Panel: Open Culture + Wearables
Craft does not mean made by hand, without tools or technology. It means made with care, with foresight, with skill and involvement. When craft is optimization for repeatability the process still relies on human judgment and is not completely computerized. E-textiles are an example of a modern craft, which produces technology itself in the form of wearable electronics but its production process relies heavily on crafts. Automated manufacturing methods for combining textiles and electronics simply do not exist yet. What will happen when the first PCB weaving machine hits the market? Will the craft in e-textiles survive? Craft, as opposed to automated manufacturing is a creative process with much room for error, innovation, expression and diversity. But it does not lend itself well to serving the needs of a population accustomed to mass-production. Will we become e-textile grandmothers, sewing LEDs onto t-shirts for our grandchildren while industry produces them in bulk? Will our grandchildren think of our creations as un-cool because they are handmade? When our skills become devalued because machines can replicate our work faster, cheaper and “better” we will still enjoy the craft process. But instead of sitting back to become e-textile grandmothers, perhaps competition from the machine will encourage us to move on. In accepting this challenge, the future master craftsperson needs to re-invent craft in order to maintain relevance and express the advantages of man over machine. In this paper we present a body of work created within the interdisciplinary field of e-textiles. We reflect on the introductory themes introduced in the abstract by detailing and analyzing our craft approach to building electronics as well as our explicitly open stance on documenting and sharing our techniques. We conclude with a discussion on what it could mean to become future craftspeople and pass on our trade.
- Since 2006 Mika Satomi & Hannah Perner-Wilson have collaborated forming the collective KOBAKANT. They explore the use of wearable technology as a medium for commenting on the social and technological aspects of today’s high-tech society. Conscious of wearability and questioning of functionality, they believe in the spirit of humoring technology and present a twisted criticism of the stereotypes it creates. For them technology exists to be hacked, DIYed and modified by everyone to fit their own needs and desires. In 2009, as research fellows at the Distance Lab in Scotland, KOBAKANT published an online database for their DIY wearable technology titled HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT. kobakant.at howtogetwhatyouwant.at
Full text (PDF) p. 2143-2149 [Title somewhat different]