Art/Writing InTheory Uncategorized

Edible Matter

Edible MAtter

Food is a co-participant in our world.
Jane Bennett argues for the political recognition of things, both human and non-human. In acknowledging the Thing Power of food, the fluid nature of materiality comes to light.
You are what you eat.
In eating, the border between out and in is mixed. You aren’t what you eat. Well you are, but what you eat is you also. And together that is a thing too.
You are an assemblage of matter and everything is always Becoming; nothing is Being.

Nietzsche tried to tell me I’d be depressed without fish.
But Thoreau jumped in, “I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined
to abstain from animal food”.

Later that day I googled a guacamole recipe on BBC Food and went to Asda to pick up Artichoke Hearts, with the intention to preserve and progress some creative faculties.
They led me to the fish aisle.
I got depressed and could not preserve.


Two Quotes

Google on Vibrant Matter
In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces.


Kate Nash on Vibrant Matter
All the stars up in the sky
And the leaves in the trees
All the broken bits that make you jump up
And grassy bits in between
All the matter in the world is how much that I like you.
Right, birds can fly so high
And they can shit on your head
They can almost fly into your eye
And make you feel so scared.
But when you look at them
And you see that they’re beautiful
That’s how I feel about you

Interests InTheory Material Cultures MFA Study

People/Things. (?!)

I’m thinking about objects. As I often do.
Igor Kopytoff’s explanation of commodization has provided a refresher on The Social Life of Things.

Kopytoff articulates the concept of exchange spheres comparing the often non-monetized trade of African tribes with Western consumerism. He describes objects as culturally constructed entities, endowed with meaning and classified into value-categories.
The object can be commoditized, decommoditized and then, yes, recommoditized (that’s when my notes get messy). The text is very clear though and uses a lot of examples which is useful when trying to grasp a concept, such as this, which can become so circular. Examples of slavery are used, and the stigma against abortion, to demonstrate social commoditization and how a person can become a commodity.

The thingness of a person leads me to questioning the personhood of a thing. 

Vital materialism is described by Jane Bennett as the capacity of the commodity to not only impede the will of humans, but to act with trajectories and tendencies of their own. Her writings on the Force of Things surpass Kopytoffs reasoned argument that objects have a social history and are impacted/impacting culture. She talks of the active powers issuing from nonhuman things and creates a vivid picture of an energised objecthood.

I’m still coming to terms with it. Upon first reading I found if difficult to move away from out-there notions and silly literal depictions. My previous writings on the supposed ordinary objects ability to be seen as an artwork have been largely centred on the white cube and contextualisation. I have largely ignored the audience in my research and must now turn attention to the object itself and this circular relationship between people and things.

As a sentimentalist, I am a believer that we bestow value and significance onto the ordinary. But that is perhaps too simplistic. I need to consider vital materialism and the draw of the object itself. Why do things affect us and where does the personhood of the object begin?

It usually ends up in a ramble or word jumble. So lets try and straighten this out a little this semester.
Does an object have agency?