ceramics | activity book

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What you will find here is a compilation of the posts I made in the blog “archandphil.wordpress.com” during an autumn semester in the seminar “Material Assemblages and Affective Atmospheres” led by Hélène Frichot. The result of all these responses’ compilation is this activity book.

Text of ceramics | activity book

  • material assemblages & affective atmospheres

    architecture+philosophy activity bookby Anna Burgaya

  • table of contents


    material assemblages FIG.1 the ceramic brick wall FIG.2howtomakeaceramicfigure FIG.3 Ceramic, the substance and Tile, the form FIG.4 life of piggy

    affective atmospheres FIG.5 ceramics in my feet FIG.6 ceramical roof FIG.7 aggressive atmospheres on pottery









  • 2

  • introduction

    WhatyouwillfindhereisacompilationofthepostsImadeintheblog archandphil.wordpress.com during an autumn semester in the seminar Material Assemblages and Affective Atmospheres led by Hlne Frichot. The result of all these posts compilation is this acti-vity book.

    All the thoughts written down here relate the discussions in the semi-nar with one materiality: ceramics. In this way all the writings have a subject in common. I chose ceramics because it is a common-used material in the traditional architecture in the culture I come from. It has also a very moldable way of being produced so one can appreci-ate it in many different forms.

    Thebookhassevenchapters.Eachchapterincludesadrawing(fig-ure) and some text. They both are based on ceramics and the read-ings discussed in the seminar, mentioned in the bibliography. They deal with material-form and affective atmospheres concepts from a philosophical + architectural point of view. At the end of every text you willfindaproposedactivityrelatedwiththeaforementionedconceptsandthefigure.

    This is why I called this an activity book. Sometimes you will need to complete it; be as creative as you want. I hope you enjoy reading-thinking and doing it.



  • 4FIGURE 1

  • the ceramic brick wall

    orthographic drawing describes only form, and relegates material to the empty spaces between the linesKatie Lloyd Thomas, introduction in Material matters, page 1.

    Thisfirstreadingintroduceswithaconcept:hylomorphism,privilegingof form over material. Hylo as material and morph as form have an evident relation and they might be perceived equally and balanced. But hylomorphism tends to focus on the formal perception and so the matter gets degraded.

    Wearealsoinfluencedbyformsfirst,andhowthingslooklike.Weget thousands of images everyday, via media, friends, companies,... butitisdifficulttoseebeyondthem;thestoriesbehind,processes,their history of development. We set above our sight rather than the other senses. But sight is sometimes confusing.

    The architects are becoming images sellers. When they give too much importance to the drawing aesthetics, the building craft is negative-ly affected. To solve this, architects and builders need to cooperate, like the shape with the material and form with matter.

    And now the ceramics shows up... as a brick.

    Thearchitectdrawsawall.Shedrawsaroughsketchwiththefirstideas, dimensions, forms, shapes,... just lines. Oh! and it will be made out of ceramic bricks. She forgets about bricks materiality; its surface texture, its weigh, its origins, every piece has a different tone due to the process of manufacturing. An only brick has an appearance but a larger ammount of them, one piled above the other with cement inbe-tween, creates a totally different surface and effect on the wall.

    How should the builder pile the bricks then? Is it up to her knowledge and own decision? What if the drawn wall has some structural mis-takes? What tonality of color would she decide? A dialog is needed!

    ACTIVITY - FIGURE 1 [the brick wall]Can you draw the brick wall thinking about its materiality? Here is a clue: forget about the contour lines.


    material assemblages

  • 6FIGURE 2

  • howtomakeaceramicfigure

    We know nothing about a body until we know what it can doJane Benett, preface in Vibrant Matter, page 7.

    The Jane Benetts Preface in Vibrant Matters is an appeal to make the reader realize the vitality of matter and how lively powers of material formations can alter our moods and environments. But her goal is more ambitious; she defends that if we were more aware of an animate vibrant matter our modes of consumption and production would become more ecological and more materially sustainable.

    IcanrememberthefirsttimeIthoughtaboutmatterasananimatething. It happened during a physics lesson in the school. The teacher started enumerating the different states of the matter; solid, liquid, gas. This was nothing new to me but then he went further on, intro-ducing the term of atom and how it is directly related to the matters different states. Since that day when I try to understand the environ-ment and its matter it comes to my mind an amount of millions of particles. And depending on the matters state they appear: quiet and joint but in tension for solids, partly moving or vibrating for liquids, andseparated,flyingfreefillingtheatmosphereforgas.

