Pattern Phinda Code: Beadwork to Code

Short thesis

Amidst a flattening of global culture where communications technology is working towards a kind of homogeneity; African vernacular knowledges reveal a deep ‘’regionality’’ in the techne knowledges of certain cultural practice. In an extended communal research encounter, we invite you to participate in the exploration of coding the vernacular forms found in Southern African beadwork and unpack a vocabulary for vernacular algorithms.


We invite digital thinkers and creative coders working in any medium to join us in exploring the complex layers of going from beadwork into code. This presentation, discussion and code-tank uses Southern African beadwork as a starting point for the exploration of beadwork patterns as a reference for complex mathematics in coding.  Tegan Bristow and Alex Coelho will illustrate their research on the complexities and politics of generating a ‘vocabulary of vernacular algorithms’ and a culturally specific creative coding curriculum. This session is part of a communal research project initiated and led as a collaboration between Dr. Tegan Bristow and Russel Hlongwane in South Africa and Alex Coelho and Joao Roxo in Mozambique. 

The session will begin with a short presentation exploring the histories of ethno-mathematics within scholarship on African knowledge and technology; go on to unpack the complexities of a ‘vocabulary for vernacular algorithms’ and explore examples in code. Following this the session invites participants to contribute, comment and explore in code - solutions towards a vocabulary for vernacular algorithms. The entire session should run for two hours, and include time for participants to present explorations to the forum.