(1) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 88 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection and (2) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 50 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection, is a series of cross-stitched embroidery works, which produce a digital aesthetic similar to pixels that make up a digital computer image. To say that “I feel like a machine”, may have a negative connotation such as that associated with perfectionism. However, I see it as a way of creating a personal connection with machines and positioning myself in relation to the ways in which machines might think if they were able to. Thus, with this component of my thesis work I make a connection between centuries old domestic practices and new age digital technologies.

(1) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 88 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection (Detail), 1.5”x1.5”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017

(2) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 50 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection (Detail), 1.5”x1.5”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017

The series began by cross-stitching two small squares that were created entirely from my own mind. Therefore, I did not use a pre-established pattern to create the works, which is usually the case when cross-stitching is concerned. However, I did find myself making rules and instructions in my head while making each of the squares. Therefore, they still appear to be quite controlled and ordered. Next, the resulting cross-stitched squares were scanned digitally as Jpeg files onto a computer. The digital images were manipulated in Photoshop in order to create two new images more complex than the initial ones.

Using an online pattern design website, stitchfiddle.com, I was able to upload my new images and have them converted into cross-stitch patterns. During the conversion process some information and pixels were translated incorrectly or rather too perfectly, therefore the images look slightly different than the ones I created in Photoshop. It is a belief that machines cannot make mistakes, but maybe being too perfect can result in something that is perceived as an imperfection.

(1) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 88 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection (Detail), 7”x7”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017

(2) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 50 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection (Detail), 7”x7”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017

Subsequently, I used these patterns generated on stitchfiddle.com to create two new squares larger than the initial two small ones. However, due to the scale of the larger squares a margin for error was introduced. I did not intend on straying from the patterns in any shape or form. But due to the complexity and the thousands of stitches executed, I inevitably made errors. By the time I realized that I had made a stitch, which did not follow the pattern it was nearly impossible for the mistake to be fixed. When these errors occurred, I imagined that this would be how a machine would feel if it were human. Hypothetically, a machine that works too fast may potentially make a mistake. Thus, the machine would be unsure of how it made the error and it would be forced to accept the unavoidable results. The machine would not be able to fix the mistake either since it would have to continue to execute the instructions it was programmed to follow.

(1) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 88 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection, 20”x20”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017

(2) When I Cross-Stitch I Feel Like a Machine: 50 Hours of Self-Love and Self-Reflection, 20”x20”, Embroidery floss on canvas, Mallory Donen, 2017