I was hoping to be wow’d by Ingold’s “Materials against Materiality” after such an interesting introduction, urging me to pick up a real-life stone and place it on my desk during the reading of his article. Sad to say, I still wasn’t convinced once I finished the article. True, the rock had changed and perhaps I looked at its material a bit more than I would have when previously viewing it as just another rock on the ground, but my questions still weren’t answered. Questions like…Why should we care about the materiality of things? I think the example of Nash’s Ladder was a better example of looking at the materiality of an object, rather than form or function. When looking at the ladder, the first thing you’re struck with is the fact that it looks natural, not mass produced as usual, and as if it had grown out of the ground. But Nash’s example was rather obvious. As Miller’s critique pointed out, many of Ingold’s examples were still related to humans manipulating natural objects, but what about plastics and other synthetics? What about the objects whose material we are unfamiliar with and do not recognize/know what it is or how it’s made? “My plea, in this article, is simply that we should reverse this trend, and once more take materials seriously, since it is from them that everything is made” (14). I feel as though I DO think about the materiality of things because I am a tactile person, I always like to feel things, whether walking through a department store brushing my hand against the different fabrics, or when hiking as I run my fingers through a stream/patch of leaves/dirt. I was hoping Ingold would tell me how the recognition of materiality would be important.
The next article shed a little more light on materiality…Ingold’s discussion in “On Weaving a Basket” pointed out the concept of force, that the materials of the basket exert their own force and dictate how much an artist may manipulate the materials. Although Ingold claimed clay only had force through gravity, and thus was not the same as the basket, I think they are both important factors. The concept of autopoiesis revealed that “the artisan is involved in the same system as the material with which he works, so his activity does not transform that system but is – like the growth of plants and animals – part and parcel of the system’s transformation of itself” (345). Is Ingold’s point, then, that the materiality of things must be considered along with human manipulation… that the form of an object does not solely exist b/c of what the human saw and did with/to the object (like sculptors envisioning a form in the wood and then creating it), but what the materiality of the object allowed the human to do as well (that the sculptors must taken into account the grain of the wood)? Ok I will take these ramblings and try to form more coherent questions for class…
P.S. I just saw Laura’s post on Pollock and had a “duh” moment. What a great example of the materiality of things! Wish I had thought of that while reading Ingold for the first time.