Textile heritage - Abstract

Capturing Our Cultural Intangible  Textile Heritage,
MoCap and Craft Technology

How do we decide to make things? How do we learn to make things?
The study of craft and craft production is fundamental for understanding the underlying causes for the complexity of ancient societies as well as traditional craft performed today. Craft and craft production can, in a broad sense, be said to meet the social and psychological needs of human beings, and facilitate social coherence. We will illuminate how the body and mind are involved in the production processes behind ancient and traditional textile technology and how this can be further explored by developing the use of 3D method, Motion Capture.

Spinning in MoCap
Spinning has been of the highest importance in all ancient societies, but also one of the most time consuming tasks. We have chosen to document, measure and study this important and complex textile activity, which we have done on the basis of spindles copied from Viking Age originals. These spindles would have been used for many purposes, including the production of sails for the longships. To produce a sail one would need to spin more than 200.000 meters of yarn. This would take more than 4000 hours  to spin! ... Spinning of yarn is a true test of your mind and body.

In the commercial sphere, Motion capture (MoCap) is famously used to develop videogames and movies. However, it is a useful method in several different research fields as well. MoCap is the process of recording the movement of objects or people in 3D. A MoCap system uses a multiple camera setup, but the cameras only work in the infrared spectrum and only record markers placed on the subject or tools used by the subject. This means it is possible to focus only on the parts of interest. Movements are sampled c. 250 times per second to capture all types of movements with high precision. With markers placed on the spinner’s body and the spindle, it gives us the possibility to see the spindle's movement. Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to study how the yarn is affected by a certain movement.

It is our expectation that this new knowledge will be applicable on archaeological textiles and give information on the craftsmanship in ancient societies and the spinner’s skills and abilities. 

Use and expectations
We believe this method permits new innovations when conducting and studying different craft experiments and recording craft processes. MoCap can enhance our knowledge of the complexity and variety of artifacts, their production, and how various craft traditions develop over time, yielding new insights and perspectives applicable to ancient societies as well as to traditional craft today.

It is our expectation that MoCap, combined with experimental archaeology and craft technology, will enable us to record movements of craftspeople today for a new understanding of tacit craft knowledge and craft practice in producing objects both ancient and modern.

MoCap can connect body and mind of today and of the past.

The project is a collaboration between Lund University Humanities Lab in Sweden, the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research and the Archaeological department, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen. The recordings were made at Lund University Humanities Lab Sweden.