connecting material & emotion

We All Need To Scream

on emotionsAlicia Velazquez2 Comments

I recently finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I agree and love her liberating, celebrating and yet personally demanding belief on inspiration: we don't own ideas, they are not "produced" by us. Ideas are immaterial beings floating around, searching for a way to be manifest in the physical world. And we serve them as "lightning rods".
One of my favorite Big Magic moments was to re-learn about Tom Waits' relationship with inspiration and how he gets ideas for songs: to him some are hard work "like digging potatoes out of the ground".

It moved me to review and recount how ideas reach me. Here's my shortlist:

Some ideas come to me when I just woke up. They surprise me like the hug of a lover, from the back, when I'm still not fully awake.  

Some ideas hit me like a ray of sun, so lightly touching they might get lost without full attention.

Other ideas come to me when walking, alone. I realized this a while ago and I often do it on purpose. As if they have been bored, waiting, dormant for a long time, or perhaps walking with someone else, and when you start moving they join and walk with you. And the more you walk they become closer and louder, and they even call their friends to join. 

Other ideas come when sharing moments and conversations with others. I got to the conclusion that ideas show up wherever and whenever there is connection. They extend invisible cables to plug you and me, through a kind of invisible world wide web of ideas.

And very often lately, ideas come when I am making - or unmaking - something, working (connecting) with the material - normally thread. They embrace us both, happy to see us dancing, and start growing figments of thoughts, like herbs or flowers, and plant a garden in between us.

Here is a narrated video on one latest idea that hit me during the unmaking of a scarf

Perhaps emotions are the mirror beings to inspiration.

Ideas are floating in the ether, they are playful and surprising, and they hit us, searching to get manifested into the physical world.

And emotions are the playful and immaterial beings that live inside of us. Also floating in the ether: of our inner infinite universe. Trying to find ways to go out, points and pores to connect with the outside world, to be physically manifested: by writing, drawing, dancing, performing, laughing, crying, screaming, beating up, punching, running, compulsively shopping.
They are longing to be expressed.

Once they are manifested, they rest peacefully, even inside of us, we make friends with them. Or enemies. 

But, if we don't let them out or don't allow them to manifest outside they keep hanging around, lost in there, until they find themselves their own way to physically come out - perhaps through physical pain or illness.

  • How would your relationship with emotions change if you believe that, as ideas, they are simply trying to be expressed?

Do share your thoughts here below, or hit me in private.

Stupid Structure

material purposeAlicia Velazquez2 Comments

Things happen. Without even noticing, you find yourself one day in the middle of a storm, or battlefield. 

Me these days, I'm having a weekly back and forth between two cities. And I came to realize that, what seemed to be a matter of organization, has deeper and more complex consequences that what you can fix using time management tools.

After a month of traveling between Zurich and Brussels, living in two places, working in two studios (and even a third one as I take my transition time as an atelier space), one thing resonated with me a few days ago. This phrase by John Cage, shown by my colleague Eric Guibert during his PhD in progress presentation:

"Structure without life is dead, but life without structure is unseen.
Pure life expresses itself within and through structure"

The moment I saw this quote, I captured it and put it on my iPad's desktop. It resonated and I knew I had to place it where I could face it - until making some sense of it. 

Then, a few days later, this started to hit me. The image of being in the middle of shaking water, with little control from my part - basically enough control so as not to drown. 

How can I learn how to hold balance when everything around and under is in motion? And, more importantly, how do I make a surfboard?

I grabbed texture to try make sense of this. And started to connect the dots, literally. Because when in doubt or in storm, the mundane, daily small routines may give a basic skeleton from which to navigate bigger complexity. Kind of the surf board to help us balance on wavy waters. 

I'd love to hear about your thoughts, reflections and experience:

  • What kind of structure do you hold on to when in the middle of shaky life moments? an how do you materialize your stupid structure?

Being In Between

being in betweenAlicia VelazquezComment

I love being in between. Taking planes and trains, and road trips. Being part of that changing landscape brings me into a meditative state, into a place of high potential to be, to become and to transform. It's an experience filled with expectancy and desire, with fear and excitement.

Because you are passing by you are both an inhabitant and a viewer. You cannot be a tourist of the in between, as you are also living there, even if for a short time.

At this moment I have the opportunity to bring the "being in between" into a professional reality. As I recently became an Adapt-r fellow (Marie Curie ITN funding) I will be for a one-year period working in Zurich, in Brussels and in the in between. 

As a first reaction to this weekly motion, I started a series of material actions. To take a better look at these three places, and see myself in them. 

We forget about our time in between because we do forgettable things. We try to pass our time as quickly as possible. We read, write and look out of the window. We play cards or games. Sometimes we have great encounters and conversations, we read a book we have been wanting to for long time, or we get a very much needed sleep and silence moment to ourselves. We tend to fill our time there, rather than to "feel" our time. 

I love being in between. We take it as being in transit, expecting the upcoming or longing for what we left behind. But in between is also a destination. It's also a place. When we accept that, we will also "live" there.   

How do you experience being in between?


material purposeAlicia VelazquezComment

On the train from Brussels Nord towards Leuven, I look at all of us seating on the brown-leathered yellow-tabled car. We are all part of this material landscape. We - humans - move, we are alive, we emit sounds. Yet we are also mass, skin and form, and next to the other material forms we make this landscape of the now. Them and us, a temporary, dynamic landscape. A lifescape

Perhaps the mistake is to look at us and space as separate entities - us and materials, us and the train car. Perhaps it is now the moment when we should look at all of us as one thing.

