Voice of Material in Transforming Meaning of Artefacts

Author: Nithikul Nimkulrat

peer-reviewer conference paper, 2012

When practitioners adopt craft as the major diligence of their creative practice, they naturally create work for not only the design context but also the art one. The nature of craft that involves direct experience, personal vision and mastery of a medium retains ‘material-based’ fields of practice, such as ceramics and textiles, for which practitioners tend to create both functional and aesthetic artefacts. Textile practitioners recognise the importance of material as the fundamental element for constructing visual, physical artefacts. However, the written accounts of the meaning of material in shaping the artistic process is barely contemplated and reflected.

This paper looks at craft as a personal experiential process for creating textiles and unfolds how a material can construct the tangibility of artefacts and simultaneously generate particular meanings to them. It is based on my published PhD thesis that examines the relationship between material and artistic expression in the creation of textiles. My textile practice was included in the research process to examine this relationship. In this paper, specific productions and exhibitions are scrutinised in order to exemplify how a material can transform the meaning of artefacts.

The main finding of this research is a concept called ‘materialness’. The concept shows that a material can lead not only a craft making process, but also the process of viewing completed artefacts. Materialness is the totality of the textile creation rooted in a material that includes the elements of form, content, context and time for the artefact. This concept is experiential knowledge that is made explicit because of the practice-led research approach and careful documentation. The inclusion of practice in the research process facilitates the communication of the tacit part of experiential knowledge, so that the meaning of material in textile creation can be articulated.

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Suggested Citation: Nimkulrat, N. (2012). Voice of Material in Transforming Meaning of Artefacts. In Proceedings of Design Research Society Conference (DRS2012) (pp. 1367-1380). Bangkok, Thailand: Chulalongkorn University.