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Unfolding: A multisensorial dialogue in 'material time'

Blakey, S and Mitchell, L (2017) Unfolding: A multisensorial dialogue in 'material time'. Studies in Material Thinking, 17. ISSN 1177-6234


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This essay investigates the multisensorial encounter between people, things and place, through the analysis of a shared experience in a museum store room. In the to-and-fro of dialogue, its co-authors discuss the visceral bodily response both experienced in the simple act of unfolding a piece of cloth in the attic room of a house. Theories of emplacement, flow, resonance and intimacy are explored across the co-authors’ home disciplines of craft and making, material culture, history, pedagogy and museology, but are also followed into less familiar territory including biology and neuroscience. The essay makes the case for a particular quality of time and space, found by both authors in the maker’s workshop and the museum store; a quality they describe as ‘material time’. In ‘material time’, being slows down, the body takes over and boundaries between self and other begin to dissolve. As a maker-educator and curator-historian, both located within the art school, the co-authors consider the implications of these findings for learning and creative practice.

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