Two Day Conference, 10/11th July 2014 Falmouth University, Cornwall
The digital crafters in the Autonomatic Research Group at Falmouth University invite you to join them in critical debate about a radically transformed vision of 21st century production. In this brave new world of Makerspaces and Fablabs anyone can be a digital craftpreneur, harnessing the power of digital technologies to create, co-create, collaborate, make and sell.
Aimed at makers and researchers of all shapes and codes including hackers, crafters, inventors, designers, economists, curators and critical theorists, this two day conference will explore craft values, traditional making processes and novel forms of engagement, participation and interaction in digital and material cultures.
We welcome contributions from both within and beyond the field of craft.
The public response to the UK Crafts Council’s Power of Making exhibition in collaboration with the V&A in 2011 revealed a huge amount of interest in making in the 21st century. It provided insight into the richness and complexity of contemporary craftsmanship and highlighted the growing accessibility of digital manufacturing technologies, showing DIY machines that makers could keep in their sheds. In his 2012 book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, Chris Anderson proposes that the combined use of digital production tools and the internet have radically transformed designing, making, selling and buying. Virtually anyone can be a successful maker, starting their business from their own environment and driving it out into the global digital economy. The Future is Here exhibition at The Design Museum in 2013 and the Science Museum’s current show, 3D: printing the future, both re-enforce the potential to realise innovation rooted in individuals’ ideas through the interconnectivity of digital production and the world wide web.
All Makers Now?, a two day conference at Falmouth University organised by the award-winning Autonomatic Research Group will raise questions about how, where and why the complex and subtly nuanced characteristics of craft merge with those of digital production, rapid prototyping and the superfast information highway. A vision of a world in which anyone can be a maker and an entrepreneur raises questions about the value of craft in 21st century production, enabling an exploration of its significance within a variety of disciplines and communities, and opening up new perspectives on its role in facing current social, economic and environmental challenges.
Contributions are invited within three interconnected themes: ’Materiality and Aesthetics‘, ’Enhancing the Object‘ and ’Democratising Technology’.
Lost in translation?
Craft practitioners have long established and well recognised expertise in the inter-relationships of material, technology and aesthetics, ie in making meaningful and beautiful physical objects through the skilled use of tools. Within this conference theme we would like to explore the impact of the new industrial revolution on the aesthetics and materiality of 21st century production and specifically the role that craft values and craftsmanship have to play in a culture of digital making. We invite papers and provocative objects that describe, explore, explode and critique the following:
- The opportunities arising for developing new aesthetic qualities through the use of digital tools
- The significance of materiality, physicality and aesthetics in digital production
- The opportunities for craft practitioners to contribute to developing technologies and/or to make their own digital tools
- The role of craft practitioners in interdisciplinary teams and collaborative research projects
- The opportunities and limitations for meaningful interactions and new forms of aesthetic through combining web based interaction and digital production
- The capabilities of code and generative systems to enable material aesthetic output
- The value of craft skills and material understanding in developing human computer interfaces and understanding human relationships with physical objects
- The poetics and craftsmanship of object making in the realm of pervasive media and the Internet of Things
Bells and whistles?
Interactive technologies and digital resources provide unique opportunities to enhance material objects and create new forms of audience interpretation and engagement. The curatorial, interpretive and interactive potential of digitally networked objects is currently a source of significant innovation and experimentation in craft, art, design and heritage.
This theme explores the potential of new technologies and digital resources to enhance and transform material objects in diverse ways. We are particularly interested in how objects can be designed, enriched or re-assessed through networked digital technologies and associated online content, enabling interaction, participation, cooperation and collaboration in a variety of contexts. Combining objects with the capabilities of digital connectivity presents a range of exciting design challenges including developing understanding of the sophistication and digital literacy of audiences, and opportunities for innovative creative responses that allow users to create their own experiences and perhaps even their own objects.
