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    A fluctuating, intermediate warp: a micro-ethnography and synthetic philosophy of fibre mathematics

    O'Brien, Kate C. (2023) A fluctuating, intermediate warp: a micro-ethnography and synthetic philosophy of fibre mathematics. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This project explores the inventive worlds of artists who engage with weaving technologies in the production of their work. It aims to understand the mathematical practices of these textile practitioners, without reifying or subsuming their work within a closed teleology. Side-lining approaches to both mathematics and artistic production that fetishize individual genius or the imposition of form on passive matter, I approach both artistic and mathematical activities as making practices. The project draws on the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon to (re)theorise the role of technique and technology in artistic and mathematical creation. This focus foregrounds fibres and looms, diagrams and models as participants in material modes of reasoning. Exploring how the practices of both novice and expert weavers exceed the sovereign subject in ways that open up mathematical and weaverly tools as experimental forms, the project uses a micro-ethnographic analysis to examine how materials, machines, and humans improvise “algorhythmically” – a concept developed to describe both the regulation and excess of creative processes. Three case studies explore how the loom serves as a generative form/ground for engagement with mathematico-weaverly problems. Placing these material experimentations in the context of historical encounters between disciplines, the dissertation attempts to give contours to an emergent field of fibre mathematics.

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