Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where am I?

I started this project in response to a call for abstracts for the next conference of the Textile Society of America, Textiles & Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyberspace. I saw this as an opportunity to investigate the quilt medium from a different angle.

I have chosen three quilts by three Australian quiltmakers: Love Will Nail You To The Cross (1995-1997) by Judy McDermott, The Lost Bird Series (2006) by Pamela Fitzsimons and, Reconfiguring The Wall (2006) by Emma Rowden.
Each of these quilts is associated with a specific site: 'Long Bay Gaol' (Sydney NSW), the Bow Wow Gorge (lower Hunter Valley, NSW) and, 'Callan Park Hospital for the Insane' (now, 'Sydney College for the Arts', Sydney NSW). For this study each quilt is also linked with a blog site: The Big House, About Time and, Reconfiguring The Wall. Three blogs which are are stand-alone but also linked to each other and to this, the original blog set up for this project.

Just as I have chosen specific quilts by three quiltmakers, I am focusing on Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari's theory of 'Smooth Space' outlined in their book, A Thousand Plateaus. Their theory prefigured but can also be used to describe the structure of the internet (boundless,without distinctions, blurs differences, rhizomatic, connective, open ended, generative).

Thus the use of the internet is also fundamental to this project. D & G use the patchwork quilt as an illustration of their theory of smooth space, so my question is not: does the structure of the quilt resemble smooth space? but can their ideas open up other spaces for conceptualizing the quilt and the processes of quiltmaking? And testing this through the use of the process of blogging.

I see myself not as objective observer but as an active participant in this project. It is for this reason I have framed the project in terms of 'performance': a 'frame' that is not fixed but shifts - more conversation than statement - just as this blog seeks to open up other connections rather than arrive at a definitive answer.

Images: (Top) Love Will Nail You To The Cross (1995-1997) photographer A Payne
               (Middle) The Lost Bird Series (2006) photographer D Barnes
               (Bottom) Reconfiguring The Wall (2006) Photographer E Rowden


  1. Sarah, I have been wanting to respond for some time ~ your thoughts on the page, this virtual page, make me want to respond, and yet something holds me back. This is your work, your page, and in itself it seems finished, despite the open-ended nature of the blog structure. To respond seems like an interruption, a distraction towards someone else’s thoughts, someone else’s voice and interests. The page of ideas excites, enthralls ~ it is like a book of instalments, like the radio programs at night where one would wait for the next instalment, the next chapter, to be disclosed, to enchant one’s thoughts for the time given... And the uncertain nature of when the next instalment will occur is another fascinating part of the whole thing. One is never quite sure when something will appear, as well as never knowing in advance the nature of the content and where it will lead. I want to respond as one does in a conversation, in a letter, and yet the structure of the blog somehow disinclines… it has the sense of the published, the feel of something discrete and complete in itself, even in the unfinished manner of the content, the work, the thoughts and ideas. I do not mind this, it is just a surprise. Takes me by surprise perhaps because of its contradictory nature ~ it makes me want to respond and makes it hard to respond. The performative element perhaps, of having to commit, having to take to the stage, the public arena… Perhaps it’s just a matter of confidence, of bravado, of not caring about audience, as you say, and just getting on with the conversation which you have so generously offered up.

  2. Thank you Ruth! You have touched on an unexpected issue I am finding with the blog and I have still to work out whether it reflects something that I have done (or am not doing) or, whether it is a characteristic of the structure of the weblog itself.
    When I started I envisaged more dialog--which is not happening.
    And when I look at other blogs, it's not happening there either. Yes there are comments but not many of length.
    I struggle with the posting themselves: at what stage of the writing process should I 'post' them?
    I am resisting the idea that they should be in what I consider to be a 'finished' form--they represent an idea (or ideas) of the moment, notes that I have worked on from my journals but more fragments than anything complete. I am enjoying the opportunity to write about whatever I have on my mind at the time. Then leave it at that, to be returned to at a later date if I feel the need.
    I accept it's bravado (it feels like it) but I reassure myself that anyone doesn't have to read it if they don't want to!
    And it seems to be working for me in terms of my writing practice! I don't think I have written so regularly as I am doing in this project!