Ingold’s conceptualization of Gibson’s “ecological approach to visual perception” distinguishing between the medium, substances, and surfaces reminds me, perhaps in an indirect way, of the artwork of Ana Mendieta. However, her artwork does not place her in the general category of “human architect” since she uses her own body as the interface of medium and substances – or the surface. Mendieta’s focus is not on her body as evidence of a human body, so like Ingold writes “here the surface of the artefact or building is not just of the particular material from which it is made, but of materiality itself as it confronts the creative human imagination” (Ingold 5). Mendieta’s work, therefore, challenges Ingold’s framework of materials to include the human body as a potential material to add to the discussion of materiality since it takes on “thingliness” and loses some of its “human” quality.
Ana Mendieta, Silueta Works in Mexico Untitled (Body Tracks),1974
20 x 13 inches, 1973-78, C-Print 35mm-slide documentation of a performance with blood and cloth
In Zoe’s class, the Archaeology of Contemporary Conflict, we’ve delved into the idea of the corpse as no longer being associated with whatever is essentially human; therefore, leaving it just another material object. The living body, though, when separated from the idea of personality or personhood could be viewed as an object as well. When the body is simply a body and not a person, then, we’re looking at its properties and not its qualities (as defined by Pye in Ingold). Would it be possible then to bring the human body into the conversation of material and materiality?