Networked_Performance

Reblogged What Is Manufacturing in the Era of Design-Art-Technology?

2109792202_5bd747374b.jpg(Essay for Share Festival Catalog 2008) (Here is my slide presentation, related to the essay below. But, I did not read this essay at the festival, rather it was printed in the festival catalog.)

There are a few things to say about manufacturing, design and digital arts. First, we’re not talking about manufacturing. Manufacturing is about making things on a large scale using machinery. Manufacturing evokes cavernous, cold, awesomely huge assembly lines with scales all out of proportion to the experiences of mere mortals. Factory floors throwing sparks, littered with metal shavings, huge overhead cranes moving impossibly large masses of steel – this is what manufacturing means. Half million ton crude oil-carrying super tankers are manufactured. The Airbus 380 is manufactured. Millions of Herman Miller Aeron Chairs are manufactured. Billions of cellular phones are manufactured. These things have meaning in the idiom of manufacturing. Manufacturing is the engine of growth and despair of the 20th century.

If anything, we’re talking about a kind of materialization of ideas. Slick connections between an your imagination, a circuit board and a 3D printer. It’s artful for its scale and personalization. Small-scale, passionate, individual ideas made material. Why is this different from manufacturing? Because manufacturing deals in enormous scales – scales of time, material, logistics, operational fortitude, finances, consumption of natural resources. Ultimately, manufacturing endeavors are impossible imbroglios of spin-doctors and reassurances, speculation, trust and hope as much as they are supply-train logistics and CAD systems. Just ask the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” team. Is it advanced avionics and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic skins or spin-control and renegotiated contracts that’ll make that perpetually delayed endeavor a success?

The sad consequences of manufacturing’s scale is that it defaults to the least common denominator. Manufacturing on a mass scale can only be an effective business enterprise when you make one thing that millions and millions of people are convinced they need to buy. Customization as a manufacturing process has not moved much beyond Henry Ford’s Model T color option – you can have any color, so long as it’s black. An iPod is an iPod is an iPod, hand-painting and laser etching not withstanding. True customization means materializing one’s own designs, one’s own imagination. This is where we begin.

PebbleWhat we are talking about are emerging “materialization” – not manufacturing – processes. What makes it worth talking about is that it is the power of creation that manufacturing is able to achieve, but done at an entirely different scale – quicker, cheaper, individually, with fewer intermediaries and fewer incumberances. This is the crucial element – there are fewer and less awkward hurdles, deals, negotiations and alliances to be formed in the process of materializing an idea. The power of the idea and its “moment” is not lost through the trials of enrolling people, machines, enterprises, financiers into your cause. It’s as if a sketch in a notebook can materialize immediately. No more fumbling around with awkward descriptions of your weird idea – let the material object speak for you.

What else can be said about this different kind of idea-manufacturing? How does it integreate with design and digital arts? It relies on “toolkits” consisting of digital software and hardware, fab machines, CNC “Robodrills” and 3D modeling. As importantly, the toolkits are also the far-flung networked communities of craftspeople and designers, artists and technologists sharing ideas and insights. The practical tradecraft starts from the bottom and works its way up. We’re familiar with the elements of this process, and the activities taking place in various corners of the digital arts and art-technology communities. This is an emerging practice informally taken up by thoughtful designer-tinkerers. It is a practice that will find greater adoption within more formal and conservative design, engineering and art communities as its significance is refined.

The “tooling” for this practice includes open-source firmware for inexpensive microcontroller-based kits like the Arduino; hacked Nintendo Wii controllers; low-cost, rapid-turnaround printed circuit board production houses; free development environments like Processing; online knowledge sharing communities; parts suppliers with no minimum orders, and so forth.

R0010539The “manufacturing process” is a kind of extended sketching activity. Ideas are first expressed informally, perhaps with a simple “wouldn’t it be cool if..?” question at a moment of inspiration. But the question should be answered – and it can be, often enough, with a quick pen drawing, some poking around the net for practical answers or to source some parts or other material – perhaps even finding other people who have asked the same question and thereby entering into conversations with all the other similarly inspired folks out there on the networks. In short order a refined, functional technology engine is created using small-scale surface mount printed circuit board techniques so as to fit within the refined contours of a fab’d surface model. Now you have a fully functioning materialization of your idea – much easier to answer that initial question with the real-deal. You can share it, put it in other people’s hands and work through the nuances of your idea.

What does this all mean for an emerging design-art-technology practice? At present, the evidence of something compelling centered around new interactions is indicated by a richly stocked cabinet of curios – expressive artifacts and objects that, like early Net Art, stitch together inputs and create expressive outputs. Only — and this is important – they do so off the computer screen, and with no keyboard and mouse. Rather, these expressive objects form their interactivity around physical actions that may include the Nabaztag’s articulating rabbit-like ears, or Clocky the coy alarm clocks that roll away when you try to hit the snooze button, or Maywa Denki’s punch-drunk dancing BitMan character. These are distinct kinds of digital objects that mix physical space, digital technology and design.

Engelbart Mouse PatentWe know that the art of digital media continues to emphasize the screen, the keyboard, the mouse and the network. The weak signals suggest kinds of design-art-technology that are growing tired of the screen. Digital art is ready to move beyond the confines that Douglas Englebart and his contemporaries created in 1968 with their patent line drawing depicting the now canonical assembly of keyboard, screen and mouse. If there is a “new materiality” to digital arts, it will emphasize material interactions in physical space, embodied experiences and contexts beyond the typically sedentary confines of the screen/keyboard/mouse/network assemblage.

