Part 4 of Moving on to Mobility: Archaeological Ambulations on the Mobile World
Motion capture of superimposed images of a moving pole (Étienne-Jules Marey c.1900)
“While the body moves, movement is not only in the body, but in the world around ...” (Posted by Oscar on Oct 15/2009 04:17AM)
Fluid interdependence as a concern emerges by attaching significance to things not as closed systems that are separate and self-contained, but as highly connected. This is not, however, the ‘becoming’ of distinct entities or distinct sets of relations; rather, it is about the in-between (Deleuze & Guattari 2004: 223; Ingold 2010: 96). This is an argument against separate and distinct realms of people and places, instead arguing for a complex relationality of people and places that are performed and worked on within common ontological grounds. This addresses the problem of dealing with single entities that are always complex intersections. For example, landscapes are ‘endless regimes of flows’ that move at ‘different speeds, scales and viscosities’ (Sheller & Urry 2006: 213). Fluid interdependence is also the ‘complex’ or milieu in which connectivities are situated, and consequently, we can read and summarise the other concerns taken up in our series of pieces on movement within this final category. Thus, dwelling in movement provides an ever-changing (and thus fluid) set of relations. A flat ontology attempts to treat the things in places as they are together – not separated or layered, but interdependent. A place, then, is not an accretion of things over time, but rather a complex series of spatial relationships in a temporal setting derived from the flows that move through them, the former definition neglecting the rhythmic movement that accompanies accretion.
Forces of fluidity
Archaeology, as David Clarke (1973) tells us, is what archaeologists do. And archaeologists work on what is left behind. But rather than considering this due to the slowness and gradual inertia of material practices, we need to consider that residual objects have archaeological importance precisely because they have survived and have been resilient to the opposing forces of entropy and dispersion, and accretion and deposition (Olivier 2008: 274; Lucas 2008; Aldred & Lucas 2010). The tension between these forces has kept a balance in the material world. Thus, we can forensically follow movement in the hope of not only materialising past material practices, such as movement, but understanding the forces which produce these practices and keep things residual and resilient to transformation. In practice, even the fluid and emergent world we have been presenting needs to ‘stick’ around. In some sense, things do this only because they are useful beyond their intended uses. Making things useful concerns a form of bricolage whereby the practice of archaeology and all of its movements are aligned to the objects it creates. For example, the paths along which movement occurs during surveying archaeology are acts of incorporating by retracing the paths and monuments made in the past. Consequently, the material markers of movement become useful because they structure how a surveyor moves in a landscape. This initial field perspective is often superseded by the interpretative use that these material remains have in accounting for the movements that took place in the past. But if we retain these initial observations, movement as material ‘culture’ is fluid and open to the differing negotiations that emerge as objects. By examining how entities become useful is to follow their transformations.
A Möbius strip: a reaffirming paradox (David Benbennick)
An important force in the transformation of archaeological materials is brought about as objects are gathered together. Þing in Icelandic translates into English as ‘assembly’, a gathering of people to decide on community and national issues: the etymology of the word thing. So a thing is a gathering, an assembling of objects (Witmore http://traumwerk.stanford.edu/archaeolog/2010/02/the_realities_of_the_past_arch.html). Shanks has related this idea to the notion of cyborg (http://humanitieslab.stanford.edu/107/3382), and Olsen has discussed this in reference to removing the object:subject relationality that is based on the a priori assumption of a dichotomy (2003, 2010). How we want to think about thing as a gathering is in reference to movement. This is not a gathering towards, but a gathering along in making the thing; it forefronts the very activeness of making and the movement involved in the gathering process. In other words, a gathering as movement goes along. The process of gathering is itself a form of movement, and it is one that does not stop, but continues to gather, moving on to another assemblage in the process of making new connectivities/assemblies/assemblages/things. Heidegger’s usage of thing is a movement towards, rather than along – a suturing by building a bridge in the making of place as objects gather around its foundations (2008 ). If we turn this around, then gathering as movement changes a thing from something stable and fixed to something mobile that is always transforming into something else – think of the Zeno’s flight of the arrow and its temporal paradox. As Whitehead intimates, we can relate this proposition of movement to those things that appear to be solid, but are actually rather ephemeral (1979). And as Bergson suggests further, the solidity of change is “infinitely superior to that of fixity which is only an ephemeral arrangement between mobilities” (Bergson  2007: 125 (our italics)). It is not so much the material culture of movement that is the only matter of concern for archaeology, but also the practices used to make these objects, both in the sense of how they were made in the past and how they have been used after this process, including how we ascribe meaning. Consequently, archaeologists should be developing appropriate ways to intervene in the present in representing the past by considering the notion that the material world is always emerging and becoming. Change, not continuity, is the force of the material world.
