Writing alongside the exhibition Feeling Material, October-November 2015, c3 Contemporary Art Space
• Matter and discussion are forces that can be perceived together and apart.
• It can be pleasurable when these two seemingly separate forces move closely.
• Perhaps this is because material and discussion may inevitably unfold inseparably for us.
• This isn’t to say that there is any less joy when/where discussion gets carried away from the matter at hand or where/when matter moves on from the discussion at play.
• Attending to these precise notes of difference between material and discussion could be one mode of working.
• When operating in this fashion, there might be an open kind of preference for what the material is doing or what we’re “saying” it’s doing by our perceptions, suggestions, movements, and other dynamic involvements.
• A closer (e.g. material-discursive) way of working might be a situation where possibilities are enabled and constrained as a living field of forces, where continuing movements are accommodated, according to and in response to their environment and constituents.
• During 2013 the term feeling material emerged in the process of writing.
• At the time, this term offered my own practice a strong stitch between dominantly separate concepts: matter and life.
• Unpacking these two words (feeling, material) kneaded clarity into certain aspects of my practice, namely: that matter is a verb in every way, and that “we” are participating as material within the work of art (the work of mattering). As “we” are often changed by that participation, I need to include the “”.
• Suddenly in 2015, with this exhibition titled Feeling Material, I find myself questioning whether these two words, clinging together, make any sense (or do any work) at all.
• It may be that such a term could become an unmoving stand-in or glaze over the top of a vital shift; i.e. working with matter and discussion closely together.
• Feeling Material may be a decapitated heading for the material-discursive forces at work in this show. Is the heading at work here? Is it relating to the other styles of work in this show?
• Matter asserts that it is not a passive surface for meaning, requiring any kind of discussion to disavow its position as sole meaning-maker.
• By engaging with matter as dynamic, the life of participating in discussion is also invigorated. In the work of moving closely, material and discussion can shift into interchangeable forces that are alert in a process of living out what matters.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).
Karen Barad, “On Touching – The Inhuman That Therefore I Am.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 23, no. 3 (2012): 206-223.
Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt, Carnal Knowledge: Towards a New Materialism through the Arts, IB Taurus, 2012.
Andrew Benjamin, “Endless Touching: Herder and Sculpture.” Aisthesis 3, no. 1 (2011): 73-92.
Terri Bird, “Figuring Materiality.” Angelaki 16, no. 1 (2011): 5-15.
Iris van der Tuin and Rick Dolphijn. New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, An imprint of MPublishing, University of Michigan Library: Open Humanities Press, 2012.
1 Barad, Karen “On Touching – The Inhuman That Therefore I Am.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 23, no. 3 (2012): 206-223.
These can become interchangeable notions; if matter is understood as the congealing of agency (Barad), and discussion as a range of forces – such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, moving, rearranging, touching – that enable and constrain possibilities.
2 van der Tuin, Iris and Rick Dolphijn. New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies, An imprint of MPublishing, University of Michigan Library: Open Humanities Press, 2012, 91-92.
3 A research paper called Feeling Material for the AAANZ Conference Panel: The New Materialism, in and through Sculpture and Spatial Practice, convened by Barbara Bolt, December 2013.
4 Grosz, Elizabeth, Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art, Durham NC, USA: Duke University Press, 2011, pp. 27. ‘… life as a kind of contained dynamism, a dynamism within a porous boundary, that feeds from and returns to the chaos which surrounds it something immanent within the chaotic whole: life as a complex fold of the chemical and the physical that reveals something not given within them, something new, an emergence, the ordered force of invention.”
5 Example unpacking: feeling material, feeling consequential, feeling material, belonging, vibrant matter (Jane Bennett), ‘matter […] as process’ (Judith Butler), matter as a congealing of agency, (Karen Barad) of ‘response-ability’ (Barad), as mattering, (Andrew Benjamin) ‘where matter is understood as always already the site of its own animation’ (Benjamin).