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The Knotted Line (2014)

The Knotted Line (knottedline.com) is an interactive, tactile laboratory for exploring the historical relationship between freedom and confinement in the geographic area of the United States. With miniature paintings of over 50 historical moments from 1495-2025, The Knotted Line asks: how is freedom measured? Just as importantly, The Knotted Line imagines a new world through the work of grassroots movements for self-determination.

The project includes a free curriculum developed with educators across the country. The Knotted Line has been presented in gallery formats at numerous venues including Alcatraz Island and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, talks and workshops including at the American Studies Association Annual Gathering and the Allied Media Conference, and in educational residencies at high schools, middle schools and colleges (UC Berkeley, USC, Kalamazoo College among others).

Project Team

Evan Bissell - Director, Painting, Curriculum, Research
Erik Loyer - Design and Programming
Tanya Orellana - Research
Lisa Nowlain - Research
Josh Begley - Additional Concept Design
Content management by Scalar, a project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture
Ora Wise - Curriculum

The Knotted Line was made possible through the generous support of:

Panta Rhea Foundation
East Bay Community Foundation
United States Artists Projects
Numerous individual donors

 

 

 The Knotted Line interface consists of black silhouettes that can be "opened" to reveal paintings and text about specific historical moments. 

The Knotted Line interface consists of black silhouettes that can be "opened" to reveal paintings and text about specific historical moments. 

 By clicking on a painting in the silhouette interface, users enter a new page that highlights related "Actions for Self-Determination" and media.

By clicking on a painting in the silhouette interface, users enter a new page that highlights related "Actions for Self-Determination" and media.

 The timeline goes from 1495 to 2012 (when the website was published) and then offers speculative possibilities for the future up to 2025.

The timeline goes from 1495 to 2012 (when the website was published) and then offers speculative possibilities for the future up to 2025.

 Painting detail. The top part of the image references the number of people incarcerated or under supervision in the U.S. based on the skylines and populations of L.A., Chicago and Boston. The bottom image references the continuation of Guantanamo prison in Cuba. 

Painting detail. The top part of the image references the number of people incarcerated or under supervision in the U.S. based on the skylines and populations of L.A., Chicago and Boston. The bottom image references the continuation of Guantanamo prison in Cuba. 

 A painting that references the growth of three strikes laws in the country, using Escher's infinite staircase as a departure point.

A painting that references the growth of three strikes laws in the country, using Escher's infinite staircase as a departure point.

 A painting that references the connection between law and violence.

A painting that references the connection between law and violence.

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 After the publication of the website, I worked with Ora Wise and educators around the country to develop a curriculum for using the project. The curriculum includes 9 workshops and 3 projects. The curriculum is free to download at knottedline.com

After the publication of the website, I worked with Ora Wise and educators around the country to develop a curriculum for using the project. The curriculum includes 9 workshops and 3 projects. The curriculum is free to download at knottedline.com

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