Ch2 - The Materials of Life
- Objects having evidenced other lives.
- Mary Douglas' (1966: 44) definition of dirt as matter out of place.
- Tactility vs Detachment
- We prioritise 'stillness of form'.
- We assume an object to be something with discrete borders between it/ti-ness and other/other-ness.
- The distinction between tools and the tooled material.
'What is odd is that studies of the material culture of kitchens have generally concentrated on pots and pans, and spoons, to the virtual exclusion of the soup. The focus, in short, has been on objects rather than materials. Yet on second thoughts, this is not a division between what we find in the kitchen: objects here; materials there. It is rather a difference of perspective.'
'This chapter is about bringing things back to life. It's basic argument may be expressed by means of a simple diagram. Draw two lines: they need not be straight; indeed you can allow them to meander a little. However, they should proceed alongside one another, like the trails left by two people walking abreast. Each is a path of movement. Let one of these lines stand for the flow of consciousness, saturated as it is by light, sound and feeling. And let the other stand for the flow of materials as they circulate, mix and meld. Now imaging that each of these flows is momentarily stopped up. On the side of consciousness, this stoppage takes the semblance of an image, like a fugitive suddenly caught in the glare of a spotlight. And on the side of materials it takes on the solid form of an object, like a boulder placed in the fugitive's path, blocking his passage. On our diagram we could depict both stoppages by a point or blob on each respective line. Now draw a double-ended arrow connecting the two blobs. Unlike the original pair of lines, this arrow is not the trace of a movement; it is notional rather than phenomenal, and depicts a connection of some kind between image and object. Now that our diagram is complete, we can sum up the argument of this chapter, and indeed of the entire book. It is to switch our perspective from the endless shuttling back and forth from image to object and from object to image, that is such a pronounced feature of academic writing in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture, to the material flows and currents of sensory awareness in which images and objects reciprocally take shape. In terms of diagram, this entails a rotation of 90 degrees, from the lateral to the longitudinal.'
'With regard to perception [Ingold's approach] underpins the distinction between an optical and a haptic relation to the world.'
'With regard to creativity [Ingold's approach] distinguishes the improvisatory creativity of labour that works things out as it goes along from the attribution of creativity to the novelty of determinate ends conceived in advance.'
'We are accustomed to think of making as a project. This is to start with an idea in mind, of what we want to achieve, a with a supply of the raw material needed to achieve it. And it is to finish at the moment when the material has taken on the intended form. At this point, we say, we have produced an artefact,' (Author's emphasis)
'I want to think of making, instead, as a process of growth. This is to place the maker at the outset as a participant in amongst the world of active materials.' (Idem)
- Isn't this a thoroughly selfish way of considering making? Is it indulgent and luxurious and fit only for a pastime? Important work is that which constitutes an attendant outcome that can be utilised, witnessed, enjoyed, or moved by. Process is nothing more than process. Nothing more than itself.
'To read making longitudinally, as a confluence of forces and materials, rather than laterally, as a transposition from image to object, is to regard it as a such a form-generating - or morphogenetic - process. This is to soften any distinction we might draw between organism and artefact. For is organisms grow, so too do artefacts. And if artefacts are made, so too are organisms.' (Idem)
- This I can agree with.
'Even if the maker has a form in mind, it is not this form that creates the work. It is the engagement with materials.'
- This is troublesome. How can such a generalisation be made?
- Ingold's reed-baskets-on-the-beach example - This is beautiful (as process) and ephemeral, but I don't want to see it in lieu of 'a work'. A work is something given to the world that can exist independently of the make. Process requires the continual presence of the maker to validate it.
- George Simondon
- Can hylomorphism work for non-dynamic (ie. inanimate) objects and be thrown out for individuals with identities?
- Is this not just an ad hoc adaptation of Deleuze & Guattari's philosophy? - ie. view all of life through the same prism. Some things will work, others not.
- On the material giving back: This is just basic system feedback and Ingold is overstating the role of the material in his example of the blacksmith. Anti-hylomorphism assumes the same one-size fits all approach that it seeks to eradicate.
'In every case, there seem to be two sides to materiality. On one side is the raw physicality of the world's 'material character'; on the other side is the socially and historically situated agency of human beings who, in approaching this physicality for their purposes, are alleged to project upon it both design and meaning in the conversation of naturally given raw material into the finished forms of artefacts.'
'...the hylomorphic characterisation of materiality as form-receiving passivity rather than form-taking activity.'
- The alchemical definition of gold is the bedrock that any manner of latters can built upon. If opting for alchemy, we end up in a cul-de-sac of potential outcomes.
'...we should avoid the temptation to turn understandings drawn from one particular context of material-technical interaction into a meta-theory for everything else.'
- Too late, the author already did that back on page 26.
- By quoting Zumthor 2006, Ingold confuses a materials endless possibilities for mutability with its potential endlessness.
'Any attempt to produce a classification of materials, in terms of their properties or attributes, is bound to fail for the simple reason that these properties are not fixed but continually emergent along with the materials themselves.'
- This in itself is a classification.