Yesterday afternoon I purchased £30 worth of mild steel box tube, 1.5mm thick and 12.5 x 12.5. It wont arrive until Friday or Monday, so in the mean time I have got to work.
The steel is to be used for constructing my sculptures. These based on my concept which is dealing with the exploration of form through structural systems. Steel is an appropriate material I think, dues to my experience using it allows me to show off my skills and also for its sculptural connotations, as a material it has a strong relationship to sculpture. My steel sculptures shall be welded and then have a ground finish (grinder), I am yet to decide on a further finish. The final surface finish could be shiny, textured, deliberately rusted, even blued as I did with my triangles ball/cloud sculpture. The surface is important. I recently realized the importance that surface qualities have when it was pointed out to me that I often talk about surfaces and planes as well as structure when I discuss my work. Presently I am unsure as to what my surface finishes shall be but I shall be conducting some more research into steel surface finishing and treatments to see if I can be inspired to come up with some interesting surface finishes. The surfaces will surely inform as much about the pieces as the structures themselves (which are my main focus currently).
I also bought some 6mm round bar (10 meters) from the School Stores to be getting on with one of my smaller structure sculptures. I chopped it all up into 30cm rods and then using a 60 degree angle jig and referring to my wood and glue model I set about welding the rod into a triangulated structure.
I started this blog post yesterday. This continues from there.
This morning I visited a scrap yard in Cathays on Woodville Road, just to check it out really. The bloke running in charge was helpful and friendly, the actual place is very small, apparently acting as a small local scrap collection with its larger sister counter part to be found in the industrial estate in Butetown, I think it was on Curran Road. There were big open top containers of scrap lining the walls. Aluminium, lots of copper and brass, thick copper cable and car batteries and steel and all the rest of it. The copper was of particular interest, there where several old bashed up water tanks made from spun copper that had intact bowl like bottoms, the like of which I have used in the past to enamel. This is exciting, a viable source for me to get copper bowls and dishes to continue my series of enameled bowl work. This may need to be held back until my show work is further along however.
Whilst at the scrap yard the delivery man who was dropping my steel off at uni called to say he was on his way. I raced back to uni and managed to catch him in time. The steel is now waiting to be cut next Monday, I am in the process of deciding what lengths I want to use and what size I want it to end up being.
Today I managed to finish the 6mm rod sculpture (pictured above), welding it together at least. I gave it a quick brush and then a quick sand blast to clean it up. I need to grind the welds back to smooth them out and make them a bit more neat and pleasing to look at. I will use a Dremel with sanding bobbins was well as mini grind disks to do this as the angle grinder is to large to get into those nooks and crannies. So next Monday shall see the morning spent cleaning the rod sculpture and the afternoon cutting the box tube to size and then cleaned ready for welding.
My work for my final show has evolved to focus on structural systems and surface as a means for producing sculpture that explores form, line and volume, spacial qualities and the transgression of an idea/data/structure through various forms, abstractions and focuses.
Whilst thinking on structural systems I thought of Adhocism. I attended a symposium called Ceramics and New Technologies, at the Holburne Museum on the 26th of February. There the artist Micheal Eden, the keynote speaker spoke about his interest in the history of the human hand, how it represented millenia of skills built upon by man. The nature of technology and craft – cultivation, trial and error, imagination and hard work followed. He spoke of platonic solids as building blocks of all matter, (in a specific context that I have since forgotten) which resonated with me particularly, for it relates well to my work. Then he spoke for several minutes about adhocism and its influences on his work, making an example of the bicycle as an example of work that is added to, build upon over time by many and eventually becomes as developed as it can be, one might dare to say almost perfect.I later found this image in the book Adhocism by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, it is titled ‘Evolutionary series of the bicycle’.
A few weeks later (from the symposium) and after a couple of conversations about structures, systems and ways of working with them I decided to conduct a super fast research session (timers, chocolate bar, the whole deal) to try and build a concise, clear idea of what exactly Adhocism is, its relevance to me and my work, and what it could teach me about how I make my work. so I have checked out the book Adhocism by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver (1972, 2013) the expanded and updated edition from the library (the one Micheal Eden referenced in his talk at the bath symposium on ceramics and new technology) and got cracking.
