By Adam Drazin, Susanne Küchler
The Social lifetime of Materials
Studies in fabrics and Society
Editor(s): Adam Drazin, Susanne Küchler
Media of The Social lifetime of Materials
Edition: 1st, 2015
Imprint: Bloomsbury educational (UK)
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Extra resources for The Social Life of Materials. Studies in Materials and Society
She shows how it is the experience of the material, and especially the particular sensoriality associated with it, that enables people to locate themselves within history. The materials paradigm here functions to historicize and politicize the self and self-consciousness. More importantly, she stresses the capacity of materials to reveal, to clarify and to challenge social relations, especially historicized ones. The blankets that she studies, within an art context, are in some ways social life made manifest.
Transformations here occur of different kinds. Materials libraries then are ‘discovered’ as much as ‘made’. Many institutions have historically held collections organized, intentionally or unintentionally, according to the kinds of substances they comprise. Clothing collections and museums comprise fabrics, sometimes according to type. Design and art exhibitions may be divided up into products of stone, ceramics or wood. Archaeology commonly works with categories of substance. Hence the Kew Gardens economic botany collection has only recently come to be seen as a ‘materials‘ library.
Materials can facilitate a consciousness of this engagement. As Oakley says of gold, ‘the interpenetration of what is thought and what is done became startlingly apparent as FT/FM gold was found to be excluded from large swathes of manufacturing practice’ (Oakley, this volume). One can consider knowing-as-making or making-as-knowing, but we would also emphasize that there is more to materials than this and rather focus on materials as problematizing ways of knowing. The problems of knowing are not necessarily the problems of praxis, because materials themselves do perform cultural kinds of work, and they are especially kinds of informational or knowledge work.