Theory as Object Session 2

This session was about questioning theories about objects, materials and materiality.
We learnt how you do not just understand theory for the sake of understanding it, you understand it for the sake of using it your practice. The way that you make visible unconscious structures is to compare and juxtapose conscious structures through discipline. We continued to examine how archaeology is methodology. Within archaeology we need to understand that there are different time periods and you can try to understand the time period but you can never fully understand it, there is an element of reconstruction. How much can you actually know of the past? You are looking at objects to associate them with people and historical societies.

Objects that seem to be related to each other, and then you bring them together you are forced to create a relationship between these objects and you begin to create stories, true or not. Archeology is about an observable past related to the observable present and bringing these together. The study of human past through material remains. It constructs accounts of the past based on physical data, unintentional by products of human activity are studied as well.

We moved on to look at the difference between archeology and history. History starts when there are written documents, anything beyond the written language is archeology. It is about creating a line that shows the singularity of events, all of the forces that mad that event happen. Trying to create a line that combines all of the elements that made that event happen. You need to understand the differences between ideas and what has changed, to see why a certain idea or a concept has emerged, why has an object come to be? Other elements inform ideas through interactions within the specific time within that specific culture. What is continuous throughout time as well.

Considering images of the family trees through history; the opposite to archeology where you reconstruct the object, here we need to reconstruct the remains and the history of the object. There are other histories beyond what you are looking at to understand something. There are multiple ways that something has become how it is, the possibilities are infinite.
Genealogy family trees started as an abstract representation of blood, but over time they have become more formal in a triangle form. Based around the most important person or blood (king or queen) followed by the descendants in a more orderly less abstract fashion. They were used to claim land. After they became a tree, there was a confusion about how a tree can represent blood as it flows down but the tree goes up, so the tree has to be upside down. Therefore the family tree looks more like roots. The tree becomes a symbol of process, to map how you have come to be as a person through ancestors, the tree grows back into the past. It conflicts the notion of what a tree is, as the leaves an flowers at the end of the branches are the last things to emerge, but in a family tree they are represented at the oldest history and the youngest is reflected at the base.

Whatever event in history it doesn’t have a single origin, there are multiple ways and reasons as to why the event has come to place. Genealogy allows you to trace these origin.

We then studied a text by Tim Ingold who is a Anthropologist who first studied natural science. He combines the notion of ecology and anthropology. In his text he is looking at combining disciplines and how they inform each other, and how this relationship is connected to the environment.

We used the following method when reading the text-

Identify where the introduction finishes

Identify where the conclusion starts

Identify the argument of the paper (within the conclusion and introduction)

Skim the rest of the text in the remaining time

Consider what could be the critics made to Ingold’s paper by his peers


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