Amazing Meeting of April 30, 2023
On April 30, 2023, SMRN had another warm meeting with a group of members including Radek Przedpełski, Farshid Kazemi, Niusha Hatefinia, Minoo Moallem, J.R. Osborn, Nezih Erdogan, Azadeh Emadi, Masayuki Iwase, Cigdem Borucu, Bettina Schülke, and Nina Czegledy.
At this meeting, we had two engaging presentations that delved into intriguing topics. During the first part of the meeting, our member Carol Bier took us on a journey through her research on pattern-making and textile technologies along the Silk Roads, offering us a fascinating glimpse into the intricate world of textile history. Following Carol's captivating presentation, our friend Radek Przedpelski introduced us to the thought-provoking ideas of Jerzy Ludwiński, an influential art philosopher from 1970s People's Republic of Poland.
Carol's presentation explored the intricate world of textile technologies and pattern-making practices that thrived along the historic Silk Roads. It traced the evolution of weaving techniques, ranging from elementary structures like plain weave to the more sophisticated and visually captivating compound weaves exemplified by takite and samit. The discussion also extended its inquiry to the enigmatic origins of pile carpet weaving, an art form showcasing remarkable technical prowess, which has been evidenced as far back as the Hellenistic era in Siberia. Another intriguing facet examined was the utilization of resist patterning, specifically warp resist patterning, known as ECOT. This distinctive technique has surfaced in diverse locales along the Silk Roads, from 5th-century Ajanta in India to 10th-century Yemen, and even in regions as far apart as Uzbekistan, Japan, and Guatemala, raising questions about its spread and cultural significance. Furthermore, the presentation delved into the development of drawloom weaving, a pivotal technological advancement that enabled the mechanical repetition of patterns within woven textiles. This innovation likely took root in regions like Iran or Mesopotamia before finding its way back to China. Notably, the interplay between patterning and technological advancements remained a central theme throughout the presentation. It left us pondering unanswered questions about the origins and early developments of these textile technologies, the intriguing connections between warp-based warp pattern textiles from Han China and later West face compound weaves in silk from Western Asia, as well as the enigmatic place of velvet weaving within this trajectory. The presentation underscores the need for continued research and exploration to unravel the intricate threads of history woven into the fabric of Silk Road textiles.
Radek's presentation explored the philosophical ideas of Jerzy Ludwiński, a prominent figure in 1970s Poland's art scene. Ludwiński played dual roles as a curator and art philosopher, bridging these worlds with his unique perspective on art's evolution and its connection to ecology. His work aimed to view art as a means of protecting and resonating with the Earth rather than exploiting it, foreshadowing ecological thinking. Ludwiński's preferred mode of communication was through ephemeral forms like notes and abstracts, accompanied by intricate diagrams, which he began crafting in the early 1970s.
Central to Ludwiński's philosophy was his conception of the stages of art evolution. He Initially depicted this as an accumulating ring structure, akin to tree rings, reflecting a biocentric perspective. However, he later transitioned to more expressive and multiplicitous diagrams to capture the dynamic and energetic transformations within art, transcending finite substance. Ludwiński's ideas also encompassed the historical avant-garde and the transition to contemporary art. He saw the avant-garde as a violent force seeking to conquer and erase tradition, a viewpoint he viewed critically. He believed that contemporary art marked a revolutionary shift, connecting distant cultures and times, enabling art to traverse time and space. This led to what he termed the "eternity of art," where art became an ontological condition of the universe.
A crucial element of Ludwiński's philosophy was his differentiation between the avant-garde and underground art. While the former was marked by conquest and violence, the latter, often referred to as "implosive art," delved deeper into subatomic layers, working harmoniously with reality rather than seeking to dominate it. This distinction embodied his ecological and non-violent perspective, offering a unique lens through which to view the evolution of art and its profound connection to the natural world.
These two presentations were followed by engaging discussions with the members in the form of questions, answers, and exchanges of thought-provoking feedback afterward.