Objects in Social Settings – Week 1 Lecture + PDP Task.

Summary of Lecture:

Our first lecture with Dr. Ashley Morgan covered two theorists:

  • Arjun Appadurai – The Thing Itself
  • Miller – What is Materiality

Arjun Appadurai’s theory and belief is that objects do indeed have a social life and that nothing is permanent – everything, both human and object – have a lifespan or life cycle. There is also discussion about the illusion of permanence as Arjun Appadurai states:

“It is not just the materials from which art objects are composed that threaten to break through the illusion of permanence. It is the very action of the artists, the craftsmen, the builders, and the framers that is always waiting to show its hand. The tear in the canvas, the crack in the glass, the chip in the wood, the flaw in the steel are not just signs of homo Faber, but of activity that art both conceals and celebrates.” – Arjun Appadurai.

In this paragraph, Arjun basically states that nothing is permanent as anything can be broken or ripped, torn, slashed etc. This theory to read and try to understand was difficult and it took breaking it down line to line to understand.

Miller discusses materiality and how in his point of view, we should not simplify the meaning of materiality. It is a very expansive and diverse term.

“A volume that spans topics as diverse as cosmology and finance cannot afford to rest to rest upon any simplistic definition of what we mean by the word material. It needs to encompass both colloquial and philosophical uses of this term.” – Miller.

So the way we describe and analyse an object in easy or difficult terminology. Miller discusses the things or objects that we do not see that surround things – but they are only missed when they are removed from our social settings because we realise how they affect our lives and comforts.

This lecture has taught me about the life cycles of objects, objects in social settings, how to analyse their placements and symbolic meaning in our world and how materiality is a constant.

PDP Task: Prague (Orloj) Astronomical Clock

prague oldest clock ever yohoho

I chose the mediaeval Astronomical clock in Prague because it is the third oldest clock of its kind in the world. Therefore it is a historical landmark. Aside from landmarks, timepieces are evident in our day-to-day lives as they provide structure and stability to daily routines. We are so accustomed to timepieces ticking away in the background that if they were to be removed from our lives, where would structure be? For example: Your lecture starts at 11am but your mobile phone no longer demonstrates the time or your wristwatch has been removed. If timepieces were to be removed from our social settings, everyone’s lives would probably be unorganized chaos.


Learning To Know About Objects: An Introduction.

Summary of Level 4 Constellation.

With Constellation at an end for this academic year, I have wanted to look back on what I have learned in this module and summarise it for my blog.

In first term, my Study Group with Dr. A. Morgan ‘The Body in Society’ was an extremely interesting choice for me as I am interested in how the body adapts, evolves and changes with time. This study group packed a lot of information on the body through the ages, at different points in centuries, how societies coped with epidemics before an impressive breakthrough in medicine, social norms, gender roles, cyborgs and so much more.

What I loved about this study group was every seminar was different. What really helped get the information across and kept the seminars lively, was Dr. Morgan’s charismatic personality and her way of talking about all different subjects kept me both entertained and interested.

The Body in Society inspired my work on Cybernetic Organs, as I was very taken on the seminar we had on Cyborgs and Cybernetics. This particular seminar fueled the inspiration for my final outcomes for Future Generations in my project brief. I learned a lot about medical advancement and how cybernetics/technology is being used or rather, applied to the body via this study group. I’m not sure what my final outcomes would have been if I was in a different study group in term 1, as The Body in Society was a driven inspiration for my projects and work.

This study group also was a large source of inspiration for my first idea for project outcomes in Beautiful and Useable, although this changed in term 2, it’s still a prime example of how Constellation feeds us knowledge and aids our ideas for projects to match the briefs we are given.

Being transgender, and this study group covering a lot to do with the body, I was able to write my essay about Masculine Gender Identity, as I was passionate about this topic. I used multiple theories I learned from Dr. Morgan’s study group and applied them to my essay. It wasn’t as well planned out or written as I thought it could have been but it was a good introduction to Academic Writing and the level I was writing on.

For term 2, I moved into Dr. M. Woodward’s study group ‘Archaeologies of the Unseen’. This study group packed a punch with a whole lot of information on different theories that frazzled my brain and also was similiar in one or two of my seminars to my first study group in term 1, as I learned about different cultures in different time periods. For example, one seminar, Dr. Woodward played us folk music from the 16th centry I do believe it was, whilst we had to make some object from things were given beforehand.

This study group enabled me to bring my own interests to the table, as I am interested in Ancient Egypt, the process of mummification etc and decided to link one of the theories I had learned in Dr. Woodward’s seminar to my essay. The theory that carried out most of my resources and tied into my essay was the ‘Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present’ by Shryock and Smail.

This study group was a strong choice for me as an artist, because, we learned about materials and how the weather could affect them. Another prime example was a seminar with Dr. Woodward, where we learned about these men who went to the beach and tried to weave baskets but the windy weather made it difficult. Another was about perception and trying to find faces within objects like trees and rocks.

There isn’t anything I would change about Constellation. I know a lot of people moan about it, but I have found it so beneficial this year towards my work, myself as an artist and a person, as well as becoming more knowledgeable. Constellation allows us to learn and develop, as well as have open-minded discussions or agree-to-disagree civil arguements.

I have learned a lot from Constellation this year. I feel I have come out of my first Academic Year feeling more knowledgeable, enlightened and definitely a lot more open-minded. I am intrigued about Constellation level 5 and what theories I can learn next, or what can be applied to my level 5 work.

The subconscious feel of materials whilst listening to music.