By way of an end, we would like to highlight the necessity of thinking about residuality in terms of the transformations that occur in movement from the materialised traces, to materialising practices, and the usefulness of material in structuring movements in aligning objects through a kind of bricolage (all above discussed). And, so in ending, we would like to draw your attention to two important themes: rhythm and speed.
Rhythm and speed
Lefebvre offers some key ideas with which to think about rhythm and speed in the concrete mobilities of social time (1991, 2004), which are inextricably linked to the everyday. He suggests that life is built upon the temporal episodes of the everyday: it is simultaneously the site of, the theatre for, and what is at stake in a conflict between production, consumption, circulation and habitat. These acquired and created rhythms are simultaneously externalised and internalised as well as social: ‘in one day in the modern world, everybody does more or less the same thing at more or less the same times, but each person is really alone in doing it’ (2004: 75). The importance of rhythm and speed are then critical to understanding the relationships that come together in an archaeology of movement, in both the way in which archaeologists study materialised patterns of movement and the materialising tempos of movements; space – time – movement characterise this concern with the rhythms and speed of the everyday and those ‘past’ days obsessively studied by archaeologists.
Converging fluid rhythms in Arica, Chile - a racer rides his motorcycle during the sixth stage of the 2011 Argentina-Chile Dakar rally (Natacha Pisarenko)
The two concepts of rhythm for Lefebvre are ‘cyclical’ and ‘linear’. Cyclical processes and movement are innumerable: undulations, vibrations, returns and rotations. ‘Linear’ designates any series of identical facts separated by long or short periods of time. Between them there is an antagonistic unity in which cyclical and linear penetrate one another in an ‘interminable struggle’, but there is also an indissoluble unity in the repetitive tick-tock and the cycle of days and nights. Other categories of time, besides cyclical and linear, are ‘appropriated’ time: a time that forgets time, during which time no longer counts (and consequently is no longer counted). This type of time, Lefebvre argues, is in harmony with itself such that other things no longer matter: as he puts it, ‘time is in time; it is time, but no longer reflects it’ (2004: 77).
For there to be rhythm there must be repetition in movement. Not just any movement, but one that can be defined in terms of its speed (quick or slow, weak or strong) and that returns according to regular and irregular iterations. This brings a differentiated time, a qualified duration; and the same can be said of repetitions, ruptures and resumptions. A rhythm then presupposes its temporal element by being thoroughly marked, accentuated, contrasted. An overall movement occurs within all of these elements and it is a kind of dance: a waltz, which is fast or slow (Lefebvre 2004: 79). However, rhythm is contrasted with its arrhythmia. These are not opposites in the strictest sense of being opposed to one another, but they are different entities – opposites only in language: to understand one we need to understand the other in a rhythm project. In order to study rhythms one must be placed outside of them; to be in them is not to sense them (Lefebvre 2004: 27ff); there needs to be a process of movement. For instance, the rhythms that are produced while moving in a landscape by surveying its archaeology are often not included in archaeological narratives. We are too close to them, or rather they are not sensed. Giving some distance to the ‘choreographies’ of practice not only gives a space for reflection but also a way in which to enfold the exterior space in as if was a dance:
“the imbrications of sign and context, body and consciousness, prepare the construction of a plane of immanence or consistency in movements. It is by virtue of the inherence of the agent of construction (movement) in the materiality of the plane (movement) that dance, more so than any other art, makes itself a plane of immanence directly, in the very act of dancing. To dance is to flow in immanence” (Gil 2004: 126-7).
