Non-Linear History – Constellation

-No session next week, independent study

-tutorial after Easter

-focus on what you are doing for your essay

-Essay structure to guide you in week 8, discussion in small groups


-how to read a body through artefacts and objects

-objects play an important role in how we perceive the world

-all made objects can be read as extensions of, and relational to the human body (a corset)

-history of the objects tells the story of how they came into the world and what they do here. Titles of the books give away what you can find in them

-socio-cultural history as an academic discourse. Tells you the narrative of the object, what the artist-designer was trying to achieve, etc. In centre of narrative is a human being who makes the things (human intentions) and who perceives the world.

-practice from 1830, George Hegel, human progression from controlling the nature. Nature was beaten, we started to create, built on top of the nature to better ourselves politically, economically, etc.

-Michelet – still some historians follow the idea. History has to be written down, otherwise it is not classed as history from the point of view of historians. Civilizations, languages without written word are considered prehistory. Realm of scientists (archaeologists) not historians; no human, but “other”. Only in recent years it has started to be questioned.

-BP = before present moment from where we have a written document (when Bible was written)


Shryock and Smail

– textual history is limited – told from the point of people who can read, write, and use the language. We have to include objects we use.

-Deep human history fuses modern with old. Read history from other means than written in objects. Different conception of human body, not just meat but distributed through entire body of culture.

-Believed land nourished the body, it’s a part of it.

-Image represents Christ. Metaphor: think where body is, the way nervous system works. Brain has got long reach to things we use: Hammer – its weight and shape shapes the movement of how you understand and act in the world. Nervous system reaches to hammer, it is changing physical sense of brain



-you can’t go back à brain plasticity. Only recently adopted in humanity and arts. Brain changes with the more you learn, it’s not getting bigger. It develops in the time à Similar to ecological mind, extends and comes back.

-Plasticity. Not starting and ending with physical objects but includes also sounds, words, images, ideas, philosophies. Everything we do that other people experience changes their brain, it allows us to change, mould their brains. Neurological structure changes in the brain, can’t “unsee” it again, it’s physically in the brain.

-Extends to environment in which body exists. Brain structures change according to environment we live in (MRI). Migration can be mapped in the brain as well.

-Put brain back into the context.


The plasticity of the body

-Pointed out the body is also plastic

-from Nietzsche’s philosophy. Body is fragile and moulded from different points

-Practice of dairy farming helped us to drink milk

-processed food – finding links between things we would not look for links. Unintended.

-a male in Papua New Guinea – moulds nipples and waist.

-look at prehuman history. Not genetics or natural selection but nature shaped a body in unintended way, therefore no record of it. Tries to explain why people changed drastically in the history.

-look at objects and find correlation between objects and the body. Unintentional ways. Food preparation changed the shape of the body. Digestion sped up by the processing the food. Cooking with fire was the most efficient. It allowed different kind of activity and mobility. Had other effects à change of structure of jaw and physical size of teeth (need to chew less), less bacteria in mouth, palate size changed, no longer need to keep food in mouth and breathe at the same time (had to keep it in mouth for a day before swallowing) à masticate (using saliva for swallowing). Gut shrinked, works more efficiently, but no good if eating raw meat again. Muscle around gut changed with it, pelvic got narrower à unintended consequences of cooking with fire. But what if it was intentional choice? What if they knew it would have happened?


Neolithic cooking tools

-A spoon used as a carrying tool


Binding of the feet

-early shoes made out of hide, leaves


-run faster, access areas they couldn’t access before (thorny areas)

-use legs more

-by-product – shoes imprisoned the foot, blunt senses of it, changed the way tendon structure functions

-do the same things with feet as well as hands

-changes foot from a manipulation tool to a tool of transportation.

-legs became skinnier


-high platforms – to avoid crap in the streets, avoid to get bitten by rats

-objects leave the trace on human body


-design object to work with you, body is shaped by it, changes, you need to design new things.

-Everything you put out into the world, changes the world and even consciousness


Non-Linear Human History (Manuel DeLanda)

-a philosopher, links together micro histories (check a slide) how they impact on each other. The story how language emerges because of geological uplift. Any micro history is a thread, meshwork of other things, a human being exists there too.

-Steve Thomson, find causes and effects of histories.

-DeLanda looks for raptures, earthquakes and outbreaks.

-narratives from the point of a colonizer, from point of winners. New historicism, no one truth based on money and economy.


To think about

-interaction with things different now and in the past (turning the bottoms, using a phone on smartphone)

-can write about things that change the body shape in some way



-choose a topic for your essay.


-identify a phenomenon to write about.

-2500 words, deadline 5th May

-back after Easter 11th April individual tutorials, Thursdays instead of Constellation



  1. a) discuss the ways in which an idea or theory informs your practice
  2. b) select an artefact and analyse it in terms of an idea or theory
  3. c) discuss the relevance of a theory to your practice
  4. d) write about how wrong a particular theory may be


-every essay has 3 components – what, how, why

-talk about something and make it clear to a reader (insert image)

-how are you going to talk about this phenomenon

-why is it useful/not?


Do “what” section first. Identify a phenomenon. 300 word description. Describe in such a way that it starts a question. 5 possible objects you want to describe (see a slide). E.g. why is basket formed in this specific shape? Can apply to other objects. Need an object in the centre. Describe it in such a way that it leads to question. Try, in 2 weeks we will talk about it.



-Pay attention to the object’s form, to what it is

-Describe using it, touching it or experiencing it

-Describe how your experience of it differs…. (see a slide)


Week 8

-Bring your ideas, writing, objects and thoughts with you. Key – if you think you can’t do it, you won’t be able to do it. Get over the fear, it will be easy.


Author: lawrenceaaronmaker

Studying a BA Hons in Artist, Designer; Maker at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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