Monday, April 03, 2006

ACDC (Art Center Design Conference) 2006 - Keynote (3/23)

Opened by Richard Koshalek, introductory remarks by Chee Pearlman, keynote by Adam Gopnik, closing speech/performance by Ricky Jay

Vapor Wall

Chee Pearlman, Guest Program Director

Mars Rover was inspiration for ACDC: handmade, bespoke, handcraft + technology - it was a "radical craft"!

Craft is degraded in our culture.

Yet, there is a premium on the "presence of the hand." (e.g., mango flowers, knotted chair, floral-shaped radiator)

Junk mail is "fake craft" vs note to "Anty Chee" from her niece

Cortex-hand connection is the root of inspiration.

Conference is full-engagement, deeply-immersive media. You can't change the channel.

Adam Gopnik gives the keynote

Adam Gopnik, staff writer, New Yorker

Definition, history, future

We have an enormous attraction to objects but not a good vocabulary to talk about things, design, craft - "the tchotchke challenge"

Arts & craft dichotomy analogous to "coffee and tea" - craft is "uncaffeinated"

History: Design objects have been leaders as well as followers
- Renaissance: craftsmen stopped thinking of themselves as craftsmen/artisans but instead as rivals to architects, poets etc (from craft to "inspiring artist")
- Modernism: craft as medium for higher expression, springboard for true art

Tension: We like the skill, technique, manual aspects associated with craft, but we also like that it's sincere, simple, primitive (skill vs sophistication)

Future: All craft activites are inherently radical (not just aesthetic)

What is craft?
- Practice of making things that have function ("basic") in addition to beauty
- "imagination alloyed by function"

Role of radical craft
- simple things to help us restore our humanity (utopian tool)
- mere craft has been real innovators of art
e.g. Rikfeld (sp.) (furniture) vs Piet Mondrian

Low craft as radical craft
- hobbies!
- as mental workers we need to be balanced by "lowly" hobby (e.g., Einstein played violin)

Adam's hobby is cooking
- something you can only learn by doing
- not conceptual, intellectual
- being mindful w/o thinking abstractly
- being intelligent w/o being intellectual
(sounds like he's talking about FLOW)
- Zen, now, lifted above

For Producers: Craft as antidote to abstraction
- least susceptible to ideology (e.g., Shakers' radical theology gave them setting to reshape craft)

For Users: Radical craft provides escape from abstraction, ideology to the now, real
- not just new, exciting but spiritual
- moving from "self" to "service"

!When we admire craft, we're admiring the erasure of the line between style and function

Radicalism lies in the relationship between producer, object and user
- being mindful of the problem at hand, when we make, when we perceive and use

Successful solutions proliferate more successful solutions (e.g., 2-blade razor has become 5-blade razor)

I admit, he referred to many artists I didn't recognize, and, the history was starting to bore me.

Ricky Jay attacking watermelon with deadly throwing playing cards

Ricky Jay, Conjuring Up Close

History of the "harms race" of magicians, how they put themselves in increasingly extreme (radical) positions in order to gain notoriety (decapitations, bullet-catching, crucifixions)
- Book: "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women"

Finally, did card tricks!