HOMO TEXTOR Conference

 17th and 18th September 2019

Weaving as technical mode of existence.

Date 17th and 18th September 2019
Location Kerschensteiner Kolleg of Deutsches Museum, Museumsinsel 1, 80538 Munich (Entrance from Library Building)

The title of this conference, homo textor, refers to three dimensions of humans where weaving (texere in Latin) is at stake. First of all, textile production is one of the oldest technologies and constituted the exchange of homo sapiens with the world longer than any other craft. The title (and the featured image) also alludes to the fact that the human body and brain both consist of connected fibres. Furthermore, recent studies in ethnology and anthropology suggest that the concept of weaving stands in for the inner connection of societies and their proper relation to the world, today all pervasive in the idea of the world-wide web.

Understanding weaving as a mode of existence means to look at the logic and practice of patterns and weaving as a generic principle that is able to structure a whole community, its art and knowledge, and its way to think about nature and the cosmos.

HOMO TEXTOR will be a conference rethinking ancient weaving and pattern technologies as paradigms for order in ancient Greece and exploring ancient weaving as a technē at the junction of art, craft and technology. We want to address ways in which the distinctive logic of weaving and its patterns shapes early Greek modes of thinking about order in a range of domains. In order to show that the binary structure of patterns still provides ample possibilities beyond the mere textile domain, we will also have sessions and short performances of contemporary digital examples.

We approach the topic from the perspective of various disciplines (philology, ethnology, mathematics, art, computer science) along four main topics:

  • Weaving as Order in Ancient Greece
  • The Textile Production of Weaving and Song
  • The Textile Production of Knowledge and Science
  • Pattern Machines: Alternative Histories

HOMO TEXTOR is a two day conference on the 17th and 18th September at the Kerschensteiner Kolleg of Deutsches Museum, Munich, organized by the ERC project PENELOPE at the Research Institute of the History of Technology and Science.



The PENELOPE Project

The PENELOPE Project (ERC Consolidator Grant no. 682711) intends to demonstrate that the Greeks actually had a precise understanding of weaving which they used as a model for order in the community or city state (Plato, Politikos), in accounts of the origin and structure of the cosmos (Pherekydes), in thinking, in mathematics, in poetic and musical composition (Pindar, Bacchylides), in myths and rituals (Panathenaia). For archaic Greece, weaving was able to integrate technology and nature.

One of the instances where the fundamental importance of weaving for the ancient Greek communities can be grasped is the Panathenaia Festival in Athens. In the final chapter of his Inquiry into modes of existence, Latour is dreaming of a new Panathenaic event and wonders, “what a contemporary Panathenaic procession would look like”. Describing the participants of the Panathenaic festival in all details from the friezes of the Parthenon, its ambassadors, gods and other festive visitors, Latour, however, completely misses the centre of the whole: the practical weaving and the dedication of a fabric (a peplos) for Athena, goddess of science, wisdom, craft, technology, and weaving. This integrative power of weaving as a paradigm for a description of transformation processes that generates “forms” in a way different from our ideas on design and production is what we want to articulate in our project.


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