Event Date: 3 October 2011
Stevenson Lecture Theatre Clore Education Centre, British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Royal Anthropological Institute , London
THE CURL LECTURE 2011
Dr Graeme Were (Lecturer in Museum Studies, University of Queensland)
“On the Materials of Mats: thinking through design in a Pacific society”
This paper examines the selective use of plant materials in design in the Pacific. It explores – through an analysis of pandanus leaf mats in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea – how makers select fibres on the basis of their capacity to articulate social relations to varying temporalities before their natural decay. J. J. Gibson’s theory of affordance and Donald Norman’s concept of mapping are critically applied for this purpose. This approach emphasizes how social and temporal relations are condensed into objects, refocusing anthropological attention towards the design process as the dynamic locus of agency [entangled in both cultural and natural processes], rather than on objects as stable entities.
Introduction by Professor Roy Ellen .