Curated by Max Fraser in partnership with the Crafts Council, Lab Craft: Digital Adventures in Contemporary Craft will look at the use of technology as an extension to the capabilities of the human hand at Tent London as part of the London Design Festival.
Lab Craft will challenge the relationship between the hand and machine in contemporary craft. It will focus on tangible outcomes through the examination of new practice, while exploring the impact of technology within craft practice and will feature the work of 26 designers including Tord Boontje and Michael Eden.
I had just this conversation with myself recently (at least I listen when I talk!) after making a few sales of items generated elsewhere but fulfilled thru Shapeways. These items I had never even seen, never had them printed for myself... and yet they were sold as items I had "created" (careful not to use the term 'handmade' there).
As far as I'm concerned items made by this process can be considered a craft. Does an artist who sends his clay model to a professional bronze caster not say that he is the 'creator' the 'artist' of the piece, when in fact the caster is just as skilled an artisan in producing the finished work of art...?
These are changing times for artists involved in making jewellery or fine art, just as the way digital painting has changed the way many artists now work, and digital photography has changed many aspects of work for photographers, so to is the computer (and related 3D printing technology) changing the way artists think and create.
There will always be a place for that one-off item that an artist took the time and skill to create... and of course can charge big money for... but anyone with a bit of design and computer skill is now able to produce works of art, often easier, ALSO as a one-off item (i.e. expensive to buy) OR available to the masses (i.e. cheaper): Something akin to the sale of PRINTS of a "real" painting. Not for nothing is this technology called 3D PRINTING...
I'm looking forward to see what others have to say in this matter.
I've seen this discussion go round a few times recently too, usually about what constitutes "handmade", but the same question comes up. Craft is a verb, and it is without exception something that requires a tool or a material of some sort (language being a tool too). A potter has a cheesewire, or a sharpened stick, or a wheel, a carpenter has a plane and a saw and a chisel, and few would say that they are not craftspeople. I have a sketchbook and a pen and a 3d modelling application - those are my tools. I don't consider the actual printing to be my craft (it belongs to the engineers and technicians who make it work), but producing a design that is external to yourself requires it to be crafted from bits or atoms.