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THE TUBULAR LOOM – Bioscleave House, East Hampton NY 2011 – semi-permanent installation – 25+ft long  – rope and ratchet strap

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Full Title: Tubular Loom Bioscleave House – Biotopological Diagramming Assistant and Don’t Fall Trainer – un nontombeau pour Arakawa, and now Madeline, too.

Tubular Loom Bioscleave House 2

Instructions for Use:

1. Standing in the entrance (near/narrow end), begin to walk towards the far end. When you begin to fall, don’t.

2. Take any length of colored string or yarn in the box provided, (the box is in the connection between the old house and the new.) Tying on at the entrance (either end), weave your way to the far end, observing the result. Using a second length, tied on to a position on the black ring rope directly opposite to the first, weave your way through again mirroring the first weave, and restoring the symmetry the first weave broke.

3. Take a length of elastic rope from the box provided. (There are 16 of these, cut to 25ft lengths) Approach the loom from the near/narrow end. Tie one end of your rope on to the black loop rope forming the entrance ring. Draw, thread, stretch, tie or wind the length of your rope as needed to make the loom more the way you would like it. Repeat as necessary to achieve the desired result.


CONCEPT – Body-Wide Diagramming of Anything Happening – Schema-scaffolding for unfolding the architectural body in conjunction with a visit to the Bioscleave House.

PROTOTYPE – Mekoos Quebec, for Generating the ImpossibleScreen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.46.07 PM

Rhythm Tunnel Vision of the Oncoming All-Encompassement


The Tubular Loom is a philosophical construction which seeks to materialize a fundamental metaphor for the mind as a body-scale, interactive diagram and performance staging. Building on sculptural elements and conceptual material used in the Reading Room installations(Slought Foundation 2008), and involving metaphors to be explored and analyzed in the companion book See What You Mean, the Tubular Loom will offer visitors the experience of entering an externalized schematic diagram of their own thought experience. Interacting with the structure will require physical activities, (reaching, pulling, threading, tying, twining etc) that correspond metaphorically to mental contents and mental functions. The metaphorical correspondences will become palpable as a real physiological coordination of body and brain, and the thinking something you can do by hand or dancing.

Warp: The warp is the horizontal arrangement of threads to support weaving. In the metaphorics of this construction it corresponds to the constant or invariant descriptors of the lived situation at different degrees of permanence: The different sense modalities, mental faculties, laws, condions, resources, certainties and assumptions believed to be holding up reality.

Weft: The weft (or woof) is the transverse weave of thread articulating the warp into a fabric with patterns and variation. The immediate focus of awareness and the changing field of contexts, objects, actors, events and relations appear against, and thread through, the background of the warp, and trace the specific story and song of a passage of thought or experience.

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Time Structure: The left and right articulation of the warp, viewed down the axis of the loom, corresponds to the mirroring fields of retention and protention, in phenomenological theory what is held in working memory and what is projected into the future by expectation. A new item of awareness enters as a weft thread at the center of awareness and is sewn both into the receding log of what has just happened, and into the forward horizon of what might be coming. The design of the loom and of the interactions it invites will be tied in this way to the articulations of introspective psychology and phenomenological theory, reflecting for example the structure of time-consciousness discerned by thinkers such as Edmund Husserl, Francisco Varela and the ever-actual Abhidamma texts of esoteric Buddhism.

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         my mind a shuttle among
                         set strings of the music
        lets a weft of dream grow in the day time,
                           an increment of associations
               luminous soft threads,
        the thrown glamour, crossing and recrossing,
                     the twisted sinews underlying the work.

        Back of the images, the few cords that bind
             meaning in the word-flow,
                                    the rivering web
                    rises among wits and senses
        gathering the wool into its full cloth.

        Robert Duncan “At the Loom” from The
        Bending of the Bow, New Directions 1963, p. 11

Mental Effort: Interacting with the structure will require physical activities, (reaching, pulling, threading, tying, twining etc) that correspond metaphorically to mental functions. Making a connection or a distinction, pursuing a line of reasoning, untying an emotional knot, projecting, thinking back, making a break, all become concrete gestures which can be performed with greater or lesser degrees of consciousness, and greater or lesser chances at magical efficacy. On the one hand the Tubular Loom is intended as a body-scale version of the meditational diagrams and devices used by early Christian and earlier Buddhist mystics. On the other hand it is a more near-at-hand version of the memory theaters imagined and constructed by Renaissance magi for mastering the mind through its architectural allegorization. The Tubular Loom is not an aide for recalling distant things, but rather for holding the vast fabric of consciousness’s immediate materials, and working through its tissue for insights and resolution. At a higher level of use, the detailed metaphorics of the construction can be forgotten, and the threads handled intuitively and by heart. If the esoteric guess behind this project is right, the dull material symbols may link for real to the vital inner life, and the Loom at last offer its users a concrete grasp of the hidden universe of their psyches. As one Pr. Pear wrote in 1923, “If the discovery of the psychological nature of meaning were completely successful, it might put an end to psychology altogether.

Weaving: The stringing of the loom will be symbolically coded, allowing it to function as a 3- dimensional diagram for the complex interlinking of contexts, objects, actors and events in a given situation or passage of inner experience. Anyone using the loom will be able to label the underlying warp ropes according to the principal contextualizing factors and elements of the thought to be diagrammed, and then tie and thread new ropes as needed to track the variable elements and emergent awarenesses of tension, connection, confluence and encounter that describe the experience.

During the exploratory stages, experiments will be made with various techniques from netmaking, domestic knitting and industrial loom weaving. Cordage will be chosen on the basis of strength.

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Performance: The Loom is ultimately intended to serve as a device for embodied contemplation. Its illustrative function in diagramming the factors and dynamics of mental experience is just the start. Only through physical participation can its message be successfully communicated, and then in the form not of a visual image, but of a kinaesthetically reinforced dynamic understanding. Anyone engaging the Tubular Loom will learn its lessons, the lessons of an intricate, timeless metaphor for the mind, they way one learns a dance step or the hand-eye coordination for tying complex knots. Ultimately it aims to become the basis of a cognitively-informed, yet bodily and intuitively felt contemplative practice, and will be demonstrated as such in a performative lecture on the occasion of its unveiling.

The Harness: Visitors will engage with the installation as a sculpture they can touch, pull, on, thread and climb. Instructions will be provided, and the structure will be labeled and prepared in ways making it intuitively handle-able, the way everyone would know how to do something with a spinning wheel. A special harness, equipped with thread leads, loop hooks, guy lines, and spooled thread, will be hung at the entrance to the space where the loom has been constructed. Putting it on will equip the visitor to link-up to the structure as him- or herself the “shuttle” or “weaving ship” who will do the weaving. Whether or not the user projects any particular thinking or emotional linkage into their interaction with the structure, the materiality of the strung construction and the harness will intitiate its own kind of dialogue with the visitor’s body. When there is projection, this dialogue will anchor higher-level (emotional, intellectual) processes through strong and clear kinaesthetic/tactile feedback into the body of the moving user. Eventually this muscular and skeletal engagement with the structure can come to replace the explicit tracking and thinking with which the interaction began. As the body continues to move without thinking, the thinking goes on unconsciously, but in observable actions. Here it may begin to be possible to work through problems that require our most intelligent attention, but that cannot be trusted to the mind and its abstractions.