Textiles, Technology and Design 3000 years ago
Lecture by Karina Grömer within the Lecture Series at the Institute for Art and Architecture, WS 2023/24
Curated by Michelle Howard, Adam Hudec, Veronika Miskovicova and Eva Sommeregger in collaboration with the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.
Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Karina Grömer is the director of the Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna. As an archaeologist, she studies the material culture of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age in Central Europe, including theoretical aspects like identity, innovation and creativity, functional design theory, visual coding, design concepts, sociological and semiotic studies. Her focus research embraces textile analysis, research on textile tools and reconstruction of prehistoric costume.
The cultural and historical importance of textile technology, especially of spinning and weaving, can hardly be overstated. Textile crafts not only produced essential goods for everyday use, most notably clothing, but also utilitarian objects as well as representative and luxury items. Even after wear and tear, the ‘resource textile’ – produced with a great amount of time and effort – was handled thoughtfully.
YEAH, BUT IS IT TECHNOLOGY? Yes of Course! asks what direction would technology have taken if skills that are normally attributed to women and other anomalies were given the attention they deserve, and proposes that by embracing the practical application of lines and threads we can build a richer and more sustainable future. Scientists now accept that humankind’s first tool was not a weapon but a carrier bag, that humans tended toward sociable collectives rather than submission to hierarchy, that whole social systems were adopted or discarded according to need. These facts are now recognised because evidence long existing has been reevaluated in less biased ways. The evidence was not difficult to find, it was just ignored. Patriarchal biases have labelled one practice technology and the other craft. Both are dependent on the practical application of knowledge, yet one attracts prestige, income, and a taste of progress while the other is deemed pretty but also pretty useless. Could an embracing of ignored technologies lead to a regenerative practice that drives environmental and societal progress? Of course it could!