kaya joan: Deep Blue
Posted: Aug 18th, 2023 | Gathering

As part of the digital component of Gathering, the Textile Museum partnered with the curatorial collective Mending the Museum. kaya joan was one of six artists invited to interpret pieces from the Textile Museum’s collection.

kaya created the video Deep Blue ( 2023) in response to a European textile fragment from the 17th century.   Learn more about the Mending the Museum project here. Click on the link below to view kaya’s video.

Deep Blue ( 2023), Video 3:59 min


Coming across a fragment from the past, many things come to mind. What are the materials involved in creating this object? What histories are embedded in this piece? Thinking about lineages, I wondered what AI (artificial intelligence) might ‘think’ about this piece of crewel embroidery from late 17th century England. Collaging AI imagery, 16-17th century English paintings, illustrations, and animations of the fragment, this short film is narrated by the voice of indigo reflecting on its life cycles. It speaks in a fragmented, poetic way, sharing its time as a seed, and alludes to its relationship with histories of exploitative labor and the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Structured like a ML (machine learning) program analyzing the fragment, the film is titled “Deep Blue,” referencing both the 1995 IBM supercomputer called “the first AI” and the mystical blue color that indigo dye can produce when alchemized from its natural green state. The film concludes with a sound collage of “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis and recordings of birdsong while scanned, printed images of the fragment are progressively layered with drawings, exploring material and immaterial intersections between artificial, synthetic and natural.  

-kaya joan, co-created with Chat GPT 


kaya joan is a multi-disciplinary Afro-Indigenous (Vincentian, Kanien’kehá:ka, Jamaican, Irish) artist born, raised and living in T’karonto, Dish with One Spoon treaty territory. kaya’s practice explores their relationship to place, storytelling, Black and Indigenous futurity and creation stories. kaya has been working in community arts for 7 years as a facilitator and artist, and is a member of Milkweed Collective. To support kaya and their work, you can find them @kayajoan

Below is the image of the fragment that inspired kaya. Learn more about the pieces in our online collection by clicking on the live links below.

Fragment [T98.0044]
Europe: Western Europe, Great Britain, England, 1675 – 1725
Gift of Mary F. Williamson to the Textile Museum of Canada


This work is created as part of Gathering, the inaugural installation of our new Collection Gallery, featuring community stories told through our global collection. Grounded in community participation, the installation presents over 40 pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection of over 15,000 objects from around the world. Choices of objects, responses, and retellings were gathered via open online calls for reflection, through partnerships with local organizations, and through artists’ interventions. Gathering explores themes related to migration and diaspora, the search for comfort in the domestic and familial, reclamation of ancestral traditions through contemporary artistic responses, and the relationship between textiles and the environment. 

Through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now Strategy Initiative.

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