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Thinking/Sinking into the Folds of Craft and the Digital Turn

Thinking/Sinking into the Folds of Craft and the Digital Turn

Heller, L, T. Crivellaro Grenier, D. Millerson and K. Morris. Thinking/Sinking into the Folds of Craft and the Digital Turn, 13th SAR Conference, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, DE, 2022

A sense of both the precariousness and promise of craft practice gained momentum during the pandemic. Digital reliance, a convenience before the crisis, became a necessity during enforced social isolation. Our current artistic research project, Thinking Through Craft and the Digital Turn, explores the synergies between craft and digital methodologies within Canadian post-secondary educational institutions. We are seeking to understand both the current and historical narratives that tell the story of craft’s relationship with and to digital tools, processes and networks. Can interdisciplinarity honour specific histories and hard-won knowledge as it melds, in particular craft and digitality?

To that end, we have created an extended reality visualization of historical and personal stories we have gathered from students and educators. We seek to convey the complexity of the relationship between craft and digitality as expressed through the data we have gathered. Layered LIDAR (light detection and ranging) measurements of locations in Canada and swaths of digital textiles are used to envision a landscape that envelops the viewer and allows a connection and alternate understanding of the gathered narratives. There has long been philosophical attention paid to the necessary complicity of materiality and imagining, however, rather than citing canonical references we look to the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude as a guiding light in this metaverse encounter. Their practice of using textile to transform landscape has helped us to envision ways of wrapping but also creating elaborate folds where previously little-known histories wait to be discovered. The perceptual experience of encountering stories, facts and objects through immersion encourages alternative hierarchies of knowledge acquisition. We seek to exceed the bounds of convention by communicating affect and sensation along with data, as we blend craft, artistic research, and digital space.

Image credit: Society for Artistic Research  

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