Interpreting tradition in the digital age : can the qualities of a 1930s to 1950s archival printed fabric be captured utilizing digital technology?
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The development of printed textiles has taken on considerable change from its analogue European inception in the 18th Century to the digital mass market of the 21st Century. The introduction of digital textile printing has revolutionised the industry in the last decade, providing scope for unlimited design options and versatile production units. However, to coincide the authenticity of traditional methods such as screen-printing are being lost or replaced. Fortunately, archival resources provide opportunities to witness first-hand our past traditions and heritage. The intention of the research was to explore the possibilities presented by archive and digital technology utilization. The research employed archival resources to identify the key characteristics of 1930s to 1950s printed fabrics. The era was selected because of the significant development of process with the introduction of screen-printing for industrial application. In addition, designers injected colour, texture and pattern into their textiles in response to the austerity of economic downturn and the onset and conclusion of war. Consequently, this encouraged a new design aesthetic supported by industry journals such as The Ambassador and particular manufacturers of the time. A matrix of characteristics was devised via a case study of selected fabrics. The collected data was developed further utilizing current textile design software and hardware resulting in a series of test samples exploring the identified characteristics. Further analysis via a questionnaire and interview with an industrial printworks provided understanding to the opportunities presented from a commercial and industrial context. In conclusion, the research will investigate whether the qualities of archival printed fabrics can be captured utilizing digital technology. The research will attempt to determine that the preservation, reinterpretation and application of historical artefacts via digital means could be a tool to aid the preservation of traditional fabric making methods.