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Reconnecting the Corporeal
Laura Davidson|Catalogue Essay for From Centre (2015)
This essay first appeared in the From Centre catalogue for the exhibition jointly curated by Saturation Point Projects and Slate Projects.
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.
The initial survey of each video thumbnail describes a short video of a 'native' craftsperson in Guatemala or Peru, framed by the parameters of short duration and varied pixelation. Clicking on the top few search results, the videos all have a similar formula. The individual in each video is sitting, both hands active with wood and yarn, deftly weaving. Stretches of unfinished patterns of grids and abstract forms pull back to the weaver themselves. Backstrap weaving allows the body to maintain the tension of the fabric stretching out in front of the weaver, after the mind has authored the patternation. The corporeal centres the tension of the pattern; the programmed grid lines of weft and warp become an exploratory synchronicity of body and mind.
Backstrap weaving is historically rooted within the cultures of the Mayan civilisation, a people also known for their interest in mathematics and the sciences. ‘Weaving’ in the generic lends itself not just to a grid aesthetic, but also to the birth of computer programming. It is common to quote anecdotally that Ada Lovelace, the author of the first programme for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, drew on her knowledge of mathematics and the punch cards of the Jacquard loom to write her first algorithm. Weaving links computation back to craft, thought, surface, material, corporeality, the gesture; the mark.
In the gallery space names are attributed to works, which are then attributed to
the bodies that made them. Strong circuits of geometry undulate across the space,
exemplifying a quasi-
Robin Seir appears actively to want to subvert meticulous geometries by producing
them with sporadic blemishes on the surface. There is of course an apparent self-
There are, of course, mechanised processes within the work on display that contradict
this hypothesis; Rhys Coren, Tess Jaray and Guilia Ricci all use laser cutting to
create forms that appear hand-
There are oppositions set between human and machine, as if they are to ceaselessly
continue as Cartesian binaries. This type of opposition suggests that the digital
can only extend from machine practices. In fact, the etymology of ‘digital’ stems
from the Latin 'digitus' meaning finger or toe. Symbolically, the use of the word
is suggesting a performed interaction between the human body and its environment.
The digit, therefore, is a way the corporeal can immerse itself within the physical
environment in order to make sense of it; the fingers and toes provide an interface
for the brain. Digits were also used as early mathematical tools; for calculating
trades and time. The finger, the human hand and thus the gesture are apparent in
'From Centre', even if the output looks, and has been, mechanised. The indexical
processes seen throughout the work exhibited are in fact driven by the script of
the mind, for the body to execute. There grasps for meaning in the practices in From
Centre, which can appear machine-
1. See the OpenSource movement in software design or botnets, where a programme pulls in many computers on a network to carry out an attack on another system