Enfolding – The Poetic Fiber

March 15, 2013

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The poetics of fiber (fabric, paper, felt, wool, fleece, etc.) contains folds, which can metaphorically link to physical and psychological dimensions of space.

What if the poetics of cloth were composed of ‘soft logics’, modes of thought that twist and turn and stretch and fold? And in this movement new encounters were made, beyond the constraint of binaries? The binary offers two possibilities, either/or; soft logics offers multiple possibilities. They are the realm of the and/and, where anything can happen…Soft logics are to think without excluding…And if soft suggests an elastic surface, a tensile quality that yields to pressure this is not a weakness; for ‘an object that gives in is actually stronger than one that resists, because it also permits the opportunity to be oneself in a new way’ (Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader and Max Kozloff, “The Poetics of Softness” in Remderings, Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art).

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Philosopher Gilles Deleuze believed that the concept of the fold was an image of the mental and physical landscape. The fold is not unlike exercising the brain to perceive differently; it is experimental thinking, a creative activity that is triggered by a new encounter or conditions that are unfamiliar. The fold is tactile, embodied and sensuous. It is not an interpretation, but a response, a feeling of being ‘touched’ in a unfamiliar way. The caress of an unexpected happening can inspire and rejuvenate. The poetic fiber stretches out, enfolding a new set of experiences. The mental and physical sensation of being stretched (unfolded and unformed) through new ideas, new people, new places, and spontaneous activities exercises both mind and body to be more flexible.

The smooth space of experimentation, where ideas and body may flow is not unlike felt.

Because it is made by rolling fibers back and forth until they enmesh, felt can potentially extend in all directions, without limit, entangled in a continuous variation – a fabric, at least in principle without top, bottom or centre (Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth” in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader.

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Felt is a metaphor for extended space, an enmeshment of influences that shape our character and actions. The friction needed to produce felt, is indicative of the effort and force needed to create the material of our lives. Rather than uniformity, felt is entanglement. It also reflects the transformation of one reality into another, as loose fleece becomes a strong cloth through concentrated action.

References

Pennina Barnett, “Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth” in Jessica Hemmings (editor) The Textile Reader

Max Kozloff, “The Poetics of Softness” in Renderings, Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art

Photos

Crocheted Seed Sculptures, Suspended by the Grand Canal, Dublin

Sheep’s Fleece from Finland, Sculpted in a Washing Machine, Ireland

 

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