Stephanie Britton, editor Artlink Magazine
Robyn Daw, artist & education officer,
Queensland Art Gallery
|As people spend more of their work and leisure with digital media, what
might be the future for those who produce objects in the 'old-fashioned' way? Can digital
media replace the craft object? Are there gaps in information technology that craft
practice will inevitably fill, no matter how sophisticated the machinery becomes?
One such gap is a proposed need for physical contact
with materials. But how important really is tactility? Craft can be enjoyed in
exhibitions, where touching is forbidden. This experience might be easily extended to the
small screen. The haptic sensation of walking around an object can be reproduced through
virtual reality. In fact, digital media provides greater access to the object, providing
an infinite number of views inside and outside, top and bottom. There is an ecological
responsiblity to reduce our production of material items, particularly those without
practical function. In order to continue production, craft requires a new defence.
The most important gap in information
technology is perhaps the body. Food will remain a physical experience. Contact with food
through vessels and implements may remain a venue for the crafted object. But, is this all
that's left for craft? It leaves nothing for public display, such as gallery exhibitions.
And what about production? Bodies will
still need fabrics to clothe them and jewels to adorn them. While such objects might still
have a place, do they need to be handmade? In a distant future, when fabric printers
become more sophisticated, anyone might go to a bureau and have their own designs realised
with little need for weaving skills.
Does progress represent the decline of
craft? Alternatively, how might craft grow with digital technology?