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Transformations of the Line: Traces, Threads and Surfaces

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This article forms part of a wider comparative exploration of the history and anthropology of the line. I show that in any such exploration, at stake are not only the lines themselves and their production, but also the nature of the relation between lines and surfaces. Distinguishing between threads and traces and drawing on a wide range of ethnographic material dealing with looping, weaving, embroidery, knotwork, brocade and calligraphy, I show how traces are transformed into threads in the dissolution of surfaces and how threads are transformed into traces in their constitution.

Keywords: brocade; calligraphy; embroidery; knotwork; line; looping; maze; surface; thread; trace; weaving

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Textile brings together research in textile studies in an innovative and distinctive academic forum for all those who share a multifaceted view of textiles within an expanded field. Peer-reviewed and in full-color throughout, it represents a dynamic and wide-ranging set of critical practices. It provides a platform for points of departure between art and craft; gender and identity; cloth, body and architecture; labor and technology; techno-design and practice— all situated within the broader contexts of material and visual culture.

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