RSSTwitter

Craft, Technology and Productions:
What We Learned and Where to Go Next

Steffi Duarte & Caterina Tiezzi

 

This is it: our last article on CTP. For this occasion it seems appropriate to revisit the initial questions that motivated us to undertake this year-long investigation. A key lesson we have learned by examining different productions is that the commonly perceived dichotomy between craft and technology crumbles to reveal instead a interwoven relation. Through 11 posts we have explored this, but what else have we learned?

‘Fabelwesen’ or Basilisk, Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch, (1806). Image © Wikimedia Commons

‘Fabelwesen’ or Basilisk, Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch, (1806). Image © Wikimedia Commons.

Textile sample by Edmund Potter & Co., 1881. BT 43/340, The National Archives. Image © Jo Tierney, 2014.

Textile sample by Edmund Potter & Co., 1881. BT 43/340, The National Archives. Image © Jo Tierney, 2014.

Wall Label. Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2013.

Wall Label. Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2013.

The relation between craft and technology is not limited to a specific time period, or geography. As showed in Annie Thwaite’s article on alchemists’ quest for the production of gold, and Jo Tierney’s piece on Edmund Potter’s textiles, the synergetic relation between craft and technology was present well through the Early Modern and Victorian periods. Likewise, discussions of craft and production go well beyond Europe. They can also be seen, for example, in the strong traditions of Japanese Mingei’s theories and practices, as the exhibition at Pace London reminded us.

The Future was/is here. Sign at entrance to exhibition. ©Steffi Duarte and Caterina Tiezzi, 2013

The Future was/is here. Sign at entrance to exhibition. ©Steffi Duarte and Caterina Tiezzi, 2013

Mental Image: The Software Craftsman, Drawing © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

Mental Image: The Software Craftsman, Drawing © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

A detail of the ‘3D Printing the Future” display: figures made of scans of the exhibition’s visitors, Image @ Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

A detail of the ‘3D Printing the Future” display: figures made of scans of the exhibition’s visitors, Image @ Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

Another avenue we explored has to do with the future developments of craft and technology. As the exhibition held at the Design Museum – The Future is Here – proposed along with our explorations of the development of software craftsmanship, and additive manufacturing methods, new partnerships between technology and craft have already started to form. These articles also revealed how relatively new methodologies have been largely appropriated by industries. Yet, developments have been such that more and more single users are now able to design and print from their own desktops. Moreover as Elodie Mallet’s “The end of meta-narration and the DIY Trend” and Steffi Duarte’s “Changing relationships: A tale of mass produced cameras” suggest, while we look to the future, it may be worth revisiting older instances of user experience and DIY.

Drawing for Super Lamp (1981), By Martine Bédin, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1177230/drawing-for-super-lamp-1981-design-martine-bedin/#. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Drawing for Super Lamp (1981), By Martine Bédin, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1177230/drawing-for-super-lamp-1981-design-martine-bedin/#. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Kodak’s Bantam special. Image © Steffi Duarte, 2013.

Kodak’s Bantam special. Image © Steffi Duarte, 2013.

There are also many ways of learning about craft, technology, and productions first hand.  One approach explored by Caterina Tiezzi in her articles on calligraphy and trips to the newsagents, emphasised field research. Alternatively, CTP can provide new angles through which to question familiar sources, as Steffi Duarte demonstrated when revisiting the V&A’s photographic collection.

Practicing “writing” the alphabet. Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

Practicing “writing” the alphabet. Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

A craft-centred and a technology-related magazine seen side by side, (on my desk): they are more rare a pair than you might think! Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

A craft-centred and a technology-related magazine seen side by side, (on my desk): they are more rare a pair than you might think! Image © Caterina Tiezzi, 2014.

Anna Atkins, Papaver Orientale; Poppy, from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns, 1852-1854, cyanotype, Museum no. PH.381-1961. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Anna Atkins, Papaver Orientale; Poppy, from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns, 1852-1854, cyanotype, Museum no. PH.381-1961. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Yet with all that we have learned there is still plenty to discuss. For example craft and technology as seen in the design of food, or in haute couture, or politics.[1] While we wish we could continue with our explorations, time has come to let a new crop of bright minds carry out their own enquiries (stay tuned for the new Unmaking Things site!) Before we leave, however, we will point you to some excellent readings that might further satisfy your CTP curiosity. Please see the suggested readings section below.

Finally, it has been a real privilege to discuss our questions on craft, technology and production with you. We would like to reserve our last thanks to all our contributors whom have challenged and surprised us with their observations and research. 

– Steffi and Caterina.

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[1] Some sources worth exploring are:

-Zenia Malmer and Ning Huang, The Cabinet of Culinary Curiosities, http://unmakingthings.rca.ac.uk/2014/the-columns/the-cabinet-of-culinary-curiosities/.

-Bell, Nicholas R, 40 Under 40: Craft Futures (Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012).

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Suggested Readings:

– Adamson, Glenn, The Craft Reader (Oxford: Berg, 2010).

– Charny, Daniel, Power of Making: The Case for Making and Skills (London: V&A Publishing, 2011).

– Hanks, Craig, Technology and Values: Essential Readings (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

– Kelly, Kevin, What Technology Wants (New York; London: Viking, 2010).

– Marsh, Peter, The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalisation and the End of Mass Production (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).

– The Journal of Modern Craft, Ed.s Adamson, Glenn, Edward S. Cooke, and Tanya Harrod (London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury Publishing).

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Steffi Duarte –

Prior to entering the course, Steffi received her undergraduate degree in Financial Economics and Art History at the University of Rochester. One fateful day at the RCA/V&A a lecture introduced her to craft theory, and it has occupied her thoughts ever since. In addition to craft, her days are spent writing on the role of material culture and graphics in the global struggle against apartheid.

Caterina Tiezzi –

Caterina graduated with a BA in Visual Studies from the California College of the Arts, in 2012. Having left the Bay Area, she’s been wandering through the land of History of Design, researching export sewing tables, and the design of payment cards. For her (now completed) MA dissertation she has analysed how elite women dressed for Royal Ascot, between 1895 and 1914, further enquiring on the social and economical importance of that act. Still, her interests in fashions, technology and advertising are ever present.

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© Steffi Duarte and Caterina, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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