Through the act of knotting, meaning was embedded in the physical material gradually transformed into an artifact, which in turn articulated this meaning through its physicality back to the maker (Nimkulrat, 2007b, pp. 17-24; Nimkulrat, 2009a, pp. 105-128). The maker’s experience and action to resolve creative pressures in the medium manifest the material object’s expressiveness (Dewey, 1934, pp. 60-69). The materialization of an object, i.e., craft making, can be considered the “subject-matter and sustainer of conscious activity” (Dewey, 1925, p. 393). Similarly, Merleau-Ponty (1962, pp. 365-378) points out that human perception and consciousness tends to seek association between the current tactile phenomenon and the prior one the touching person has experienced.


I am able to touch effectively only if the phenomenon finds an echo within me, if it accords with a certain nature of my consciousness, and if the organ which goes out to meet it is synchronized with it. The unity and identity of the tactile phenomenon do not come about through any synthesis of recognition in the concept, they are founded upon the unity and identity of the body as synergic totality. (Merleau-Ponty, 1962, p. 369)


According to the above statement, a tactile phenomenon concerns touching as physical contact. When one touches an object, the touch searches for a connection between the object touched and the consciousness of the person who touches it. In the Seeing Paper case, when handling a type of paper string, the author sought a connection between the material in her hands and her consciousness. Combined with the author’s prior life experience, the influence of each material’s physical qualities shaped the interpretation of the work. As a result, each work was given a title that reflected the author’s thought during the action-oriented experience of craft making. For example, the first type of paper string was employed to create Let Go and Private Garden (Figure 8). In the production of Let Go, hand knotting around the mold of the female body form was the only manipulation technique applied to the material. The strings were left unknotted on both arms of the unwearable dress. The action of letting the strings hung freely was interpreted as giving the material the freedom to speak. The interpretation of this action-oriented experience was reflected through the artifact’s name, Let Go. The author learned while making this work that the material was easily open, exposing the long strip of the raw material. When this material was used again to create Private Garden on a wire skeleton shaped into the form of a dress, it was untwisted to be even more open. The untwisted string appeared similar to the shape of a leaf. After manipulating the material at certain spots, the association of the open strings with leaves generated the idea of a garden. The pieced was then named Private Garden.


The same technique and process of making Let Go was applied to the second type of paper string (Figure 9), which was paper string untwisted from five-ply string. The messily tangled, curly material was easily broken if the pulling force was too strong. Frequently breaking strings interrupted the repetitive action of knotting the lacy structure around the mold. The interruption caused the maker to pay more attention to the material and to seek a way to fix the broken strings in order to continue making the artifact. “Reflection-in-action” came into play when the maker tried to understand the situation and to make a decision in the creative process. The messiness and fragility of the strings was controlled in the completed artifact that was then named Get Sorted. The disturbance caused by broken strings gave rise to the association between the broken strings and barbed wire the maker had experienced in life as her embodied memory. “For if a thing perceived were made up of sensations and memories, it would depend for its precise identification on the contribution of memories…”, says Merleau-Ponty (1962, p. 24). According to Heidegger (1962, pp. 406-412), when a tool or piece of equipment breaks and stops serving to support actions, its properties or characteristics become more salient than when it functions properly. Disturbance leads us to notice the aspects of the tool and turns it into an object to be thought about. In this case, the second type of paper string temporarily ceasing the knotting actions revealed its visual aspect as similar to barbed wire that was not earlier noticeable. This visual aspect illuminated an idea for the subsequent artifact that used the same material. When strings were knotted around the skeleton wire of the same shape as Private Garden, they were intentionally pulled so strong that they were broken. This artifact was later titled Private Area.

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