Slow Breaking News

For my Masters in Graphic Design thesis project at New England School of Art and Design, I designed and stitched breaking news stories into cross stitch samplers. I juxtaposed content that is extremely fast and ephemeral (breaking news stories) with a very slow and archival medium (cross stitch). I wanted to see how this transference of medium affects the message of these stories and highlights the absurdity of the way stories are reported in the media and the way we consume them.

Each piece took about 25 hours to stitch. I used source imagery (scroll down in this post to see some of the images) from TV broadcasts and news websites. Since I only roughly sketched out the designs of each before I started stitching, much of the designs are improvised, and much of that stitching time was spent contemplating form and color, not just manual work. I came to think of cross stitching as a very slow mode of drawing. I completed 6 of these over about 4 months.

I think of the process of cross-stitching news stories as a kind of "test", as in: does x, y or z news story pass the cross-stitch test? A year or two later, does the story still have enough relevance to not seem absurd archived in this permanent and time-consuming (~25 hrs each) medium?

This Summer (2011), I worked on documenting the work that I did in the Studio phase. For this documentation I created a visual identity for the pieces under the title "Slow News", a play off of the Slow Food Movement. Slow News is an alternative to the fast-breaking online news cycle that puts emphasis on speed rather than depth or accuracy. The existing news cycle encourages us to dip and out rather than sustain attention on anything for a significant time. After thinking about what Slow News could mean for a while, I looked up the term, not expecting to find anything. But one relevant article did come up, by Walter Shapiro for Politics Daily. This was very useful in my documentation process.

My documentation consists of three handmade books with stitched covers made of cross stitch paper. Book one is research about media theory, book two is research about cross stitch history and art history and book three is documenting the final work. The last part of my documentation is a take-away DIY cross-stitch the news kit, allowing people to stitch their own headline.

Hand-stitched copies of these pieces can be created upon request contact me if you are interested!

My Thesis Studio book, documenting all of the pieces. →