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Title: Making with spider silk : the entangled processes of human and nonhuman animals
Author: Morgan, E.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This research examines the history of human uses of spider silk to reassess the relationship between 'natural' and 'artificial' processes of making. It is guided by two questions: (1) How do forms and materials made by nonhuman animals affect human making? and (2) How are the properties of materials differently perceived and used by humans? My aim is to examine making as a process across species. This research makes an original contribution to knowledge in two specific areas. Firstly, in my art practice I have worked with spiders and spider silk to empirically examine historical claims and descriptions, and to create new sites of human/spider making through performances, sound recordings and videos. The second contribution has been my use of interviews and personal correspondence, which has revealed information on the uses of spider silk that did not exist in the current literature. This enriches our understanding of these techniques and highlights instances of human and spider engagement. The thesis is divided into five uses of spider silk: lining, weaving, layering, vibrating and mimicking. The research is interdisciplinary, drawing from entomology, anthropology, art history, cultural theory and my own artistic practice. Through these investigations, I argue that the making of objects cannot be fully understood through either a focus on human intention (pre-conceived idea of an object) or what the properties of the material allows. Rather, in response to recent attempts to move towards a non-anthropocentric approach to materials, the thesis argues that attention should also be given to the action of nonhuman animals in processes of making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available