17 May 2007

Crafty MySpace?

Yesterday I posted a request for ideas about how we can develop a web-based resource to network research students and other researchers in craft - and design (see The Unusual Suspects below).

John Marshall left a comment which I thought would be better profiled - and more widely read - if I posted it here:

Sounds like something that fits between a 'crafty' version of MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/ and the Make Blog: http://www.makezine.com/blog/ - MakerSpace?

Something that is more useful than: http://www.phdweblogs.net/ and looks and works more like: http://www.carbonmade.com/

Something like: We Make Craft Not Money: http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/ bolted onto CGTalk: http://forums.cgsociety.org/ ?

How about starting something around New Craft Future Voices - like automatically making everyone who registers a contributor to this blog? Having a BoingBoing for Craft: http://boingboing.net/ would certainly be a start...
Any other suggestions?

New Craft Blogs

Craft blogs are like buses - you wait ages for a new one to arrive, and suddenly five turn up all at once. Craft Victoria has launched five blogs, each of which explores a different 'slow notion' in craft.
  • What's in the making - " As a Slow Notion, this topic delves into the practical, aesthetic and moral dimensions of the craft process. In the spectrum of production, design refers to the conception and promotion, while making is the middle process that brings design into being. In late capitalism, making becomes ever more invisible. Our factories have gone to China. This has led to anxieties about skill-shortage in the West. Does it matter that we no longer make things? Does it matter how things are made -- whether they are made by hand or who makes them?"
  • Craft versus spectable - "This topic explores the broader role played by craft in opposition to modernity. In 1968 'Society of Spectacle' was developed as a critique of the escapist tendencies in popular culture. In the 21st century, it relates to the dominance of the screen, particularly as a device for flattening the world and reducing it to pure image. By contrast, the world of craft is something that locates us in the shared material world. Is craft a sanctuary of participation in a passive society of spectacle?"
  • The world of spin - "This topic explores (and celebrates) a craft process found in a wide variety of media. Spinning is an activity redolent with meaning, found in many contexts from fairy tales to religious meditation. In the crafts, it connects a wide range of activities, including spinning threads, throwing pots, turning wood, use of metal lathe and blowing glass. This is an opportunity to explore the creative dimension of the centrifugal process, including the feelings it expresses. What connects the different spinning processes found throughout world culture?"
  • Sources of enchantment - "This topic explores the places where artists and makers find inspiration for their work. In recent times, many Australian artists have used the mythological forest as a subject for their work, including owls, deer and wolves. In popular culture, the enchanted forest continues to be an enduring feature of successful films and books. Is this an escape from the reality of our fraught nature, or a deep connection to the founding myths of Western culture?"
  • Learn from Africa - "This topic touches on globalisation and the growing popularity of world culture. The South Project goes to Johannesburg in October 2007. This will be an opportunity to consider the legacy of African Renaissance, in particular the value of ubuntu (humanness) that has guided South Africa through its process of reconciliation. Africa features most often in the Western consciousness as a problem that needs to be fixed. What is the Western problem that might require an African solution?"
To be honest, they've been around for some months and have some interesting content.

16 May 2007

The Unusual Suspects

I recently had the pleasure to visit the Konstfack in Stockholm as external examiner for their MFA in Jewellery and Metalwork. Led by Professors Ruudt Peters and Karren Pontoppidan (third and fourth from left above) they are seen here wearing pieces by graduating student Sara BorgegÄrd (far left) which are shown in the current degree show. An excellent course with excellent students - and for overseas students there are no tuition fees, which is a refreshing take on the idea of public education.

What is also interesting is that the Konstfack is about to begin a doctoral programme in art and design. We had some discussions about this, and the need to better link up research students in craft disciplines worldwide. The recent conference in Izmir, Turkey of the European Academy of Design (EAD) - which I've blogged on elsewhere - also raised this issue. There were some very good papers presented by doctoral students, a number from craft disciplines. But there are few mechanisms in place to help them network together. There is the phd-design list, but this would appear more effective for networking supervisors than students. So Wolfgang Jonas is starting work on developing an on-line networking system for research students in design, which will be under the EAD umbrella, but open to all. Early in June he is holding a meeting to progress this idea, and is seeking suggestions for what is needed.

If you are a research student in craft - or a supervisor, or have even a passing interest in doctoral studies in craft - please leave a comment on what you would want from an online networking system. How could we learn from other social networking facilities? Is an email list sufficient? What resources would you like to see shared?

All your comments will be forwarded on and contribute to building something that helps create a worldwide research culture for craft.