Follow the materials, learn the movements, and draw the lines, says social anthropologist Tim Ingold in this 2011 talk. Drawing from his own research, he speaks about developing an approach to creativity and perception which ‘brings together the movements of making, observing and describing’, allowing us to describe things in a way that ‘joins with them.’ Second, he calls for turning our focus from the ready-made object onto the circulation of materials – which might help us to separate the notions of creativity and innovation. Third, he invites us to explore the generative dynamics of skilled practice which, because they are very precise, mean that the dancer – or craftsperson – responds to ‘moment by moment variations’ in their practice space, leading him to propose creativity as ‘improvisation, not innovation’. Finally, he suggests that drawing practice can be a link between observation and improvisation, an inscriptive practice in itself. Can we see the world as a ‘meshwork’ of interconnected pathways and crossings, rather than a ‘network’ of connected objects, in which the body is not a package, but a centre from which we move out into the world?
This talk was part of Crossing Borders 2011, presented in partnership with London Contemporary Dance School and the PAL Movement and Meaning series.
Professor Tim Ingold is Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He is a fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Taking an unconventional approach to anthropology he is looking at ways of bringing it together with architecture, archaeology and art and their mutually enhancing ways of engaging with our surroundings.
Adapted from bio published in 2011