Soil for the immaterial realm – Mens agitat molem?


An approach to material culture

The (relatively) temporary – human body – serves as a tool, through which we relate to the material environment and conducts the processes as they unfold; therefore creating platform for the immaterial to be embedded in the physical, in materia.

Culture is rooted in this elastic space – between the ‘flesh and the stone’ – where there is potential translating the intangible. This form of expression is manifested in diverse shapes. Thus through articulation it becomes substantial and intelligible that can be interpreted extensively. Due to the number of distinctive interpretations (and adaptations) by different individuals and practices, culture inherently mutates.

Under these circumstances our material culture exists as derivative of the conducted activities. When subjects and activities are brought together – they explain each other.*


MENS AGITAT MOLEM’ means “mind moves matter” as in Virgil’s Aeneid (book 6, line 727)

– is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations.
– is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the remains of the history of a particular past human society.
– can refer to – the physical artifacts: as the only record of the civilization; are used to associate a given site and time period with a given society.
– means – our engagement with the physical world through specific objects.
according to [1]

– is the product of human creativity. It is one of the means through which people engaged within each other and with the social and natural worlds in which they lived – it was integral to their creation as individuals and as communities. It also survives to us in the present – and is the principle means through which we access their past and reconstruct their lifeways, beliefs and behaviour.
according to [2]

– and visual culture is concerned with how people make, exchange and consume the material world, but equally with how material forms and visual images are central to the socialisation of human beings into culture.
according to [3]

MATERIA is the Latin term for “material” and may refer to: matter or substance. Derived from māter (“mother”) in the sense of “source”.

ELASTIC SPACE is used in terms of being context-specific, responding to the needs as they arise.

‘FLESH AND THE STONE’ is a collocation borrowed from Richard Sennett by whom a book was written with the same title.

‘TRANSLATE THE INTANGIBLE’ a symposium with this title was organised by the AA PhD students in 2012. [4]

* The thought was expressed by Christian Norberg-Schulz in the Concept of dwelling (1985).



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