T1-E1:P1-p1-s2 Developing source material – themes

Stage 2 is around development – identifying interesting aspects of my source material, inserting some of my own ideas.

I started, as suggested, with a brainstorm and mind map. The little sketches and changes of colour are part of trying to put myself off balance, to move away from words a bit.
Three potential themes particularly attract me.

Duality vessel Matlatzinca, 1250-1521 Fired clay, pigment Aztec exhibition, Australian Museum

Duality vessel
Matlatzinca, 1250-1521
Fired clay, pigment
Aztec exhibition, Australian Museum

Duality was a key element in Aztec thought. This vessel shows a warrior, healthy and sick, alive and dead, possibly a victim of sacrifice.
Most of the Aztec gods had both male and female forms. The bones of death were the seeds of life. There was light and dark, order and chaos, dry and wet, active and passive… They divide, complement, complete. They are parts of the same process, a cycle. I think it’s more complex than black and white – there is ambiguity.
sketch_20141205cExperimentation in my sketchbook was based on a mask held at the British Museum. Creating one mask left remnants that suggested another – the complement. More detail is on the research page (click here).
A Journey
A number of the codices follow the journey of the Aztec people, including the Codex Azcatitlan.

I love the symbolic elements, the presentation of movement in space and time, in the case of the Codex Azcatitlan that there is already a kind of cultural fusion in the sporadic use of western conventions such as aerial perspective. I’ve found myself thinking about what journey I could present, of formats such as a bound book or a long concertina fold (elements of connections through space, folding of time and place???).

During Stage 1 I didn’t have time to write about Federico Navarrete’s 2004 paper The hidden codes of the Codex Azcatitlan, but that’s relevant. I’ve tripped over some other sources of ideas recently too:

  • the Bayeaux Tapestry
  • Grayson Perry’s All in the best possible taste (for example, see http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jun/19/best-possible-taste-grayson-perry
    , which could be seen as a journey through the class structure of Britain – an overview, or an individual’s path
  • An exercise in a book I’m currently reading, Kim Thittichai’s Experimental textiles
  • A possible use of techniques from the class with Alex Falkiner (see 21-Nov-2014)
  • I especially like the footprints, and I know I’ve got some photographs stashed of tracks and footprints in different places.

    This is more a grab-bag of ideas.

  • The emperors’ cloak (see 17-Nov-2014). This could be the textile itself, or the way we display status using clothing.
  • Cloth as a form of currency (see 25-Nov-2014). It was so valuable, required as tribute, gifted as reward (and to confirm allegiance), requiring the industry of many women… There could be an interesting contrast to our modern culture, where clothes are cheap, fashions change, discarded clothing is shipped around the world. It could go even further into our footprint on the world – see for example Martin Medina’s 2014 article The Aztecs of Mexico: a zero waste society. However I think this idea would suit a written assignment better.
  • Spinning and weaving as an activity for everyone. This one’s a bit fuzzy, but for a “product” I’d love to come up with some kind of kit that could bring creating textiles into anyone’s life. It doesn’t really fit the brief, but I find it wonderful to think of a society where spinners and weavers are accorded such status.
  • Codex Mendoza Folio 61 r (detail)

    Codex Mendoza
    Folio 61 r (detail)

    The mat of power. Often a person of authority is shown sitting on a woven mat. They speak, command – others listen. Again, I haven’t thought this through, but it feels as if it could go somewhere interesting.
  • I haven’t included any idea based on the bright colours and jazzy lines that I associate with “aztec” design. I just haven’t found them in my source material, or only in limited and muted ways which seem common to many other cultures as well. Even so, I think my next step will be to explore the fabric stash, grabbing out anything which catches my eye as having potential.

    Codex Azcatítlan (1501 – 1600) [online] Available from http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84582686.r=Codex+Azcat%C3%ADtlan.langEN (Accessed 19-Nov-2014)

    Codex Mendoza (1541 – 1542 ?) [online] Available from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Codex_Mendoza

    Maffie, J. ([n.d.]) Aztec Philosophy Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy [online] Available from http://www.iep.utm.edu/aztec/ (Accessed 6-Dec-2014)

    Medina, M. (2014) “The Aztecs of Mexico: a zero waste society” In Our World web magazine United Nations University [online] Available from http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/the-aztecs-of-mexico-a-zero-waste-society (Accessed 6-Nov-2014)

    Navarrete, F. (2004) “The hidden codes of the Codex Azcatitlan” In Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 45 (Spring, 2004)[online] Available from http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztecs/Codex-Azcatitlan.pdf (Accessed 15-11-2014)

    Thittichai, K. (2009) Experimental textiles London: Batsford

    T1-E1:P1-p1-s2 Developing source material – themes
    Textiles 1 – Exploring Ideas
    Part 1: Cultural fusions
    Project 1: Interpreting cultural sources
    Stage 2: Developing your source material
    Developing source material – themes

    2 Responses to “T1-E1:P1-p1-s2 Developing source material – themes”

    1. 1 Lyn December 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Your research has been fascinating, and it will be interesting to see which direction you take!

      • 2 fibresofbeing December 8, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        Hi Lyn
        I was reading more on Aztec philosophy today – some really interesting ideas which resonate with me. I didn’t expect to find such a link with a people who seemed so foreign, so appalling, at first.

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