Taylor Downard Sticky Correspondence: An animist design encounter

  • Tauira / Student
    Taylor Downard
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Sue Gallagher, Sue Jowsey

In 2020 when I worked at The Village Goldsmith, a customer came to the shop who wished to have her wedding ring fixed as it was worn and broken. The customer commented that without her wedding ring, she felt naked. The absent ring left an indent upon her finger, a band of pale skin. Along this naked ravine now flowed an agitated emotional state. Her sense of loss made me consider how we tether ourselves to objects and how their material forces take possession of us.

While seemingly inconsequential remarks pass between customers and shop workers all day as polite conversation, this small confession endured beyond the moment. The woman, now a figment of my imagination, has become emblematic. Sticky Correspondence: An animist design encounter was catalysed and conceptualised within the retail space. I questioned how I could design a space that activates the intimate distance between the subject and object within the public sphere.

Through conversations with materials, I opened my imagination to an interconnected world where the boundary between object and subject became obscured, and the animated qualities of materials revealed themselves. How does adopting a neo-animistic worldview enrich our experience of interconnectedness and material agency? This installation and research endeavours within the sticky cosmos of the Greek Orthodox Wedding Ceremony, where the wedding ring’s material animacy performs and subject/object relations manifest. Materials’ elemental narratives materialise through ritualised making and the design of sensory spatial encounters (devised in ritualised installations and spatialised artefacts). Attending to material vibrations unearths a sensory crescendo which has allowed me to begin understanding the sticky interrelatedness of all things.

Within this space, caramelised sugar is an alchemical symbol, a ritually saturated entity and an embodiment and agent of the binding and transformational properties of the wedding ring (metal). Its fluidity has become a method for communicating and reimagining the animacy and power of materials and a way to activate sticky correspondence between subjects and objects.

My installation work made of sugar and bronze is a series of objects, rings, ring trees, sugar columns and discs that transform in time and create sensory encounters for the viewer. The Wedding Breakfast table is adorned with sugar glazed bronze ring trees which drip and melt into the chaotics of desire and feasting. The weight of the tethered bronze Sugar Rings is experienced by the viewer trying on and wearing the work (the objects weighing the participants down). The Viel/suspended sugar columns stretch and fold over the course of the installation, creating a state of anticipation that draws and submerges the audience within its sticky milieu (an intimate view). Within my installation’s fluidic and sticky cosmos, foreign bodies (subjects and objects) become bound, married in sticky harmony.