LOCAL MARKERS: Material Narratives Through Place-Based Design Research




LOCAL MARKERS: Material Narratives Through Place-Based Design Research




Researching through local materials has the capacity to produce results that are both emotional and functional. The source of the materials, when identified by the individual, imparts a subject-object impression, or marker of place. This marker of place, along with the makings of the matter, has the potential to generate a narrative of the past for the future. As a result, this practice-based research explores materiality through human experience. The research process is rooted in observing, collecting, making, and assembling materials, which are investigated to form a critical analysis that maps a connection to place. The series of material interactions represent singular experiences alongside a communal collection—a shared material story—within a local-global community.

The aim of this text is to show the ability of local materials, as defined by their provenance, attributes, and their natural ability, to create a material connection through a subject-object model. Within the two shared examples, (1) Point of Origin, led by the author from an collector-maker-curator approach combined with public interaction; and (2) Material Connections, led by the author from an educator-collaborator-designer approach, the storytelling is the emotional thread—a fascination of the ‘vital matter’ of the object—of what philosopher Jane Bennett refers to as the ‘thing power,’ whereby the “sense of a strange and incomplete commonality with the outside may induce vital materialists to treat non-humans—animals, plants, earth, even artefacts and commodities—more carefully, more strategically, more ecologically” (Bennet, 2010).

The handling of the materials to manifest outcomes, some presumed and others unforeseen, consists of trial and error using various methods of experimentation for ideation and reflection, giving value to the origin of the material and the intent of the designers.



Subject Terms

sense of place; local markers; human experience; education; storytelling

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Melanie McClintock, “LOCAL MARKERS: Material Narratives Through Place-Based Design Research,” CCS Research Repository, accessed May 18, 2024, https://omeka.collegeforcreativestudies.edu/items/show/4.

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