The term Craft Sciences refers to a unity of research conducted in different craft subjects. The first ever Biennial International Conference for the Craft Sciences was held from May 4–6, 2021, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. This event provided a platform for communicating craft research beyond the borders of faculties and disciplines and aimed to expose the breadth of topics, source material, methods, perspectives and results that reside in this field. Through collaboration with the University of Gothenburg’s Centre for Digital Humanities and Media Technology, the conference showcased novel ways to better elicit the performative and material nature of craft research. Therefore, the call for traditional research papers was supplemented with a request for filmed articles, interactive applications, demonstrations and exhibitions. The selected research contributions all passed a double-blind peer-review process. Conference proceedings are published in FORMAkademisk Journal in their entirety, and a limited selection of the contributions will form part of a special issue in the Craft Research Journal.
Review of BICCS 2021 by CFPR participants
The first ever Biennial International Conference for the Craft Sciences (BICCS) attracted approximately 200 participants, representing a diverse plethora of craft skills and disciplines. Although originally scheduled to take place in the beautiful city of Mariestad, at the Department of Conservation of the University of Gothenburg, BICCS was held entirely online, thus enabling participants from various locations in the world to gather and focus on the topic of Craft. Even though the planned diverse offering was somewhat restricted by the online format, the organization’s efforts in building digital alternatives to the planned physical experience offered ample opportunities to reflect on the theme.
The four keynote speakers were impressive, delivering thought-provoking, passionate presentations and insights: Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen); Camilla Groth (University of South-Eastern Norway); neuroscientists Riitta Hari, Veikko Jousmäki, and Veli-Matti Saarinen (Aalto University); and Bengt Molander (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology). The post-talk Q&A sessions after each of these were lively and provocative. On the second morning of the conference, there was a choice of attending one of four digital workshops, which explored various topics with small groups of 8–10 attendees. These included, Life with Materials; Waste Stories; The Craft of Cooking, Eating and Recipe Writing; and The Teaching of Traditional Crafts at Higher Education. An online exhibition, located on Instagram, and a range of filmed articles supplemented the traditional paper presentations and gave the conference a different dimension. Finally, there was a digital social event one evening, when we were treated to a song which had been crafted for the conference by the Norwegian based band, The Peer Reviewers.
The exploration of craft ranged from its place in society, politics and education, to how we communicate craft –methods to build a theory for practice – and covered craft’s broad nature and role in interdisciplinary research. Craft, in its many shapes and sizes, as Tim Ingold (2021) encapsulated in his presentation, is a key player in the making of a common world. In these challenging times, craft can act as an antidote, connecting us and grounding us. This conference, as a first of its kind, offered an insight into the various approaches to craft, through craft and on craft. A central theme addressed the question of how we can document craft approaches, share them in an increasingly digital audio-visual world, and adequately describe their impact on and value for today’s society. For conference presenters and attendees, and craft practitioners, BICCS offered a valuable contribution to the current debates surrounding craft in the 21st century. It was in itself a carefully crafted experience which inspired us all.
Ingold, T. (2021) The World in a Basket. Biennial International Conference for the Craft Sciences. Online, 4-6 May 2021.
CFPR Contributions and Presentations at BICCS 2021
Conversations between spaces and screens
This exhibition comprises four films that present an investigation of ‘Touch’ through the staging of an online event, planned previously as a physical one: 1. Touch Vignettes, 2. Familiar spaces 3. letterpress/noletterpressproject, 4. Ritual, guide, smoothing…
Through the accompanying exhibition talk we explore how creative practitioners’ event requirements can be drawn together to form a methodology for a cohesive online experience. Projects are exhibited (screened) that engage the practitioner across spaces and screens, inviting them to connect with their individual and collaborative tactile sensibilities and memories of touch through phenomenologically-based theories. Multiple practitioner perspectives are shown through reflective video and voice recordings. They relate their own and others experiences through evidencing work in progress, feedback sessions and conversations between pairs of practitioners working on their collaborative projects.
An investigation of growing crystals as a methodology for jewellery designers
Grown crystals are used for a range of novel innovations supporting a wide array of industries. Within the jewellery industry however, grown crystals are only used in a limited capacity and mainly as a surrogate for mined gemstones. This paper investigates the methodology of Crystal Growing Design, through conducting experiments testing four hypotheses developed around the practice. Through utilising a DIY approach the author investigates the opportunities and challenges presented by incorporating the methodology into her jewellery design practice. Sugar, alum and salt are experimented with to provide a theoretical experimentation of the methodology to justify the further incorporation and adaptation of more enhanced growing processes as used for the growing of gemstone quality crystals.
Three Observations on filming Tactility and Movement in Crafts-based Practices
This film makes three observations on the filming of tactility and movement in order to adequately convey tacit knowledge in embodied ways. The author, Wuon-Gean Ho, studied the craft of traditional woodblock printmaking in Japan, and demonstrates planning, carving and printing of a woodblock print.
The first observation is that an alteration of the time-base of the film and subsequent manipulation of the soundscape can provide embodied affects. Secondly the film refers to the effect of mirror-touch-synaesthesia with close macro shots and intimate angles. Thirdly, the use of a birds’ eye point of view, with the hands of the artist in the same anatomical position as the viewers’ hands, enables the gaze of the viewer to mimic that of the maker, conveying haptic knowledge through poetic means.
The voiceover to the film is made with deliberate reference to ASMR videos that engender a sense of intimacy from the softly spoken words and gentle movements shown in close proximity to the screen. The non-objectivity of the recording process is commented upon. The conclusion is that constructed scenarios might convey more than real-time truthful indexical footage.