Creative Materiality

Mi You

A parable of a mythical emperor named Hundun (literally 'chaos') as recounted by Taoist philosopher Zhuang Zi (370-287 BCE):

There were two emperors who frequently entered the territory of emperor Hundun, and Hundun treated them very generously. They discussed how they could repay his kindness. ‘All men,’ they said, ‘have seven openings so they can see, hear, eat, and breathe. But Hundun alone doesn’t have any. Let’s try boring him some.’ Every day they bored another hole, and on the seventh day Hundun died.

When we conceive things, including our bodies, not as unitary, complete wholes but as an endlessly creative matter evolving in time, then they are in a state like Hundun's. Intelligence is assigned the task of contemplating this endlessly creative matter, organizing the unorganized, speaking the unspeakable, trying to capture the continuity which is nothing but the evolution of life. This is the moment when the opening of the holes (rationale, intelligence) causes an irreversible differentiation. Zhuang Zi pronounces the tragic death of Hundun, leaving the readers in their own journey of finding the Hundun moment in life. Yet something within creativity always exceeds the limit of capture, hence in the material tone of language we hear - in what we understand (mostly narrowly) of onomatopoeia - we are connected with the sheer emergence of the thing before it is captured in the signifying structure of language.

Keywords: creativity, process, materiality, language
Synonyms: material process
Antonyms: bifurcation, binarization
Hyponyms: intelligence, language

COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

Here you will find background material, current activities, calls for papers, working group information, and project outputs.

With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

News Show More

Information relating to activities undertaken, including conferences, training schools, short-term scientific missions, and annual meetings, are archived here.

Filter activities by:
Training School7

Show More
Working Groups

Working Groups focus on four key areas of research

Working Group One

Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

Working Group Two

New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

Working Group Three

New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more

Working Group Four

New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more


A space for COST Action members to share reading material and experiences.

Explore entries below or find out how to contribute here

COST Action IS1307

New Materialism —
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter’

An intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology
European Union
COST is supported by the the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

Website by Second Cousins