All That’s New

Craftspeople and artists repurpose industrial tools and materials for art and craft all the time. Some people hate it and protest that it’s neither art nor craft. I’d point out that modern artist paints owe more than a bit of thanks to industrial chemistry. Not too many woodshops lack a table saw, bandsaw or jointers. Most of us started out lacking these tools and know-how to prepare wood without them, but we don’t. Instead, we use our industrial technology to create wonderfully crafted boats and cabinets.
It’s a sort of egregious snobbery to look at a tool and say: it has no place in fine art or craft. The problem is that technology keeps on boisterously producing new widgets that push our borders far and wide. The challenge is fitting the latest and old into a common framework allowing both to work together.
Hot lead typography has been replaced by computerized fonts, kerning, and leading. Notice that the old terminology just moved over into the new technology. Thus, although typography is still with us, the technology of producing it has changed. The creation of new approaches to typography gave us Desktop publishing and computer-aided sign design. It was now possible to combine Gothic, Lucida, Palatino, and Goudy Old Style in one document; ouch! Knowing what worked well, design sense, and skill was important in distinguishing between the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just because you could do something might not be a sufficient reason for doing it. Most of us who adopted the new technology found that an overview of the history and aesthetics of design helped us avoid the excesses of doing something just because we could.
I’ll be accepting delivery of an industrial laser engraver and cutter soon. I first played around with a hobbyist grade tool to see what was possible in deciding to do this. I’ve also followed several crafting and art sites to see how others are faring in the new world created by technology. Like Desktop publishing, there is an enormous amount of doing it just because It can be done.
While creating an overview of what works and what doesn’t, some will become part of our craft and art toolsets, and some will fall off the map as useless.


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