Dust Things

Continuing from Lispector’s thoughts of dust as the ‘daughter of things’. Dust is the final expression of a thing – it is all it finally is / becomes.

Dust is a thing fully deteritorialised – it is still the elements of the thing but they are now distributed over time and space differently than before.

In covering things dust signals a thing at rest – dust is a signal, in states of vibration below human hearing threshold dust becomes the sound.

Clarice Lispector

‘She missed the roses.They had left an empty space inside her. Remove an object from a clean table and by the cleaner patch that remains you see that there was dust all around it. The roses has left a patch without dust and without sleep inside her.’

(Clarice Lispector, Family Ties)

Dust is ‘a filha das coisas’ (‘the daughter of things’)

(Clarice Lispector, Um Sopro de Vida)

Transmission+Interference: DUST

‘APEIRON […] a shapeless, formless, limitless mass from which everything more specific emerges’ (Harman, G. 2018)

Some thoughts from transmission+interference: dust workshop at ISEA2019 Gwangju, South Korea… Thanks to Eric Patten, Nicky Assmann, Josh Gumiela, Andrew Brown, Pa Yeon Yang, Sagar Patel.

Sprinkling of dust: shake and distribute with vibration

Fans to shape, move, blow dust particles. Blow dust up and leave to fall back down with gravity. Fine, light particles that float in air.

Time: the gradual build up of dust over long periods of time. Where does it collect? How could we experience this?

Dust – moisture – dirt: particles slowly descending, floating in liquid.

Space dust / smart dust…

Communities of dust

‘what matters it, my fairest and my best,

That we hg down unhonored and forgotten

Into the dust, -so we descend together?

Descend together, and then-and then perchance-‘

(Edgar Allan Poe)

Freedom from identity +

Equality in entropy and decay =

Dusty fraternity.


Communities  rise up from the materiality of dust.


Domain Shifts

‘Domain shift’ – a phrase coined by Richard Sennett in ‘The Craftsman’ is useful to explain the the movement of skills and ideas within a workshop environment. Sennett uses it to explain how a tool designed for one purpose becomes used for another – a form of appropriation and certainly seems linked to the practices of making, breaking and hacking in the field of contemporary technological arts. The domain shift also enables the movement of knowledge to cross borders (Sennett describes geographical / political domains here) and I would think that the switch from one use to another is precisely how something shifts across borders. Different cultures re-shaping the tools experienced elsewhere to fit their needs. How does the border of the domain shift become experienced across the small, localised space of the workshop? Within these spaces objects and materials are bent and appropriated to alternative needs suggested by participants and materials themselves. The impact from the form of one object or thing being shifted in its domain to act differently knocks on to the neighbouring objects and things. This resonance throughout the workshop is made of domain shifts and as the workshop physically and mentally adjusts to accommodate appropriated materials.

Collective Agency

The workshop is an assemblage of different carriers of information and knowledge. If the ‘master’ of the workshop is removed from the hierarchy of the workshop, how do we access the starting point or identify the aims of the workshop? Can noise be an effective method to expose an area to follow in a workshop? The clash of information from each carrier in the workshop links or rejects or folds into each other to develop points of interest – peak areas where knowledge is enhanced and increased from the multiple inputs or troughs of knowledge where there are gaps, spaces of lack of knowledge. This is built from the participants and the materials in the workshop and forms a collective agency in the workshop. This would not exist without the combination of people, objects and information and through that, a workshop is then a great method for moving through areas of difficulty in learning and helping to find point of collective interest. Through Bennett’s Vibrant Materialism and Harman’s OOO we are aware of the agency in things but this is not just then between things. Things have agency with humans and vice versa – a collective agency realising the potential in all information carriers within the workshop space.

Workshop Flows

Territorial, deterritorialisation, reterritorialisation, striated space, displacement, planes… Deleuze and Guattari and workshop spaces. The movement of information across the workshop, the chaos, the organisation, the flows, the resonance, the dissonance. How are territories defined in workshops? How is knowledge territorialized within objects, materials and humans? What are the carriers of information across a workshop? Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Cartographies and D&G’s The Refrain. Influenced by Guattari’s diagrams, it would be interesting to draw out the flows of information across a workshop – the directions, the loops, the levels / layers, the nodes – the structure of a workshop. Specific to a workshop of noise where it is likely to involve less linear flows towards a final, realised product. The point of interest / knowledge would be embedded, knotted in the tangled structure with possible connections to all other areas of the workshop – rhizome-esque connections. Just as noise is nomadic across the tools of performance within the workshop – knowledge is too spread across the workshop at its own speed, creating its own paths and dealing with interferences throughout. Time to explore the space of the workshop – as striated or smooth – the plateau. Back to the original aims at the start of the research investigating the topology of workshop flows.

Collaboration – D.I.W.O?

D.I.Y, D.I.W.O, D.I.T – essential methodologies for considering when developing the workshops. How does D.I.W.O share space with collaboration? Is doing something with a group of others a collaboration or is it something else? With a focus on the importance of objects and materials what is the limit of ‘others’? When we engage with objects at a level of vibrancy then they are equally, if not more, as important to the mix of skills, ideas, techniques. The objects are as much part of the noise in the workshop than the ‘other’ participants. They disturb and create ruptures in the flow of knowledge by offering certain usage and challenge the users to re-think their use. These ruptures are developed through necessity of knowing how they should work – levels of knowledge are required in order to power a DC motor and we can learn about that object once we can use it. The error of attaching a power source the wrong way around delivers new knowledge about the way a DC motor functions. This can then be applied to further workshops but the initial error emerges through noise in the workshop. Are we then in collaboration with a DC motor, a battery, some wire and other workshop participants?


Workshops… how do we move away from the clinical and repetitive working methods of Fordist production lines? By clearly messing with order, how can we still learn and teach via workshops? How do we move away from the master of the workshop? Is it useful to move away from this position? Auctoritas – the Latin word for someone who inspires fear and awe and, therefore, submission. The original workshop owner (Medieval) would command this position – one of authority in order to control the workshop space and the workers within. A position of hierarchy, an established structure. How can we move to a workshop space of noise and chaos? Introduce a heterarchichal structure, flatten the approach to new knowledge. Hannah Arendt introduces the concept of natality as a point where acting together can produce the unexpected. Is there still a sense of community around workshops and participants as we shape the ground in which the work takes place to develop more noisy approaches and attempt to become more heterarchical? What are the political implications of the modern, noisy, chaotic workshop? Are there roots within the open source community? How is the knowledge disseminated? How is the knowledge archived / is it important to archive this knowledge? Is there a power in the ephemeral workshop (pop-up) that leaves no trace? Ephemeral / Ethereal Workshops.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