Bodies that Work Matter


Practice-led research


In a recent critique of the New Materialist discourse anthropologist Tim Ingold (2014) raised concerns regarding the lack of life, growth and movement in the approach. Instead, Ingold encouraged researchers to explore the “variable dynamics of ontogenesis”, that is to say: the work that brings things into being (2014: 234).

Inspired by Karen Barad’s (2003, 2007) concept of ‘phenomena’ and Ingold’s (2013) focus on work, Govier's piece 'Bodies that Work Matter' (2016) captured the human-artist working a large lump of malleable matter (2 kg of pink play dough). Through the piece Govier interrogated theoretical approaches to human-material interactions such as Malfouris’ (2014) hylonoetic space, Ingold’s (2013) morphogenetic approach and Barad’s (2003) intra-actions. This practice-led research offered a moment to consider time as a ‘doing’ and highlighted some of the issues that emerge when analysts attempt to ‘see time’ in the material residues of life.

Govier, E. (forthcoming). 'Doing Time: Ontogenesis, Causality, and the Life-Matter Predicament'.