Postanthropocentric Practices – Materials or Materiality?

In this session, we discussed materials – how they are wild and how we control them. An example of this is water: it becomes domesticated in the home, controlled by us via taps. It becomes wild again when we make a mistake, e.g if the tap is left on slightly, or if a glass of water gets knocked over.

“Material things, like people, are processes, and that their real agency lies precisely in the fact that ‘they cannot always be captured and contained” (Ingold, 2010, p. 8)

We always think of making as a project that we use materials for our own purposes, rather than working alongside them, which is known as hylomorphism. However when you consider the making process, most practices involve input from the material itself; not just the person who decided what to do with the materials. For example, in my own subject area (Textiles), I cannot think of a process that only involves the material itself. In stitch, a sewing machine is used most of the time, and even when it isn’t, a needle is still used. In dye and print, some sort of machine/apparatus is used in every process.

“I want to think of making, instead, as a process of growth. This is to place the maker from the outset as a participant in amongst a world of active materials. These materials are what he has to work with, and in the process of making he ‘joins forces’ with them, bringing them together or splitting them apart, synthesising and distilling, in anticipation of what might emerge. […] Far from standing aloof, imposing his designs on a world that is ready and waiting to receive them, the most he can do is to intervene in worldly processes that are already going on, and which give rise to the forms of the living world that we see all around us – in plants and animals, in waves of water, snow and sand, in rocks and clouds – adding his own impetus to the forces and energies in play.” (Ingold, 2010, p.21)

I think this quote relates to my practice a lot, as I said previously; it relies on a lot of machinery to achieve the outcomes intended. I have to work with a sewing machine to create patterns on materials, which would not be possible without the machine and threads I co-operate with while making. Any form of printing involves another material, even if it is just basic potato prints made by children. They join forces with the potato, using it’s structure to hold the shape they want to print with.


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