Transmission in Motion


“I sweep as my mother swept; therefore, my mother sweeps as I am” – Jose Hopkins Brocq

Grabbing a broom and sweeping the floor is a simple and determined action. It is easy to place it in time and space. Then, sweeping the floor is an action like any other. Nevertheless, it is an action that is unique and universal, historical and forgettable, present and ubiquitous. Sweeping is an action that mimics and creates, produces and remembers. When my hand holds the broom I am mimicking my mother´s hand; my hand, for just one moment, becomes a metonym of her hand. I grab the stick as I think she once did. Can we say that sweeping the floor is a creative and/or reproductive action? Am I creating or imitating my mother’s (and many other’s) movements? Is there any difference between the two?

When sweeping the floor, I am expanding a notion of creativity embedded in history – the production of something historically “new”, something that has never done before. When quoting Nelson Wieman, Tim Ingold makes us focus on a different way of creativity. Creation is not only something apparently unique, as if I have invented a historically new way of sweeping, but it is rather an action that carries on through, without beginning or end.[1]  In this sense, creativity becomes a social force of not something a person does, but what the person undergoes: a process in which human beings do not create societies but, living socially, create themselves and one another.[2] Creativity becomes then a place we visit, a place we embody. Sweeping, is sweeping like my mother; it is creating myself and creating my mother as individual parts of a whole, as moving constructions. In this sense, the question of creativity as a non-historical construction — a “progress” through time, as an action that produces something “new”— can also become a question of consciousness. How do I become conscious and how is my consciousness different from my mother’s? How does my body, in its process of embodiment, knows that it is me and not my mother; but also my mother, who is performing and embodying this creative knowledge?

When Ingold brings Bergson into the conversation, he frames time as duration; not a succession of instants but the prolonging of the past into the actual,[3] into what it is being carried through. Bergson writes: “Duration is the continuous progress of the past which gnaws into the future and which swells as it advances”[4] Framing it as a trans-timed action within Ingold’s theorization, the sweeping of a floor, and with this perhaps any-body, is a creative production of living socially, of the overlapping of bodies that exceed their materiality.

[1] Ingold, Tim. The creativity of undergoing: 126

[2] Ingold: 127

[3] Ingold: 128

[4] Bergson, Henry. Creative Evolution: 4-5


  • Bay-Cheng, Sarah. “Theater is Media. Some Principles for a Digital Historiography of Performance.” Theater 42, no. 2 (2012): 27-41.
  • Bergson, Henry. Creative Evolution. London: Macmillan, 1911.
  • Ingold, Tim. “The creativity of undergoing.” Pragmatics & Cognition 22, no.1 (2014): 124-139.