Artisanal Engines and Virtual Surfaces
This paper considers two objects and the machines that made them: a cloth by Max Mosscrop, which was woven on a loom made by the artist, part of the series Journal (2016); and a Brazilian rosewood dish by David Pye (1980), which was made on a machine of his invention called a Fluting Engine. Mosscrop became interested in woven material because weaving enables the artist to create an expressive surface with no priority between image and support. He chose to make his own loom because this offered him the fullest way of understanding the process. David Pye invented his Fluting Engine sometime in 1949 or 1950. The contribution of this unique invention is that the tool marks radiate from the centre of the bowl. This is in contrast to lathe work where the marks follow the axis of rotation. This paper draws on Pye’s theoretical work on craft and design (1964, 1968). Pye was unusually sensitive to the interdependence of objects and the systems within which they are made and in which they operate. The loom and the Fluting Engine can be understood as systems for the regulation and expression of information. These ideas are latent in Pye’s own studio work, and are explicitly addressed in Mosscrop’s series Journal. In the same way as a punch card encodes the design followed by a Jacquard loom, there is a correspondence between a pattern in a cloth and a binary sequence of 0s and 1s: information can be expressed in multiple forms. This might seem to prioritise intention over realisation, or content over form. However, drawing on Gilbert Simondon’s theory of transduction (1958/1992), and through careful analysis of what actually happens in the making process, this paper demonstrates that weaving and fluting have a self-structuring logic. Close attention to these processes reveals that there is a connection between predetermined information and the contingent and progressive realisation of this information in a material such as wood and thread. This paper shows that in the case of weaving of fluting, matter and information are not oppositional terms. Following Simondon, the bowl and the cloth are best understood as singular crystallisations of a vast and latent potential with which they remain continuous. This is capable of apprehension by the viewer as virtual content, accessible from the surface of these contingent objects.
A paper presented at "Apparition: the (im)materiality of modern surface: An interdisciplinary symposium", at Leicester Castel Business School, De Montfort Univesity, Leicester, 9th March 2018; convened by Design Cultures (De Montfort University) and Fashion Research Network. www.apparitiondcfrn.com
Citation : Carpenter, B. and Mosscrop, M. (2018) Artisanal Engines and Virtual Surfaces. Apparition: the (im)materiality of modern surface / An interdisciplinary symposium. DMU Leicester, 9th March 2018
Research Group : Fine Art Practices
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Arts