EMILY ZILBER
Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
"Crafted: Objects in Flux"
In works that consider the links and dissonances between textiles and technology, Faig Ahmed transforms the visual language of traditional Azerbaijani rugs through playful interventions that reference contemporary computing. Ahmed grew up in Azeri home filled with carpets, displayed as both floor and wall coverings, and a work such as Hollow (2011) borrows its iconography as much from the artist's cultural background as from the kinds of endlessly changing visuals that populate computer interfaces. For example, a kind of virtual magnifying glass – a movable "lens" that creates a bounded area around the mouse pointer to enlarge a section of the computer screen – is commonly found as part of suite of tools to increase accessibility. Ahmed takes this idea of magnification or distortion of one segment of an image and melds it with the presumed immutable plane of the handwoven rug, made using the techniques and technologies that for millennia have defined Azerbaijani carpets- an overall form proclaimed a masterpiece of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO in 2010. Hollow seems to present simultaneously as both the object and its physical examination made dysmorphic by an unseen hand, recognizing a visual effect of the digital world while also keeping in mind a long and storied tradition of making.

In his unconventional weavings, Ahmed furthermore pays sly homage to the historical role of the textile industry in the development of computers. In 1801 the French inventor Joseph-Marie Jacquard mechanized weaving with a programmable loom that relied on a system of punch cards to control the pattern of warp threads.

This was later adapted by the English inventor and philosopher Charles Babbage in the 1820s to design a calculator called the "Difference Engine", which is largely considered the predecessor to modern computers. In Ahmed's carpet Tradition in Pixel (2010), he plays on the visual resemblance between a pixilated square and a simplified plain-weave structure while also evoking the frozen screens, unforeseen glitches, and electronically magnified images that are commonplace in our online and digital lives.

Ahmed activates static, tangible objects that hang on the wall by implying that they are caught in the midst of down-or uploading, instilling each work with a new sense of depth, space, and flux.