The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur is a fascintating article in The Atlantic by William Deresiewicz on the history and market forces that have transformed craft based artists and artisans into business facing creatives.
Computers are essential to new means and methods in design as everywhere else in the world today. This goes without question and I believe we need no further argument to justify their place. But we can argue about where, when and how much. As a design educator, I am very concerned by what I see in the classroom/studio. Basic sensitivities to form, material, scale and ergonomics are in decline. Students are easily and heavily seduced by the computer’s capacity to deliver images that gleam and glisten on screen, regardless of how they might one day feel and work in the hand. This phenomenon is ironically worsened by the one-two punch of CAD programs coupled with robot printers that generate 3D models. The work of the robots makes it all too easy to create something that looks shelf and market ready, with little thought, little testing, and almost none of the essential hand to mind feedback that made our species uniquely capable of dreaming and building such a complex environment for ourselves. I use the computer and I use 3D printers. But I use them in careful conjunction with traditional studio skills that I am proud to have studied and mastered and I would never give a user a designed tool that I gave to a robot for production before deeply vetting its form and function with my own two hands. I am sincerely concerned about a future wherein we find ourselves manually bankrupt and beholden to technologies that undermine the very ingenuity and self-reliance that make us human. This article in the WSJ speaks to that with interesting data.
Cameron Tonkinwise has two heavy and fascinating pieces up on Medium– one here and another here– about this period of change in design and the opportunities for greater systems intervention. From the first: “Transition Design signals an ambition for design to play a role in larger scale social change. Faculty at the School of Design have started to speak about Transition Design in terms of the imperatives for change: the need to develop societies that resource themselves in more sustainable and equitable ways. We are developing an argument about why and how design plays a crucial role in the systems-level changes needed to develop more sustainable ways of living and working.” Read more…
Beautiful. Perfect craftsmanship. The dance within the negative space of the letterforms, with his left hand behind his back, is so elegant. Particularly on the S. Amazing stuff. (via someone on Facebook.)
This is huge. Watch the video. As a musician I’m intimately familiar with the process of having sound choked and severely limited as it travels out of the studio and into a digital format. Pono’s ability to reproduce the capacity of the studio and the artist’s intention will be revolutionary. Leave it to Neil Young. I love that man.
But the larger trend that I hope we’re seeing is the ability of the universe of digital tools to more seamlessly replicate the intentions of our very analog, human expressions. I am hoping that we can look at our place in technological time and say that for two decades we have been in the infancy of digital technology, a dark ages of gear headed, internal reflection, and that now we are moving away from a fixation on the tools themselves and how to use them and back to the creation of content that intimately suits our needs. The trend across devices is toward simple gestures, worn devices and integrated circuitry. Devices increasingly communicate with each other to anticipate human needs. And interfaces become increasingly minimal, reducing the complexity of user manuals and increasing reliance on user intuition. The trend is toward reducing the extent to which our person to person relationships are mitigated by our person to device relationships. It’s difficult but very important to remember that the point of design, and of art and music, is to improve human relationships. When people and design behaviors become too focused on the technology, the tool, the device, then design is failing.
The transition to digital has been clumsy and I have lamented the loss of many small experiences from the age of analog not long ago. Tape hiss. Vinyl noise. Static noise. Knobs and buttons with mechanical connections to solid state functionality. For millennials and many others, the accessibility of Arduino programming is– forgive the expression– a digital analog to these direct old interfaces and user experiences. Ultimately, the experience of creating analog artifacts from analog interfaces is not replicable via digital. But our increasing ability to replicate analog artifacts with digital technology increases the transparency of creative media and the joy of artistic expression.
It’s moving to watch the testimonials of so many revered artists after they step out of Neil Young’s Cadillac having heard Pono for the first time. It’s like getting a little of your life back.
Can’t wait to get mine. Read more about Pono here.