    But somehow even before the atomic lesson I was aware of the vibrancy of matter when as a kid (and the high curiosity involved) I played with deformable materials, discovering different matters char-acteristics.

    And now the ceramics shows up... as a figure.

    Iusedtomodelfigureswithaplasticandresistantmaterial;clay.When I had the desired shape I put them in the oven and heated them until the clay became hard but fragile; the result was a ceramic figure.EventuallyonedayIthrewawaythefigureanditbroke;there-sultwasanamountofsmallceramicpiecesspreadonthefloor.Everyaction upon the material produced a visible change on it so I could in some manner perceive animation in matter.

    Because of the action-reaction principle everything is constantly changing and moving even though we dont notice. There are changes that happen too fast or too slow for us to be aware of them. For a dragonflythatlivesonedayhumansmightneverchange.Wedontsee a mountain changing its form because the process is too slow for our perception. The matter keeps changing and it is in movement.

    ACTIVITY - FIGURE 2 [threestatesofaceramicfigure;moldable,hardfragile, broken] Experience the vibrance in ceramics by making a clay figureyourself.Leaveitoutdoors.Observeitandnoticeitschangesday after day.


    material assemblages

  • 8FIGURE 3

  • Ceramic Tilethe substance the form

    there is something deeply wrong with this treatment of the micro and the macro as absolute scales. A more adequate approach would be to treat them as relative to a particular scale.Manuel DeLanda, Deleuze, Materialism and Politics, page 166

    In his Chapter 8 Deleuze, Materialism and Politics DeLanda intro-duces us some concepts related to materialism from Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari works. The process of double articulation, concern-ing the materiality (substances, territorialisation) and the expressivity (forms, coding) of a stratum. Although these concepts are different they are tightly linked and they affect each other in a reciprocal way.

    According to the writer all identities are historical and because of that they are changeable; he remarks its importance in the human poli-tics context and the possibility of social changes.

    Finally he names the term of spatial scales distinguishing between themolecularandthemolarlevelsasawaytodefinedifferentap-proaches to the identity properties. But most of the times the same body can be both a whole and a part of a whole. It depends on the point of view one is using.

    And now the ceramics shows up... as tiles.

    A Ceramic Tile consists of a certain amount of mineral materials, mainlyclay,andthesedefineitsphysicalproperties,whatitismadeof, its substance, Ceramics. Furthermore this matter has a shape, a form, we can percieve and sense its expressivity, the Tile.

    Ceramic is the Tile molecular scale. But the Ceramic Tile can be composingaground,thisgroundmaybedefiningabalconyareainanapartment,theapartmentisthefourthdwellinginafloor...Andyoucould keep going till... guess what?

    ACTIVITY - FIGURE 3 [On the left, the molecular scale of tile and molar scale of ceramical matter. On the right, the molecular scale of agroundfloorandthemolarscaleofabalcony]Canyouthinkaboutother examples of molecular and molar scales in objects/society/na-ture/...? Try to draw them in both scales.


    material assemblages

  • 10

    FIGURE 4

  • life of piggy

    That which matters about an object is its matter.Judith Butler, Bodies that matter, page 31.

    Judith Butler calls into question why materiality is meant to be a sign of irreducibility, why this exclusion?

    The association of feminity with materiality, matter with mater and matrix,suggeststheconceptofgenerationintheconfigurationofmatter. What matters about a body is its origins, how and why it mat-ters.

    In reproduction women may contribute the matter (hyle) and men the form (morpho). In architecture builders may contribute the hyle and architects the morpho.

    The Greek term Schema means the shape given by the stamp. How does one give schema to hyle?

    And now the ceramics shows up... as a piggy bank.

    Like the man in the Bible I was made out of clay. My creator gave me shape and life. But there was a reason. My mission was to save mon-ey, to store coins and notes for the creator. My looking was like a fat pig but my skin was ceramic and I had a slit in my back, big enough to let the largest coins get in. When I was a newborn I was empty inside, but then when I grew up day after day I was getting increasingly fuller. Finally one day I was so full that no coin was able to get stored in my stomach. The creator took me and threw me to the ground, breaking me into a thousand pieces and taking all the coins I had saved. Luck-ily