Old Materialism

Future Materials Conference, MOME, Budapest, Hungary (15.09.2022)

Materialism as Medium Panel (14.30-16.30)

This brief talk will suggest three examples of “old materialism” in the hopes of making accessible some of the academic enthusiasm for New Materialism today. Case 1: the anticipated lifespan of fashion designer Iris van Herpen’s Skeleton Dress (2011), a 3-D printed exoskeleton of white polyamide digitally developed with the architect Isaïe Bloch. Case 2: the role of material decay in The Hidden Force, a novel by Louis Couperus (1863-1923) published in 1900 and set on the island of Java during Dutch colonial rule of what is present day Indonesia. Case 3: The restoration of the tapestry We Are Living on a Star (1958) made by the artist Hannah Ryggen (1894-1970) damaged in 2011 when Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb outside The Highrise building in Oslo’s government quarter before driving to the island of Utøya where he killed in total 78 people. Each – in very different ways – offers an example of matter that has long been treated as far from inert.