Friday, 10 October 2014

MA Collaborative Project - Meeting/Notes

MA Project Meeting Minutes 
Date: 07/10/14     Time: 12 noon Location: MA Studio 
Attendees:  Allen, James, Lauren, Philippa (minutes taken by Philippa). 

The meeting took the form of a general discussion, with each attendee introducing their area of research and opening the floor for comment.  The discussion points in this document are written in the form of a stream of consciousness and are the springboard for more discussion - they are not final conclusions. 

Topic: Craft – general research with focus on the relationship with Art & Design and handmade in contract to technologically advanced. 
Handmade crafts are becoming more desirable and commercially available with increasing e-commerce opportunities. 
Practitioners that use digital technologies to support their craft call themselves craftsmen. 
Craft is often seen as the human side of design, allowing a personal interaction with objects and often offering a direct link between the maker and the consumer. Involvement with the product and making process is increasingly important to the consumer. 
Contemporary craft can leave behind traditional stereotypes of the hobbyist crafter and reconnect with traditional values of skill and involved design, where the piece created connects on a sensory level with the hands as well as with the head.  It also allows the maker to become a specialist in their field, working with particular materials or in a particular process. 
Discussion:Craft can be seen as a method of escape from technology and re-connecting with traditional hand making values, yet technology has given craft a new forum (selling on the internet and innovative production techniques), allowing more room for profit and a stronger connection with the consumer.  There can be a backlash from traditional crafts people, in particular disciplines that could be seen as redundant after CNC manufacturing.  There is an argument that the precision in machine lead craft takes the imperfection out of the craft, and that it is the imperfection that we see as a more human factor – it mimics the imperfection of human life [James cited Wrong Design – see his blog for details].  Technology can also be seen as stripping the material value from a product because of the fast processing.  
Examples:Cathy Miles – using play and collaboration 
Tim Ingold 

Topic:Collaboration – research into notable collaborations 
Discussion:Collaboration is a difficult topic to research out of context, especially due to the language barrier.  We conclude that more research needs to be done, perhaps using ‘round-up’ style websites such as Design Boom, to outline interesting collaborations (egScientists & Artists, multi-disciplinary collaboration within the arts and design fields). 

Topic:Materiality – focussing on relationships with materials through senses and interactivity. 
Materials can be used to promote human response through passive and interactive methods.  In the project ‘A body of skin’, material is used passively to cause an emotional response when the product is used by the consumer. Pink dyed leather is used to emulate human flesh and initiate an internal reaction akin to the skin-on-skin contact that is seen to be so important to newborn infants   
Interactive materials can also be used to evoke a connection to a product.  In the project ‘Mew’, fur fabric woven with conductive thread is used with a pressure plate to allow the user to stroke the object, which then measures this input and reacts by outputting a noise.  The ‘GER Mood Sweater’ also takes input from the human user, but in this case the sweater uses temperature changes in the wearer associated with mood change and reflects a colour onto the user with respect to their temperature – e.g. Blushing/embarrassment causes a temperature raise, read by the smart material in the sweater and producing a red light. 
Smart materials can also be used to highlight how technology affects our daily life.  X.Pose is a 3D printed corset that uses smart material that becomes transparent as the user transmits Meta data about themselves through mobile apps such as facebook and twitter. 
Though materiality and connection with materials can be heavily influenced by technology and smart materials through electronic feedback, more traditional materials can also evoke emotional connections through tactile feedback and novel usage. 
Discussion:Materiality and the concept of material value is increasingly important in contemporary craft, but often looses importance in other design areas such as furniture and product design.  Design trade shows such as 100% Design focussed heavily this year on re-purposing items such as floorboards, that had visible historic value (paint splatters, visible age etc) and juxtaposing them with brand new items in the home.  In terms of antiques, it is noted that things become more valuable with age often because of the skill involved with their creation; the contradiction to this is Victorian furniture which, though it has a more solid construction, is less valuable in monetary terms than modern cheap furniture as it is seen as out of fashion.  It was also during Victorian times that furniture began to be mass produced and so fashion trends became much more important, leading to the trend of “mass produced garbage” that we recognise in many objects nowadays.  Thus, we conclude that it is not only time that adds value to material, but that it also depends on the cyclic trends of fashion, and of course the specific qualities of the material itself, such as its rarity. 
Examples:‘A body of skin’ - Studio 9191 
‘Mew’ – Royal College of Art collaborative project 
X.Pose’ Xuedi Chen and Pedro G.C. Oliveira 
‘GER Mood Sweater’ - Kristin Neidlinger 

Topic:Technology – broad research into technologies effect on design 

Technology can be viewed in three distinct ways within the design sector; you can specialise in using technology, allowing it to be the starting point for all your projects; you can utilise technology to better your own work, allowing you to make things faster, make impossible objects etc; or you can reject it wholly. 

Though technology is seen as predominantly used in the virtual field (websites, 3D modelling), it can have both virtual and physical effects on design.  Projects such as interactive light displays that map on to the existing environments of a space, or Frog Technology’s room mapping concept allow a user to interact digitally with an environment in a physical sense in a seamless and intuitive manner – they make everyday objects digital.  On the other end of the spectrum, products like the Nike Fitband have no interactivity in the physical world but are made valuable by their ability to store information and profile the user in the digital world. 

Existing technology can also be hacked and re-purposed.  Using the example of the webcam that was hacked into an eye tracker, a commercially available eye-tracker would cost thousands of pounds to buy ordinarily, however a hacker repurposed a cheap webcam to do the same job for a vastly reduced price.  Value is transient in technology and is only limited by physical resource (e.g. precious metals used in components). 

