time of its making.