With this double aspect, field survey as dance rhythm enters into a general relational construction that circulates between space, time, and movement in their becomings, in the way that co-presence, observation, convergence and fluidity coalesce. These conditions are associated with the rhythms and speed of the body, but also those taking place in the wider landscape. What is sensed from this is the formation of multiple kinds of bodies where intensities of speeds and rhythms flow. This has some resonances with those discussed/imagined by Deleuze and Guattari. In particular, where intensities flow in moving bodies where their interior spaces are emptied out. This folding out and in of the space around a body has been discussed in relation to dance by Gil (2006) as body-space by drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s space of the body (2002 ). The surface of the body-space first extends out folding the space around it, and then falls back to skin. In this way, the skin is impregnated with the expurgated interior space. What this means is that the body has no separation between the space outside of it or between its inside space; body is mind and vice versa, and there is only immanence; no traces of material, only trance and allure, like a Möbious body (rather than strip): desire desires to assemble an immanence and to flow (Gil 2006: 31ff). This may be difficult to relate to an archaeology of movement, but it is compelling to consider that the separations such as those that we often focus on archaeologically (such as between past movement and those that we conduct in the present) are rather like the body-spaces that lie outside and inside. But as soon as movement occurs through survey/dance these no longer apply as distinct body-spaces but are one space operating in tandem with the speeds and rhythms of actualised movement as an imminent force of mobility that has no temporality other than the one we make.
In performing movement through each of the presented papers, all the speakers, in some way, moved closer to these kinds of body-spaces where actualised movement was occurring. John wrote of moving bodies, stairs and slopes, all embroiled in the experience of Roman villas. Noach, presented a similar perspective in moving through Cretan palaces. Sarah articulated the feeling/sensing body and the need to discern types of travel and the rates of travel in order to discern its significance. Christine discussed movement and production in a location, happening alongside movement between locations. Oscar teased out the differences and difficulties of representation and experience, considering their rhythms and how they accomplish different connotations in practice. Finally, Brad documented the way a multiplicity of movement coheres in Attic silver mines. These are all beginnings, not an end to our story.
The desire for mobility: A finale and A beginning
Mobility, for us, is about incorporating our concerns of movement into a broader discourse, archaeological and otherwise, but also in focusing on how what actually moving and conducting archaeology can tells us about how people in the past moved and understood their material worlds. Movement is not about getting somewhere, but holding relevance in a number of arenas. It is not a matter of understanding what societal mechanisms facilitated the distribution of goods from one place to another, but understanding how getting from one place to another influences societal mechanisms. Mobility is about landscapes that are in motion, that house bodies and things in motion, and that do so with simultaneous rhythms. In fact landscape is movement, place, dwelling, experience or otherwise. Above all, the concept of mobility offers an opportunity to assess how archaeology, cultural geography, anthropology, etc. intersect to create substantive accounts of past and present. Always-in-motion creates a set of problems for the notions of representation and narrative that our disciplines encounter daily but often fail to resolve. Mobility is about questioning stability, whether of borders, places or substances, and suggesting an alternative ‘standpoint’ that is not person specific, but context specific in the sense that the moment, the speed, the things, the location, the directionality, and so on, all matter to our accounts of the world. Movement, in this way, is more than the comparison of social perspectives and structures, but the recognition of fluid, interconnected, and distributed happenstances.
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Heidegger, M. 2008 . Building, dwelling, thinking, in Krell, D. F. (ed.) Basic writings. Martin Heidegger. New York: HarperPerennial Row. Pp. 347-63.
Ingold, T. 2010. The Textility of Making, Cambridge Journal of Economics 34.1: 91-102.
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Olsen, B. 2010. In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press.
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