Perception 3

Contellation 25-2-16

Made or Grown

Much Ado About Agency

Materials shape what you can do

The form expresses the things from what it has been made from

To draw – Hard surface, certain pen, light and gravity

To what extent dothe things we make express the context and environment in which theyare made?

Are things made by human practitioners or grown amidst tensions and resistence between things?

Illusion of plans and step by step instructions and other forms of creation (habit) hides layers of complexity

Flat-pack houses) Ikea style

We are taught by step by step processes but know we cannot build everything in this manner

Instructions are not always as simple as they seem

IDEO’S Process

A project






Intelectual and Theoretical Concepts

Follow instructions

Put into action pre-conceived plan

Create and object

See Making a Project (Ingold 2013, p.20)

Ingold says it hides the work of materials

Hyleomorphism – theory of creativity

Bringing together matter to create form

(Aristotle, Metamorphosis 1029a8)

Formal Cause – efficient cause – material cause – the statue

We can trace backthe genisis of the form to the practitioner

If you accept Aristotle’s theory you would come up with this consideration

Who did the work?

Agency is the capacity of the the agent to act in the world

Human-being, or soul in religion

someone who has a consciousness or a will

Materials are not really dead, they have grains and resistence

Page 2

Properties and Forces that bend in space

A magnet is a good example as it bends space and time

Are they not alive and active in the world?

Temporatities – drystone brick walls

Other forces make and change the world can move the wall and need repair

Shifting of position of wall overtime , the weather, earth movement and plant life can dislodge the stones

an agent can be any element that bends space around itself and makes other elements depend upon itself and translateits own will into its own (Callen and Latour 1981. p.286)

Material agency

the capacity for materials to act

Malafouris. 2008.p.33

He questions an agency

It is not a propery but the emergent product of the invisible tension of the activity

A pot – brain, body, wheel and clay

the interactions of the stages – a system of things

Agency as an emergent property

the things make an extension of the agent or the agent becomes the control of the agent

The things we make emerge between things

Making is Growth (Ingold. 2013. p.21)

The maker intervenese with daily processes, a world that is always in existence

Even if the maker has a form in mind it is not the form that creates the work, it is the emergement with the materials

How formarises through movement and about dynamic properties of materials

Weather conditions canchange dynamicswhen making a basket on the beach

A dance of agency

Resistence and response to materials

Can we say that what we do always come fully formed prior to the actvity of doing it?

What become of the notions of design or making when we’re thinking this way?

What does the study of design and made artefacts in this way tell us aboutthe process of creativity?
The folk music Martyn Woodward played was relaxing and quite chirpy. The task was to play around with the materials given to us whilst listening to the music clip that was about 7 minutes long. I became quite absent minded about 2 or 3 minutes into the music and just started to roll the plastercine around in my hands. The notion of doing this reminded me about my cats’ fur and how the material felt soft like I stroking their fur.

After this exercise, we were given another task that related to materials. We had to highlight what we thought were the most important aspects of this piece of writing that spoke about students going to the beach to learn how to weave baskets.

Archaeologies of the Unseen.

Drawing a Shape


Invisible inter-relationships – body, pencil, pen, paper and surface


What it takes to draw

Light, gravity, pencil/pen, hard surface and atmosphere


Thinking through practice a language of materials


Materials have their own language


“The body hides from view in everyday experience” (Johnson, 2005)

Thinking through materials not just with the body – see Pallasamaa, 2009


We forget materials through industrial production and efficiency, algorithms, tools and procedures


Design has many different disciplines


“But we tend to intellectualise materials and tools (Pallasmaa, 2009, p.54)


How do material, tool, shape movement, thinking and perception?


The tool is an extension and it will shape the mind and our perception

The tool is an extension of the hand

The hand is no longer a hand when it takes hold of a hammer


We think through tools

An ecology of the mind (Batesen, p. 973, p.429)


We think through tools and environment

The tree and the axe (Batesen, 2000, p. 317)


Tools are incorporated into our body schema (ibid.p.141)


The world of tactile objects extend

Not an object that is perceived but an object that is perceived through


The unwritten laws of materials

Paul Klee

Art does not reproduce the visible rather, it makes visible


Gravity grow like a seed(Klee. 1964. p.31)


Form is set by the process of giving form, which is more important than form itself (Klee,1965.pp45-46) See sand figures


Lines are grown, dynamic movement, the paint seen in a dynamic term as an agent


The Phenomenology of Painting Merleau-Ponti. 1964,p127)

Painting is a way of understanding our existentialist place in this world



Page 2


We just dont see the world, we touch the world, we feel the world (JacksonPollock)


Making visible, visible invisible forces, gravity for example


Light has a force, it has a language


To draw we may angle the paper towards the light


Language of materials and context renders visible through practice


To think about everyday life and the materials that hide from our attention, whilst always shaping and allowing it to do what we do


Tools, materials and environment shape our movement, perception and thinking

Tools and materials leave a trace upon things we make just as our imagination and intentions do


Line render visible the language of materials and tools

Constellation Activities

In my Constellation seminar last Thursday, we had the activity of choosing a shape and then drawing it with either a pen, pencil or chalk. I had chose a pen as that’s a medium I always like working with. The person next to you had to hold the piece of paper up, whilst you drew the shape in the air. Then we had to write A and B, before drawing a line between the two, whilst they were held up in the air.

I think the point of this exercise was learning how different materials work with gravity or how they don’t work, as I know someone in my study group struggled with the chalk. I found it difficult to draw anything straight as it came out wobbly due to how the paper kept moving as I tried to draw the shapes in the air.