26 March 2006

Theo Jansen

I thought I would talk a little bit about Theo Jansen. (See the 'cream structure' picture taken at night)
The blurb in the brochure reads, " Trained as a scientist at the University of Delft in The Netherlands, Theo Jansen designs and builds immense wind propelled mechanical creatures that roam the beaches of Holland. His designs for multi-legged "sand beasts" are exceptionally agile because each leg is developed, tested and has "evolved" to rotate and lift independently with just the slightest of pull. Constructing hundreds of designs mostly from light PVC tubes, Jansen has never made the same creature twice, but continues to develop and optimise their leg movement through trivial and error, playing midwife to fantastical designs with each successive generation of his fast-evolving beasts."

Jansen uses PVC pipes that are used in Holland for electricicy cables and at times he uses cardboard or found materials. However he transforms these materials into something extraordinary, (moving sand beasts) that have no real purpose except to fascinate and excite the viewer. The movement of the structures are truly amazing, they move perfectly.

I wanted to talk about him because of all the presenters I think his work engaged everyone in the audience most. People were wowed. So what is radical here? I am not sure I can answer that, except to say that the structures were definately craft and definately art, they presented us with something our visual recognition had never seen before and because of this he amazed us. His work had a humbleness and simplicity, even though the structures were complex.


Radical Craft Continues

It's funny that sometimes our world really does seem small. When I told Erica Clark I had come from Dundee, she immediately replied "do you know Broughty Ferry?". She has friends that live there, and Tim Robbins of IDEO says 'hello" to Colin Burns.

Our world was the subject of Constance Adams presentation,(she works for NASA) and I think her presentation was about as radical as you get. She presented 'Crafting the Mothership, space architecture'. She explained that Earth is ONE complex organism and in order for earth to survive the organism must propagate. If earth is the mothership then spacecrafts should be sent out to propagate other environments.

This talk was great as it involved radical ideas in terms of how space exploration has forced 'makers' to rethink how they get something to work. She highlighted structures like soil, crystals and grains. Growing and living structures that are necessary for life. Structures that demonstrate the movement of life. What was really interesting is that she highlighted the need for natural methods and materials being used in order to sustain life, and how future visions look back to traditional roots.

More notes to follow..

25 March 2006

Radical Craft. Fridays speakers

O.K. my photos could be better, but the text is good!

Not sure how others at the conference are getting such good shots as I was 'pulled up' and informed that photography wasn't permitted in the conference. So here are some from outside, its hot and very sunny.

Its been an interesting day in terms of discussion. Everyone I have been talking to has commented that in many cases the speakers are using language that refers to both craft and design as one and the same. The terms 'Craft' and 'Design' appear to be interchangeable. However the first presenter, Dan Neil, (automotive journalist for the 'Los Angeles Times') really hit the spot I felt. He described the constant emails and letters he receives from 'garage technologists'. He explains that these guys tinker away for the love of it, and because they are trying to get something to work, or because they think they can improve on something that already exists. These garage inventors usually have a problem that is bugging them. so they plug away at it until they solve it and get a result (sounds familiar). Neil gave us a few examples, one of which included a guy who was looking for an alternative to ethinol. He came up with butanol, a cleaner substitute, (hope I have the right spelling) and in order to test 'butanol' he drove his car half way accross the country with "a trunk full of this explosive fuel and a dream". Neil explains that the garage inventor was genuine and passionate. Neil then showed us a computer drawing of a futuristic automobile, that he says looks almost the same as a futuristic car of the 1970's. Will they ever be built? he says not because they are not connected with the real world.

Well I have lots more to blog but my battery is running low....so until tomorrow

24 March 2006

Blogs on radical craft

In addition to Frances, there are one or two (at least) other people blogging from Radical Craft. I'll post other blogs as I find them, but in the meantime check out Chris Tung, unbeige, and hypercriticalwriting. There's also this piece in the LA Times.

Radical Craft Opening Conference

Its been a lovely warm evening in Pasadena to kick off the Radical Crafts conference. The conference itself taking place over the weekend in The Art Center College of Design. The venue is massive ( almost Rolling Stones concert proportions and FILLED with people) which is interesting. ( I wonder how many attendees and who?)

The most dynamic speaker to present was Adam Gopnik. He is a journalist who currently writes for The New Yorker and was previously the New Yorkers ' Paris correspondent'. His articles culminated in the book 'Paris to the Moon'.

Gopnik said that crafts are not ego driven, and that it is about making something that is useful for someone else. He says that there must be a need and a purpose. He suggests that Crafts need to abandon the 'Utopin World' philosophies, ( Morris and Bauhaus) because they failed. Instead Radical Craft is concerned with 'relationships', the maker, materials and the user. He says it is the combination of intellect, theories, hearts, minds and materials.

He simply presented good debating stuff!

Radical Craft Opening Conference

21 March 2006

Craft research blog

This blog has been established to support the Past, Present and Future Craft Practice research project. Initially it will be used as a means for Frances Stevenson to report back from the Radical Craft conference in Pasadena that she is attending from 24th March for two days. It is also a means of developing more transparency and discussion around the project.