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UAL Research Online

Thoughts and Utterances in Material Practice: Objects and Words / Thoughts and Actions

Tsutsumi, Maiko (2018) Thoughts and Utterances in Material Practice: Objects and Words / Thoughts and Actions. In: Utsuwa Utsumi, 4 May 2018, Chelsea College of Arts.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Tsutsumi, Maiko

This paper reports on an on-going research project that explores the role textual language plays within material-based practice, where skills and knowledge manifest largely through materials and actions. The research employs the perspective of a practitioner, who has trained in traditional craft practice where practical actions and material knowledge play predominant roles in the acquisition of skills and development of the work. The subject is explored through a curatorial project, as well as theoretical research, and references works in broader subject areas such as cognitive psychology.

The research stems from studies on materiality and its relationship to practical knowledge, which began with the curation of Thingness exhibition (2011 and a sequel in 2013), and other related events. Since then, the research has extended into the forms and nature of knowledge in material based-practice: embedded, tacit, and experiential.

The role of language in the development of material practice has caught my attention throughout my teaching career; for the past decade, I have supported designers and makers in the development of their professional practice. Many practitioners, who are primarily engaged in practical and material ‘language’, have an uneasy relationship with, or an aversion to, textual language, seeing it as antithetical to their practical work. On the contrary, language can be a useful tool for reflection and self-direction. However, the challenge is how to incorporate it into material practice where an advanced understanding of materials and processes enables creative thinking.

This challenge has brought me to the question of tools for conceptualization, for which language has often been regarded as the primary mode. However, as it is evidenced in studies in cognitive psychology, language is not the only tool for conceptualisation. I have long been interested in other possible modes of meaning production and transmission, other than through representation or codes.

This interest is informed by my experiences of working in the craft/design industry, as well as education, in both Japan and the UK. I understand that the culture of craft practice in Japan that I experienced reflects a form of tradition where knowledge, ideas, and information are often expressed and explored in non-verbal forms, most notably in the form of the arts (in actions, manners, and material things). However, in the Western tradition the nature of such knowledge has been underexplored, because of its lack of articulation and of vocabulary.

I propose that, by understanding the nature of the relationship between language, action, thought, and interaction with materials, we can better understand the nature of knowledge that is at work within material practice beyond cultural boundaries. In this context, textual language, material and actions are equally important as tools to facilitate the organisation of thoughts and conceptualisation.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Language, Material Practice, Curatorial Practice
Your affiliations with UAL: Other Affiliations > CCW Graduate School
Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: 4 May 2018
Related Websites: http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2018/5/4/-Utsuwa-Utsushi-symposium/
Related Websites:
Event Location: Chelsea College of Arts
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2019 16:11
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2019 16:11
Item ID: 13128
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/13128

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