Transformation: the conjunction of crafted process and the brain as memory repository
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Acknowledging Otto Von Busch’s work, “Shapeshifting can be considered a capacity or potential of sentient beings, a capability of organisms to auto-transformations, as responsive agency to their settings.” Fusing textiles and photography, this paper considers the contribution a practice-based, conceptual approach to textiles can make to the exploration and visualization of the morphing of memory and, in the process, considers the transformative, “shapeshifting” powers at work within the human brain. A cluster of diagnostic descriptors (including vascular cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) provide reference points for causal factors and anticipated transformative outcomes associated with changes in brain function. This paper explores new territory with its linking of this “wearing” or “abrading” of memory to analogue photographic materiality and the understated significance of textile substrates or objects. All share varying degrees of disappearance or transformation: from the “gaps” that appear in recall; the physicality of the unravelling thread and thinning construction of the worn textile substrate; the “invisible” ubiquity of textiles: and the creased, faded, well-handled materiality of the analogue family snapshot or studio portrait (now increasingly supplanted by digital files). The repositioning and revaluing of a return to craft, to labour intensive, accumulative practices, play their part in this evolving narrative of creative practice. The paradigmatic shift can be expressed through the conjunction of image and substrate; process and outcome – constructing, re-imaging, unpicking, re-forming, transforming and revealing – a transformation that calls upon this twinning of concept and substrate, craft and process to explore the universal human concern of the morphing of memory housed within the shapeshifting repository of the human brain.