The Loaf and the Laptop
Lecture by Tim Ingold 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.
Timothy Ingold, one of the most renowned voices in contemporary anthropology, and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. In his recent work, he links the themes of environmental perception and skilled practice, replacing traditional models of genetic and cultural transmission, with a relational approach focusing on the growth of embodied skills of perception and action within social and environmental contexts of human development. This has taken him to examining the use of lines in culture, and the relationship between anthropology, architecture, art and design. Writing within the anthropological realm of phenomenology, Ingold explores the human as an organism which 'feels' its way through the world that "is itself in motion"; constantly creating and being changed by spaces and places as they are encountered.
Through a reconsideration of toolmaking and speech as criteria of human distinctiveness, Ingold became interested in the connection, in human evolution, between language and technology. With Kathleen Gibson, he organised an international conference on this theme in 1990, and the resulting volume, edited by Gibson and Ingold (Tools, language and cognition in human evolution), was published in 1993. Since then, Ingold has sought ways of bringing together the anthropologies of technology and art, leading to his current view of the centrality of skilled practice.
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!