Collaborative Ecologies through Material Entanglements
Smitheram, M; Joseph, F
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This paper addresses aspects of collaboration and conceptual frameworks in practice that are central to our project, Phenomenal Dress. The research has been informed by material thinking, posthuman theory and New Zealand Māori perspectives, through processes of “making-with” (Haraway, 2016). Working with an ecosystem, engaging with localized non-human phenomena as well as cultural and scientific experts, mediated materials, textile surfaces as new forms of “dress-action” (Tiainen, Kontturi and Hongisto, 2015) have been developed through relational entanglement. The artefacts produced in the project are not functional or fashionable products, they are matter flows, formed through diverse perspectives and collaborative processes. They suggest a reconsideration of dress as material-aesthetic activations and pathway towards co-emergent understanding. Through this approach, the ecosystem is recognised as the primary collaborator, repositioning human and more-than-human relationships. This approach is informed by Māori knowledge and ways of knowing (mātauranga Māori), perspectives of kaitiakitanga (stewardship) and deeper relationship with the lifeworld through acts of sensing, noticing, making and following. The methodology is grounded in an ontological shift away from human-centredness, where matter and place have been positioned as object, to focus instead on matter as vital collaborator and place as habitat where the interconnections between things can be expressed.