Walking Threads (WT) is an ongoing project that utilizes and investigates threads as things to ‘think with’.
The scope, methods and goals of this project hinge on open-ended explorations of threads in relation to place and space with human and non-human beings. WT works from two existing discourses, that of lines and the linear and that of the relation between the human and non-human. We have been particularly influenced by the works of Gilles Deleuze and Tim Ingold in their study of relations between bodies, materials and the environment. At the core of our project is the relationship between threads and thinking:
Threads: The kind you use to sew or embroider. But also other things which could be understood to function in a similar way by such characteristics as being flexible and able to be pulled tight or to drop loosely. In this understanding we may include but seek to move beyond purely metaphorical uses of threads in favor of the ways in which threads appear – as forms, patterns, or paths – and affect – both tangibly and intangibly.
Thinking: A dynamic and emergent process by which the new is created, simultaneously and inseparably in its arrangements of bodies, its expressive differentiation, and its relationships of speeds and slowness. Following Deleuze, we reject representational images of thought by which we might reflect with good will and stable subjectivity on our embodied actions with threads. Instead, we look for ways in which the thread can act as a differentiator, un-grounding the intensive structure of the world we find and opening new lines of flight and avenues of becoming. In this way, our thinking emerges from the simultaneous tension between action and reflection and between optical viewing and haptic involvement. We ‘think with’ threads within the context of a de-centered, ecological becoming which seeks to produce attentive and ethical ways of life.
By thinking with threads, WT explores moving, awareness and places.
Moving: WT explores the way threads highlight, originate, contain, and limit the moving which happens within and around us. Threads might simplify a set of relations, condensing them into a specific pull; they might establish a relationship where there was none. They materialise relations into a specific form. Threads illuminate certain movements from the ongoing of life. Threads also trace the movement by which they were made. The quality of that movement is contained in their structure (the fibres). WT explores the way the regular and continuous nature of thread’s micro-structure gives it capacity to affect.
Awareness: WT generates shifts between the states of reflecting and being/doing. We explore the tension between these two states or modes of awareness in action. At times we are completely absorbed, sometimes we are aware and reflective, and at times the categories collapse into an absorbed state of reflexivity. WT can be like sailing: at times you are just being immersed in doing; at times contemplating what is happening; at times these two modes happen at once.
Places: WT experiments with threads in places and plays with the textile fabric of the world. Threads intersect in and with the world. A tangle emerges encompassing bodies, things, materials and elements; catching each other’s vectors, forces and intensities. The place is animated with shifting shapes and forms, a continuous becoming-with. In this way WT also creates places, accumulating architectures of the ephemeral which can inspire and reconfigure our moving and awareness.
A temporary list of materials for a WT ephemeral architecture:
wind, soil, dust, sky, leaves, whispers, twigs, hair, breaths, algae, words, sun-light, clothes, laughter, mud, dirt, organic and inorganic wastes, sunshine, feathers, doubts, songs, shoes, bodies … and of course threads. We particularly like big skeins of golden thread.