The Hand and the Glove... ramblings about making.

Post Craft? Post Digital?

I took part in the excellent FutureEverything Festival in Manchester this weekend. I was invited to take part in a discussion titled 'Post Craft'.
Now I know what you're thinking, because that's exactly what I thought - what's that supposed to mean?
This is how the Festival described the notion:

"Post Craft
In an increasingly post-digital world, there is a move towards a pre-industrial landscape. Eased by global connectivity, cottage industries are sprouting up everywhere. People are creating their own products, services, and art. They are rediscovering the satisfaction of creating a tangible product, the process of making, the lessons from making by hand.
This session brings together four people working at the edge of craft — a leading practitioner in modern ceramics, a design researcher, an interaction designer and a curator — to look at what craft can learn from digital behaviours, and the lessons it has to offer.
Session presented by Andy Huntington, James Boardwell, Michael Eden and Sally Fort"

And there's the other phrase -'post-digital'. Sat here at the keyboard of my Mac, I didn't know that we live in a post-digital age, did you?

I can understand that people need more than screens and mice in their lives and there's an inbuilt desire to express our creativity through whittling sticks, gardening, even walking on the hills, but to call this era 'post-digital' is so far from the truth. We've hardly got started; in my particular field of Additive Manufacturing we have hardly scratched the surface. To paraphrase Geoff Hollington 'If this was the First Industrial Revolution, we are now in the year 1800'.
There is so much potential for this technology, it is going to change the way we think about many of the designed objects that surround us. It allows for individualisation, customisation, distributed manufacture, repair of broken equipment. The list goes on...
However, when I hear of the 3D printing of human organs I am both excited and concerned. Yes, it could help to solve the shortage of organ donors, but surely it's not such a huge step to then change the DNA of 'living' printed structures? After all the human genome is likely to be Open Source if it isn't already.
Or is this science fiction?

Anyway, back to 'Post Craft'.
Sally Fort, the chair of the panel, asked for our understanding of what the term means. There was some scratching of heads, but we all basically agreed that it doesn't exist.
Craft is Craft is Craft, regardless of the tools or technology the maker chooses to use. It's the idea that should be at the forefront of the maker's mind, not the tool. In my experience as a potter, the tools 'vanish' when I'm throwing a pot on the wheel. I'm trying to capture the energy of an action, the tension in a line. And it's those qualities that I try to achieve through the mouse in my recent work.
So for me, it's all about whittling voxels.
Having said that. I choose to use new technology because it allows me to create 'impossible' objects, ones that I can't make on the wheel or with other conventional methods.
But both the starting and end point is the story that I'm exploring and attempting to communicate.

If you would like to read more about the discussion follow this link to the mini-site that Sally published.

And if you haven't been to Manchester, I would highly recommend the place. OK it's wet, but it's a great 21st century European city that looks forward whilst embracing it's past. It has a really creative buzz, but without so many of the posers that you find in postcodes beginning with EC.