We are interested in work that explores the development of digitally enhanced objects in the contexts of museums, archives and heritage; healthcare, wellbeing and sustainability; and more generally in extending and developing user experience and value in crafted objects. This includes, for example, crafted pieces with an interactive element, exhibits linked to interpretive resources, and tools that support the conservation of objects and collections. The authenticity of the object and resilience through digital conservation are among the issues raised.
We invite contributions that describe, explore and critique activities and issues in the following areas of interest:
- Opportunities for crafted objects and installations that extend participation and interaction, and develop new value through digital means.
- The evaluation of audience participation and conduct developed by and through digitally networked objects.
- The impact of digitally enhancing artefacts on the audiences’ direct experience and relationship with the object as the primary focus of their attention.
- Examples of interdisciplinary collaborative practices that have enabled successful outcomes.
- The opportunities arising from increasingly affordable and accessible technologies that provide low cost, flexible solutions for users, curators, artists, designers and crafts practitioners.
- Audiences creating their own interpretive responses, constructing stories and reconfiguring content.
All together now?
The world of making is changing. A loose collection of individuals, groups and communities including, hackers, tinkerers, fabbers, and crafters, are emerging as something that can be identified as the ‘Maker Movement’, reflecting an increasing number of people’s desire to be defined through being creatively productive. Electronics and embroidery, ceramics and computing, printing and programming have become unexpected bedfellows.
Increasingly accessible and affordable digital technologies are central to a resurgence in making, opening up new opportunities for people to design, make, share, test, learn and sell in a global community. Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Hackerspaces and other types of open workshops bring different approaches to providing access and support in using a flexible and powerful digital toolset. Through this open provision of production capabilities that until recently were only accessible through industry or university research units, the Maker Movement claim to be lowering barriers and side-stepping gatekeepers, enabling people to ‘make almost anything’.
This theme will raise questions about the activities, aspirations and claims of the Maker Movement and the wider community of innovators and practitioners, with particular emphasis on the role of digital production and digital media technologies in empowering people.
We invite contributions that describe, explore and critique activities and issues within this area. Particular areas of interest could include, but are certainly not restricted to:
- Challenges to traditional modes of production and consumption.
- Tensions between autonomy and/or individual self-reliance and opportunities for collaboration and co-production.
- The potential for digital tools and resources to enable business innovation and enterprise through individual or group engagement.
- Projects that explore how maker communities can connect with and benefit individuals and groups with explicit needs.
- Historical parallels and economic perspectives on current developments e.g. the DIY movement, pre-industrial workshops, the Arts and Crafts movement
- Theoretical perspectives e.g. flexible specialisation, prosuming, disruptive technologies.
- The relationship between new making spaces and communities, and established craft guilds, studios and groups.
- Sustainable business models for community production labs and their users.
The conference is now open for the submission of extended abstracts in pdf format of 1000 words with illustrations for peer review. Alongside standard papers, we welcome submissions in which an object or series of objects are the main focus, supported by a critical commentary of relevance to conference themes. Submissions should reflect recent developments in research and practice.
All Makers Now? is a conference concerned with object making and we are currently developing an exhibition of work. Submissions should clearly indicate if an object is being offered for exhibition.
If you would like to propose a workshop that fits with conference themes, please send your draft idea – 200 words approx. - as soon as possible.
Deadline for abstract submissions: 31st March 2014 (1000 words maximum)
Please submit abstracts and workshop proposals to: email@example.com
Pre-conference Makernow group Workshop 8/9th July
For two days prior to the conference we are running a team based digital making workshop in our Makernow space (www.makernow.org). The results of the workshop will be displayed as part of the broader conference exhibition to be held at Trelissick House, which is also the venue for the conference dinner (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick-garden/)
Projects can draw on digital resources and inspiration from the house and gardens at Trelissick, more details to come. The workshop will be free apart from the cost of the materials and consumables you use. There will be a very limited number of places so please register your interest here and we will contact you to discuss details over the next few months.