For this new process to do something new, it must become a ployglot practice steered by undisciplinary craftspeople who believe in the possibility of creating fictional, unbelieveable, even preposterous objects that say as much about what they’re moving away from – the uninspired, least-common denominator landfill-destined plastic device – as they say about what sort of near future world we could have. What is emerging is an ability to make your own stuff – not just “skinning” your mobile or modding an MP3 player. Materializing ideas is about making your own – “whatever” – unanticipated, unknown, visionary, expressive things. It is not a manufacturing process. This is a process that requires multiple perspectives and multiple skills thoroughly mixing engineering-design-art into a hybrid sensibility. It is a process that’s strictly for trouble-makers and boundary crossers. Nothing expected and everything unexpected will come from this. [blogged by Julian Bleecker on Near Future Laboratory]


Mar 20, 16:11
Trackback URL

Leave a comment

Tags


calls + opps performance livestage exhibition installation networked mobile writings participatory locative media augmented/mixed reality event new media video interactive public net art conference virtual intervention distributed second life sound political technology narrative festival tactical lecture art + science conversation social networks social games history surveillance dance music workshop urban mapping collaboration live upgrade! reblog activist wearable immersive public/private data architecture platform body collective aesthetics environment systems city identity film visualization culture telematic wireless web 2.0 site-specific ecology place webcast open source tool software text research intermedia space community audio radio nature hybrid 3-D avatar e-literature audio/visual responsive presence pyschogeography interdisciplinary media object interview physical global/ization ubiquitous theory theater biotechnology relational play code archive bioart generative news DIY robotic light place-specific hacktivism synthetic p2p cinema remix education agency interface language im/material live cinema algorithmic labor copyright simulation mashup animation perception image free/libre software multimedia artificial motion tracking voice convergence streaming reenactment gift economy machinima emergence webcam cyberreality glitch DJ/VJ tv censorship ARG nonlinear tag transdisciplinary touch recycle asynchronous fabbing semantic web hypermedia chance synesthesia biopolitics tangible app social choreography gesture unconference forking 1
1 3-D activist aesthetics agency algorithmic animation app architecture archive ARG art + science artificial asynchronous audio audio/visual augmented/mixed reality avatar bioart biopolitics biotechnology body calls + opps censorship chance cinema city code collaboration collective community conference convergence conversation copyright culture cyberreality dance data distributed DIY DJ/VJ e-literature ecology education emergence environment event exhibition fabbing festival film forking free/libre software games generative gesture gift economy glitch global/ization hacktivism history hybrid hypermedia identity im/material image immersive installation interactive interdisciplinary interface intermedia intervention interview labor language lecture light live live cinema livestage locative media machinima mapping mashup media mobile motion tracking multimedia music narrative nature net art networked new media news nonlinear object open source p2p participatory perception performance physical place place-specific platform play political presence public public/private pyschogeography radio reblog recycle reenactment relational remix research responsive robotic second life semantic web simulation site-specific social social choreography social networks software sound space streaming surveillance synesthesia synthetic systems tactical tag tangible technology telematic text theater theory tool touch transdisciplinary tv ubiquitous unconference upgrade! urban video virtual visualization voice wearable web 2.0 webcam webcast wireless workshop writings

Archives

2020

Feb | Jan

2019

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2018

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2017

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2016

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2015

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2014

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2013

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2012

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2011

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2010

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2009

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2008

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2007

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2006

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2005

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul
Jun | May | Apr | Mar | Feb | Jan

2004

Dec | Nov | Oct | Sep | Aug | Jul

What is this?

Networked Performance (N_P) is a research blog that focuses on emerging network-enabled practice.
Read more...

RSS feeds

N_P offers several RSS feeds, either for specific tags or for all the posts. Click the top left RSS icon that appears on each page for its respective feed. What is an RSS feed?

Bloggers

F.Y.I.

Feed2Mobile
Networked
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.
New American Radio
Turbulence.org
Networked_Music_Review
Upgrade! Boston
Massachusetts Cultural Council
New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency
Thinking Blogger Award

Turbulence Works

These are some of the latest works commissioned by Turbulence.org's net art commission program.
[ openspace ] wilderness [meme.garden] A More Subtle Perplex A Temporary Memorial Project for Jobbers' Canyon Built with ConAgra Products A Travel Guide A.B.S.M.L. Ars Virtua Artist-in-Residence (AVAIR) (2007) Awkward_NYC besides, Bonding Energy Bronx Rhymes Cell Tagging Channel TWo: NY Condition:Used Constellation Over Playas Data Diaries Domain of Mount GreylockVideo Portal Eclipse Empire State Endgame: A Cold War Love Story Flight Lines From the Valley of the Deer FUJI spaces and other places Global Direct Google Variations Gothamberg Grafik Dynamo Grow Old Handheld Histories as Hyper-Monuments html_butoh I am unable to tell you I'm Not Stalking You; I'm Socializing iLib Shakespeare (the perturbed sonnet project) INTERP Invisible Influenced iPak - 10,000 songs, 10,000 images, 10,000 abuses iSkyTV Journal of Journal Performance Studies Killbox L-Carrier Les Belles Infidles look art Lumens My Beating Blog MYPOCKET No Time Machine Nothing Happens: a performance in three acts Nothing You Have Done Deserves Such Praise Oil Standard Panemoticon Peripheral n2: KEYBOARD Playing Duchamp Plazaville Psychographics: Consumer Survey Recollecting Adams School of Perpetual Training Searching for Michelle/SFM Self-Portrait Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China ShiftSpace Commissions Program Social Relay Mail Space Video Spectral Quartet Superfund365, A Site-A-Day text_ocean The Xanadu Hijack This and that thought. Touching Gravity 2/Tilt Tumbarumba Tweet 4 Action Urban Attractors and Private Distractors We Ping Good Things To Life Wikireuse Without A Trace WoodEar Word Market You Don't Know Me
More commissions