Discussion:Technology in modern life is totally immersive; everyday objects now embed technology into our lives to a point where design teaching in education now needs to re-focus on traditional techniques to ensure that handcrafting skills are not lost.  The advent of rapid prototyping (3D printing included) could re-shape our world as it brings more power to the consumer – they can now be the creator as everything is attainable.  Could we imagine a future where shops are no longer needed as we can simply download patterns for our newest purchase and fabricate it at home?   

The most influential technology are the tech products that we use day-to-day; TVs, mobile phones and computers are all fully immersive – you can lose yourself using them, watching them and interacting socially with them as they are intrinsically intrusive and we feed them with personal information.  Crucially, there is no morality tied in to technology.  The anonymity that the internet can give us allows us to shed our regular social behaviour patterns; we can troll people, and the electronic servers hosting the internet will not judge us.  This could be what separates the “big bad” of technology from the morality of craft.  Technology does not have an intrinsic human aspect to it, it can take whatever form the user wants, whereas craft is moulded by a maker for human interaction. 

Examples: See James’ blog – he has also referenced and summarised key points from a number of interesting books 

From these notes and the information we have received via email from the post graduate students, we decided to go away and think about; how these notes interact with one another, where the interesting points are, if there are any recurring themes etc. Due to the fact two of the post graduate students couldn't attained, our plan was to then meet up on Thursday as a group and then decide where to take these finding.

MA Project Meeting Minutes 
Date: 09/10/14     Time: 2pm Location: 5th floor 514
Attendees:  Allen, James, Lauren, Philippa., Christine, Joanne

This meeting took place over a number of hours due to people schedules colliding. Therefore, it was impossible to take concise notes for exactly what was said, I will try and summarise.

Before we got on to the information within the project, due to time constraints, we had to work out how we would work moving forward. It was agreed that the full-time student would do the majority of the crafting of the presentation as we had more time and that the post graduate would contribute research, suggestions and ideas. This way we can be most effective with the free time the full-time students have. It's important to note that any work down by the full-time students, will be heavily influence by the part-timers and it will always be signed off by them before completion.

Next, we talked about the key influence in terms of Craft Materiality and Technology and how they we explored through; play, collaboration and craft.

These were the overriding themes as talked about by Christine:

Play:                    Trying things out 
                            Getting things wrong
                            Learning from those mistakes

Collaboration:    Between the maker and the creator
                           Between materials
                           Between technologies

Craft:                  Currently in a renaissance 
                           Liking traditional method, rather than using technology
                           The value in something that is crafted by hand

We then looked at machines and how even though they they can create amazing designs they are still limited, because they cannot make mistakes, learn and therefore improve and adapt. From this discussion point we came to the philosophical question of 'what does it mean to be creative?' and in that respect can you take creativity out of the hands of the humans even when using computers. After all, even if the computer makes the object or piece, the computer will have been programmed by the operator or operators.

This discussion point lead us in to the question; 'well that is the limits of our current technology, what if computers could not only be the tool by which something is designed and made, but they could also take on the task of creativity.'

This ultimately lead us into our field of enquiry; 'Machines as the creators' (working title)

At this point the meeting was broken up as the post grads had to leave for induction meetings. We then moved and continued the discussion further.

Meeting continued
Time: 2:30pm - 3:30pm Location: MA Studio 
Attendees: Allen, James, Lauren, Philippa

At this point we asked Clinton a question about what they expect from us in terms of a presentation, he said we need to:

Talk about the collaborative side of the project
Communicate our area of research and ideas to the audience effectively
Make sure it's not text heavy and break it down into key points
Talk about the resources we used

After speaking with the tutor and now we were happy with the topic, we wanted to pin down the presentation and how it would flow. We decide to look at the overview of the project first and then focus those areas into discussion points.

Machines as the creator: can machines be creative?

Overview Structure

  • Progress as a group
  • Past/present finding
  • Future prediction

Broken down further

Progress as a group

Here we will discuss how we worked, how we divided up work, our work methods, i.e.; email, blogs and pintrest. Then we are going to outline the key areas of research, Craft, Materiality, Technology, Sences, Collaboration, Play and who was assign to research them. This will lead on to what there key finding were. We have set a limit of 3- 5 key points, each only a couple of sentences long. 

Past/Present findings (to support our working title; 'Machines as the creator', YET TO BE DONE)

This section will be about the research we will do that supports our our questions; 
can machines be creative, learn, play, make mistakes, collaborate and adapt/thrive with the challenges those scenarios bring, what happens when you remove humans from the equation, how humans will interact with those creations and is it still art/craft/design and does it have the same value, what does that mean for designers/artists/craftsmen.

In terms of research for this we will find past and present examples to both prove and disprove our question, this should be through; book quotes, found images, articles, experiments, studies etc. We must remember it cannot be text heavy so any findings expressed in words must be bulleted or summarised.

Future prediction

Based on the research above we need to theorise where this is heading, what possible outcomes there might be and how that will affect society.

We have decided to leave this as our last line of enquiry and open this up as a discussion point during our informal presentation. 

Moving forward we have arrange to research the points in Past/Present Findings over the weekend and the full timers are meeting up on Monday morning to discuss and are going to start to pulling together the presentation based on our findings. The part-timers are going to send us their research before then so we have a selection of avenues of enquiry to go down.

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