The Textility of Making

Posted: 25 Jan 2010

Date Written: January 2010


Contemporary discussions of art and technology continue to work on the assumption that making entails the imposition of form upon the material world, by an agent with a design in mind. Against this hylomorphic model of creation, I argue that the forms of things arise within fields of force and flows of material. It is by intervening in these force-fields and following the lines of flow that practitioners make things. In this view, making is a practice of weaving, in which practitioners bind their own pathways or lines of becoming into the texture of material flows comprising the lifeworld. Rather than reading creativity ‘backwards’, from a finished object to an initial intention in the mind of an agent, this entails reading it forwards, in an ongoing generative movement that is at once itinerant, improvisatory and rhythmic. To illustrate what this means in practice, I compare carpentry and drawing. In both cases, making is a matter of finding the grain of the world's becoming and following its course. Historically, it was the turn from drawing lines to pulling them straight, between predetermined points, which marked the transition from the textilic to the architectonic, debasing the former as craft while elevating the latter as technology.

Keywords: Making, Weaving, Hylomorphism, Materials, Agency, Creativity, Carpentry, Drawing

JEL Classification: 030

Suggested Citation

Ingold, Tim, The Textility of Making (January 2010). Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 34, Issue 1, pp. 91-102, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Tim Ingold (Contact Author)

University of Aberdeen ( email )

Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

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