Ravenstein Keynote Lecture Professor Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen)

Surface Memories: Inscription and Erasure

Date: 24 January 2019
Time: 10.15 – 11.15 hrs
Utrecht University, Drift 21, room 032
To register: send an e-mail to osl-fgw@uva.nl, with your full name and affiliation

How are memories written into material surfaces? How are they retained or erased? Materials vary, depending on their capacity both to be marked by use and to retain the marks that have been made in them. They also respond differently to wear and tear or erosion. Thus, qualities of hardness and softness, solidity and fluidity, all affect the mnemonic capacities of surfaces. The hardest of surfaces will remain unmarked by use; whereas in the most fluid of surfaces the traces of use are instantly dissipated. Mnemonic surfaces are in between: they are neither hard nor fluid but solid and soft. Thus the forest floor retains the footpath, the parchment the inky traces of the scribe, the house-timber the traces of the axe.The properties of these surfaces will be explored, showing that what they have in common is an anti-stratigraphic principle according to which memories from the past gradually rise to the surface even as they are undercut by the marks of the present.