The work of art in the age of post-digital production: A study of the maker culture in Hong Kong
This research aims to investigate how digital fabrication technologies influence craft practices as part of the maker movement. It also aims to identify challenges and opportunities for professional and amateur makers involved in conventional craft practices.
The notion of craft has for a long time been closely tied to making objects using materials produced through handmade processes. It has often been seen as activities performed by two different groups of makers: professional artisans; and do-it-yourself (DIY) amateur hobbyists. However, the emergence of new digital fabrication technologies in recent years has brought a significant shift in the maker group and culture. With the new digital means of making objects, theoretically, anyone can customise and produce one’s own goods. The concept has been embodied through the maker movement which refers to a cultural trend that places a high value on making physical things using digital technologies and craft skills. The idea of digital craft has been present for the past two decades. Individual practitioners started producing work with hybrid craft techniques, and proved the potential benefits of digital craft in expanding creativity and appealing to a wider audience. However, examinations of how the new technologies will affect the craft community and modes of production and distribution in the craft industry have been scarce. In response, this research aims to investigate how digital fabrication technologies influence craft practices as part of the maker movement. It also aims to identify challenges and opportunities for professional and amateur makers involved in conventional craft practices. Explorative qualitative studies will be carried out through digital fabrication workshops with twenty local makers. Through participant observation, pre-workshop and post-workshop interviews, and artifact (workshop outcome) analysis, the purpose of the study is to explore how different groups of makers’ practice and value perceptions are changed by the introduction of new digital tools. Additionally, the study will address issues that need to be resolved in both practical and socio-cultural contexts. It is expected that the findings from the study will have implications for the following aspects: It will provide an understanding of the significance of maker culture as socio-cultural practices and as a means to foster creativity and related industries.
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