Auerbach Figura Essay

Auerbach Figura Essay-64
Identified as patterns, figures, and numbers (subsets), such illustrations ostensibly managed the activities of a population of divided textile-factory workers: those who tied up the loom and those who shuttled the weft.

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Counting stitches as they followed the template, seamstresses interlaced or drew threads in and out of nets (for filet lace) and woven cloth (for eyelet embroidery).

Such a diagram figures the conditions in which the apparent femininity of lace production was systematized.

A method invented about 1677 in Germany by the master weaver Marx Ziegler recorded procedures for work at the loom.

Several models emerged about this time and would be improved throughout the eighteenth century.

Frederik Stjernfelt, by contrast, defines the diagram in accordance with the thought of Charles Sanders Peirce: “a skeleton-like sketch of its object in terms of [rational] relations between its parts.” In the sewing pattern, the body is without flesh.

It is a skeleton of thought, a mathematical machine.The three figures presented in this essay are textile diagrams: patterns for lace and embroidery, notation systems for loom weaving, and sewing diagrams.Each embodies the historical and economic conditions from which it emerges.Some models used grids, much like the earlier lace patterns, creating iconic representations of the woven pattern.Others were based on the mathematics of notation, an abstract system that detailed the loom’s tie-up arrangement and the sequence (or choreography) with which weavers were to shuttle the weft. Eventually, by the eighteenth century, this shorthand system would prevail in the weave draft, where spaces between vertical lines denote warp threads while spaces between horizontal lines denote the weft.It is a mathematically derived schematic, a diagram in the technical sense.But Auerbach notes that in “Lucretius’ doctrine of the structures that peel off things like membranes and float round in the air,” the word Thus, figures are at once plastic, technical, conceptual, and linguistic formulations.But we might also understand these images as devices of figuration, and more specifically, perhaps, as figures of thought., the anonymous author differentiated “Figures of Diction” (4.19-46) from “Figures of Thought” (4.47-69); while the former are identifiable in the language itself, the latter “belong in the pragmatic or situational and functional dimension of language”—that is, in the utterance (perhaps, we could say, the practice or labor of expression).But over time, the term took on new meanings, expressing “something living and dynamic, incomplete and playful.” The word became “quite unplastic” as it emerged in the overlap between different senses—seeing and hearing—as figures of diction and figures of thought overtook formal shapes.Seen in a later book, from 1529, the crosshatched background of certain Renaissance etchings inspired Schönsperger’s major innovation, “the idea of presenting his woodcut designs in black against a background of black-and-white cross-hatching.” The development of this diagram says a lot about the dynamic (and gendered assumptions) of this proto-industrial assemblage: of patterns, their printers, and the women who worked from them.For instance, in 1530, the Venetian printer Giovanni Andrea Vavassore initially published patterns that indicated stitches by dots, but as he was “told by several that women cannot work from freely-drawn patterns,” he later clarified the prints through the use of black squares, in order to suit a stricter economy of management and manufacture.


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