Digital Technologies & Contemporary Craft

>An interesting article was put out by Craft Australia, Australia’s craft advocacy organization: US based artist and design professor Donald Fortescue comments on recent work by craftspeople in the US which embraces digital technology. He defines the notions of sensuality, narrative and anachronism in this work and argues that digital technology is congruent with the core values of the crafts. He concludes that the challenge for artists and designers is to understand and become fluent not only with the technologies themselves but the meanings they carry with them.

“There has been an interesting trend in the last 10 years or so for many contemporary craft artists in the US to incorporate what has been called ‘new’ or more strictly ‘digital’ technology in their work. This might seem at odds with the very definition of craft practice with its emphasis on ‘hand work’, the primacy of the sensual and the honoring of traditions and historical precedents…”

“The crafts are often seen as outmoded and behind the times, clinging to technologies somehow inappropriate or rendered quaint by the proliferating ‘new’ technologies. However, clay and glass drinking vessels have been part of human culture for thousands of years. How long will the PET bottle be around for?

Similarly digital technologies while having the glamor of new and cool are arguably more distinctly artifacts of a moment in time. Technologically attuned craft artists are re-contextualizing old and new technologies and in doing so questioning the values we attribute to each.”

Many of Donald’s points are made using images from the
recent exhibition The New Materiality – Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft at the Fuller Museum of Craft (Brockton, Massachusetts), including the work Virtual Novelist by Tim Tate.

Tim Tate, Virtual Novelist, 2008, Blown and Cast Glass, Electronic Components, Original Video,

Photographer: Anything Photographic

Click HERE to jump to Donald’s full review.

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