Because part of this landscape remains - the material environment. But this landscape I am living in right now, this lifescape, exactly composed of the same mass, form and material as it is now only belongs to this very moment. There will not be another one like this, never. Never again there will be rain outside of this train wetting the windows. Never again this light. Nor are we train companions going to be in the same wagon, sitting in the same places at the same moment, wearing these clothes, having these conversations and getting these phone calls. The woman falling asleep in front of me, the business man looking at his mobile screen, the young guy in front of him with sleepy face looking now out the window, now at his phone. Never ever.

We are wrong. We have been wrong all along. We build and inhabit these material worlds believing that they never change, that we simply take our life in and out of them. But we overlook that our world is the combination of us and them. Us "and" the material world form a unique landscape every time. 

We are part of a dynamic lifescape. It is up to us to grasp it or not, to "be" inside it. We are not just watching it. Or experiencing it. We are part of it, indivisible part of it. It exists because of us. We give it meaning and life. 

Have you experienced yourself as indivisible part of your lifescape? Where, how?

I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below, or if you rather, send me a message.

Embracing In Between

material purposeAlicia VelazquezComment

Last week we had a workshop and exhibition in Aarhus (Denmark) during Adapt-r event Making Research Research Making. Adapt-r (Architecture, Design and Art Practice Training-research) is a European program and network to promote creative practices research.

Together with designer Verena Ziegler, and after working together for one year we presented there and for the first time our project Inhabiting In Between.

Inhabiting In Between started as a shared space. Coming both of us from an architecture background, we both had the urge to explore the humanness in materiality, bringing it closer to the body. What are the emotional connections that we share with and through materials? And how can we, as designers, as makers, as practitioners, explore these connections?

This shared space of being in between, started as a series of material acts. Performing these acts with the materials, letting them speak to us, we seek to unveil new emotional relationships.

From static materializations of in between space, we moved into dynamic techniques, and started working with inflatables.

How do we inhabit a space that is changing, that is changeable? When inhabiting a dynamic space we are not in control. We are simply there, having the experience. We can activate it, we can decide how to handle the texture or wrap it around ourselves. But it keeps a degree of unpredictability, which makes the act a shared space. We are therefore not designing the texture completely, but providing the space for the material, and our body, to have a shared experience. Of inhabiting together.

Will inflatable spaces give us a sense of belonging? Can materials help us to connect emotionally?

As we don't have answers but only questions, I leave you with a narrative video sharing some of our latest works and thoughts on inhabiting the in between.

And with a question to embrace:

  • what could it do for you? 

Looking forward to your comments here below.

Don't Try This With Your Kids

material purposeAlicia VelazquezComment
Texture study for collaborative fashion project Inhabiting Wearable Space, with MaryMeJimmiPaul's blue hair.

I am having a not-so-innocent relationship. With the material world. I not only poke, caress or hug walls (wall-hugger?). I lick, insert fingers, touch with my naked body.

You've done this too. When you slip in your clothes. Or lay in the bathtub. Swim. Peal a fruit. 

Having sex with objects? 

Why not?

Arousing "sexorial" connections with the textures that surround you may surprise you. It is not the fifty shades you imagine, but it's a fantastic training of your touch buds, it grows your tactile wisdom, it's a great skin workout, plus your full body will be happy you remember it exists. 

For the moment when you decide to share intimacy and skin with another body, even if it is an inanimate one, sensations arise. You grow your receptiveness listening to the voice of your skin, opening her eyes.

Texture sex may include spilling liquids, getting sticky, dirty, powdered, cold, hot, sweaty. Comfortable? Possibly not. Fun. Dirty. Familiar?

Don't wait till a new product or marketing message gives you permission to feel. 

The texture doctor advices: have texture sex. Daily. 

Start now: look around, pick one thing and one body part who have never been in touch. Introduce them. Let them have sex. Enjoy.

And! share me your insights and experience in the comments below.

Time Bomb

material purposeAlicia VelazquezComment

We now nothing is there forever. We change, objetcs change, the landscape changes. Our mood changes. Our body changes.

Made out of a material that disintegrates with time, Time-Bomb Dear bracelet is a temporary piece of jewelry. 

Wether you choose it for a loved one or for yourself, TBD changes as your love changes, as you change. TBD knows that your love fades along time. She understands. She has been designed for that. It is also her nature to change, and accompany you as you change.

TBD does the job for you. No need to think you need to keep it for good. No need to confront the guilt of getting rid of it. No need to apply the KonMari method. TBD dies.

TBD comes in a beautiful package, expiration date included. You may choose the desired length of your affection. We offer 3 types, with 3 different price ranges:

  • fast & furious
  • mild & mighty, and
  • long & luminous.

How dear is your love? Or how dare?

Drop me some love (or hate, or both), on the comment lines below. 

In Time We Ice

TouchstorytellingAlicia VelazquezComment

While welcoming the summer heat, I got to discover something that seems now so obvious: why not freezing some thread?

And the textures I got were quite intriguing.

Then it came: why not putting them over my body? And the first iced wearable was born. 

When wearing this innocent frozen necklace, and ready to reflect on temperature and texture, I discovered that ice actually was a representation of time.

We cannot freeze time. But we can materialize our time frozen. 

Get my iced impression on this 
new video below (audio included!)

Now I invite you to freeze and wear your own time block. And besides refreshing yourself, do share with me in the comments below

  • How do you imagine your iced time block in form and size?
  • How and where do you wear it on your body?