Thinking Through Making 


“…the only way one can really know things - that is, from thievery inside of one’s being.- is through a process of self-discovery. To know things you have to grow into them, and let them grow in you, so that they become a part of who you are” (Ingold 2013, 1). 


Breaking Down Making 

First described in Making, Ingold initially constructs a foundation for his concept of, “The art of Inquiry” to be built upon by establishing some of his grievances with ethnography and discusses the debate between ethnography and anthropology. 

“Anthropology is studying with and learning from; it is carried forward in a process of life, and effects transformations within that process. Ethnography is a study of and learning about, its enduring products are recollective accounts which serves a documentary process” - Tim Ingold. 

While Ingold discusses thee differences between, there are similarities in their practice as well, most notably participate observation. However, the practice is implemented a bit differently with the anthropologist being with the participants and learning from them, while the ethnographer learns about their participants by making a study of them (ibid 5, own emphasis added). These distinctions of this practice reinforce a rather existential issue that Ingold summarises by stating that, “Human beings, according to science, are a species of nature, yet to be human is to transcend that nature” (Ingold P5). Since we are a conscious part of nature, that coexists with each other, we are able to observe ourselves, each other, and the world we live in. This kind of participation and observation is intrinsically linked and allows for a deeper understanding of each part, or in Ingold’s words, “one depends on the other” (ibid, own emphasis added). As the participating observer we are restricted in reaching a complete understanding due to the simple fact that we can only truly know something from a single perspective - our own. What I mean by this is that you could collect data ad infinitum, but you will never truly know the core of the other, in the same vein that the other will never truly know you. That said, to maximise the potential for understanding in the realms of this isolated view, we are best “knowing from the inside” (ibid 1); to favour learning from practice and immersing ourselves in the study - as opposed to learning only in theory from a distance - and invoke “the art of inquiry”. 


The Art of Inquiry 


“In the art of inquiry, the conduct of thought goes along with, and continuously answers to, the fluxes and flows of the materials with which we work. These materials think in us, as we through them” - Tim Ingold. 


As discussed by Dorner and Adamson in their respective works, they summarise what Ingold terms the ‘Art of Inquiry’ by explaining that a theorist will do their thinking in their head and then implement these thoughts in the world. Conversely, the craftsman will enable the knowledge residing in the material world to be brought forth through the process of their creative practice (Dorner 1994; Adamson 2007). The benefit of this method is that the process involved in bringing creations into being will carry with it invaluable knowledge of both the medium through which the craftsman is working with (music, painting, sculpting etc), as well as an insight into the practice itself. As Ingold puts it, “processes of making appear swallowed up in objects made; processes of seeing in images seen” (Ingold).



To briefly skirt back to the distinction between anthropology and ethnology earlier established, I placed emphasis on the former studying with and the latter being a study of. In his work titled Correspondence, Ingold believes we are often looking through the wrong end of the telescope when we are thinking of something; we should instead be thinking with: 


“The operative word, I think, should not be of but with. I would start from the postulate, then, that consciousness is always consciousness with, before it is ever consciousness of. Whereas ‘of-ness’ is intentional, ‘with-ness’, I would argue, is attentional. And what it sets up are relations not of intersubjectivity but correspondence” - Ingold (2017).


In a similar vein that ties in with my autoethnographic methodological framework, Ellis and Bochner establish, ‘one of their foundational constructs of autoethnography, (that) is, ‘‘thinking with’’ the stories’ (Gioia 2017). When we are thinking with our work - in my case, using my tunes and tales - this attentional act evokes lines of questioning to deepen our understanding of what we are researching, how it makes us feel, how our personal lives are related, and how it affects us (Ellis & Bochner 2016). This relates to the previously discussed triadic model of my autoethnographic approach where there is a symbiotic relationship of the three elements that feed off, and feed into, each other - working in correspondence with each other - all to the benefit of a casting a wider net in the vast oceans of knowledge. One final linguistic note to touch upon; the word use. Ingold raises his grievances with the neutering of words, often found in academic circles, that leads to the removal of any feelings associated with them. He feels scholars are doing themselves a disservice by manipulating the language they use in order to elevate the perception of their intellectual prowess. Ingold solidifies his argument on the detrimental impact this approach has on the choice of words: 


“…their force [academic words] annulled by a triple lock of suffixes: -ise, -ate, and –ion. Thus does ‘use’, for example, become ‘utilisation’. To use something, after all, is to draw it into your habitual (or usual) pattern of activity, so that both you and it become brothers-in-arms, working together to joint effect…Not so, however, with utilisation. For to utilise an object is to turn it to one’s benefit while holding it at a remove. It is to deny any affective involvement, or common feeling” - Ingold (2013).


As I mentioned in Me, My Music & I, we are often limited by language to effectively articulate the knowledge we have gained, so I am of the disposition that we should be making our research as accessible as possible, instead of becoming esoteric gatekeepers. All of this is in the effort to engage with as many as others as possible so that different perspectives are involved that will provide alternative viewpoints and make significant contributions to the conversation. 


The Hylomorphic model 

Broken down into its etymological Greek roots, hyle (matter) and morphe (form), the hylomorphic model of creation has been discussed since the days of Aristotle. In Western history of art, this model has often been referenced as the means of creating any thing by combining form and matter. To relate this to my method of ‘Thinking Through Making' I will begin with Ingold’s issue with the imbalance found in this model, “Form came to be seen as imposed by an agent with a particular design in mind, while matter, thus rendered passive and inert, became that which was imposed upon” (Ingold). Further to this, Deleuze and Guattari would rather disregard the model entirely and instead put ontology in it’s place for it, “assigns primacy to the processes of formation as against their final products, and to the flows and transformations of materials as against states of matter”. 


Closing Thoughts 

To circle back to the reductive logic of the hylomorphic model of creation, Ingold offers an alternative that I feel is more appropriate and in alignment with music being in a state of flux: 


“For makers have to work in a world that does not stand still until the job is completed, and with materials that have properties of their own and are not necessarily predisposed to fall into the shapes required of them, let alone to stay in them indefinitely” (Ingold and Hallam 2007). 


From this, Ingold refers again to the works of Deleuze and Guattari and their insistence that when we encounter matter it is not inert, but rather is “matter in movement”, or what they call ‘“matter-flow” (2004). Ingold then puts his on spin on this by imploring us, “to follow the materials”(Ingold, 2007), and this is what I have attempted to do while I have been making this project; I have followed where my materials in flux have led me and gleaned what I can from the them to grant myself a better understanding of my creative practice in the pursuit of knowing when a piece of music is finished. It has been from this method combined with my methodology that I have been able to develop the ideas in this research project that I would have otherwise missed had I not been Thinking Through Making.