I have previously talked about lines and strings (red strings to be precise). Especially with all this focus on networks theories, they seem to be used everywhere (as symbols, metaphors etc.)- to give but an example, Tim Ingold’s book cover of his recent “Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture” sports 2 tied ropes.
But two of my favourite examples, when it comes to ropes, are a story and a sculptural element. The story belongs to Carol Stroheker (Director of the Center for Design Innovation, a multi-campus research center of the University of North Carolina system), who recalls how knots became part of her life (1). From her childhood, teaching her brother to tie his shoe laces, through her teens with her macrame designs, and to her adult years when she started using them in therapeutic/creative purposes as part of the Knot MIT Media Lab, knots followed her and became a means of expressing emotions, of creating connections and of devising new ways of solving old problems.
The second example is a traditional element of architecture, found on wooden churches (symbolising The Holy Trinity), wooden doors etc.: a twisted rope. While reading Elle Magazine, I came across an article in which the artist Mircea Cantor was talking about his first encounter with a rope on a church: “The church in my home town, Corbesti, was made of wood and encircled by a rope… As I kept going in Maramures and saw more of these, I was impressed and I tried to understand the reason, the symbol of rope (frânghia) which goes back a long way, to the times of Antiquity – from the ropes which tied the ceramic vessels to hold them in place, …to the strings that tie together, such as the sheaves of wheat, which have later been taken in heraldic images – the rope that ties the community. …” (2).
“There are things that are completely unimportant, and this is precisely why they are so interesting”- Hercule Poirot dixit. For me, ropes are just such an example: from less material ropes, like those which bring together or embody values that go beyond the material world, to invisible threads that create series (see Sartre’s people queuing up to a bus), or strings that tie packages in a consumer world, we are surrounded by plenty of examples. Small little details, which can tell grander stories if one is curious enough to unwoven the threads.
(1) Sherry Turkle 2011. Evocative Objects – Things We Think With. The MIT Press
(2) Elle (Romania), May 2013, p. 90.