Right, lets go…
Much of what follows will be quotes, paraphrasing and reflections. This is to be fast. So it might not make the most joyous of reading experiences…
Adhocism is -“a mongrel term first used in architectural criticism in 1968”
A conjunction of ad hoc -“for this particular purpose” and ism – short hand for a movement in the arts.
“Adhocism denotes a principle of action having speed or economy and purpose or utility, and it prospers like most hybrid’s on the edge of respectability.”
Basically, as in architecture, it involves using an available system in a new way to solve a problem quickly and efficiently.
A typical example of adhocism takes an existing system and adding new/different components/parts or systems.
“Perhaps 90% if adhocist concoctions are like this, old systems with a few supplementary clip-ons. ”
“A second point is that the visual result should looks complex or striking”
Then a list of points of what ‘good’ adhocist concoctions should show:
- What they do
- Where they came from, their past (the additions should be clear)
- How they are put together.
“Legibility and dissect-ability are are key exressive aspects of adhocism, they are goals in themselves for some.”
The third important point about adhocism is CREATIVITY.
The point of “to this specific purpose” troubled me a bit, when we consider this in relation to my work and the work I want to make does it run into problems? Ill have to think on that one.
(All of above from foreword page 7)
The books arguments follow the ideas of Arthur Koestler and others “who have long pointed out that all creativity depends on the coming together of disparate material”
My short research period is up, at some point soon I think I shall have to have another brief one. Adhocism is an incredibly interesting area/topic that I would love to revisit. It has many values that I see in my work or particularly in my process of working, but it also holds several that perhaps I don’t find in my work or process. When things refer to systems, structures, object histories and environment I feel a resonance and get excited, other aspects of the -ism I perhaps do not understand so well or feel so strongly connected with.
In the beginning the exact nature of my dissertation was not clear for some time. I took quite a while in deciding exactly what it was that I wanted to write about. This was a pitfall that would hinder me several times along my journey. It seems to have made me to resolve to ‘Just go with the first idea’ in the future. At least in the initial instance, as it gets you writing, as I found it was all to easy to get stuck in the thinking zone. I read a lot to begin with and filled the best part of a Moleskine notebook stuffed with notes and ideas, I built up a large collection of files of notes on google docs. I enjoyed the reading and the research, at times I would become very engrossed in my reading, but not really forming a critical analysis of what I had read. The problem I suppose was getting pen onto paper, and forming the ideas into constructive, critical and cohesive arguments. Needless to say I got little written in my first term, and did rather badly in my formative assessment.
I originally decided that I wanted to make an artifact for my dissertation, but found that as I neared the Christmas holiday I found myself increasingly unable to settle on what exactly I was going to make. This is a shame because now, with hindsight, I realize I could have produced a really interesting artifact using rapid prototyping. I feel this because the writing of my academic paper made me realize the subjects I am interested in, such as Rapid Prototyping and the maker movement ethos, are so current and exciting that it would have been fantastic to produce a piece of work that was part of it.Some of the ideas and note taking I gathered whilst thinking about that are collected below:
- The digital craftsman: Algorithm meets the material.
- Define what you mean by craft
- – what differentiates craft from fine art or design ( could draw on ideas from first year archetypes brief)
- The applications of digital media in the craft world
- does the digital craftsman exist? What do they look like? how can their work be described/ categorized
- – organic matter being created from digital algorithm
- will this give rise to naturalistic undefinable forms? an emergence of mode of new sculpture?
- Theory of Sculpture matters, this needs researching…
- – Mike Hansmeyer – using fractural(?) geometries to apply an algorithm to organic architectural design – making a physical object from a computer
– Michael Eden – transforming the organic process of ceramic into a digital form
– Geoffrey Mann – flight of the moth – transforming movement (organic nature body time motion) into physical object using digital techniques.
Process of making:
Algorithmic design – grasshopper- others?
above. grasshopper definitions
- you have a 3d print – very complex – direct cast in bronze?
- Laser cut- layers approach to large complex object like Hansmeyer…..
- Future 3d printers or laser cutters we are able to work in a whole range of materials – ceramic (examples)
- rapid prototyping allows us to move on quicker, we can create more stuff/or maybe less stuff but better stuff?
- Internet generation (everything is instant)
How can you apply this to an object. Maybe have different examples of different types of rapid prototyping applied in a craft way relevant to the definition you gave at the beginning to justify them.
Should I consider post graduate study in the future, I shall be sure to consider the academic written requirements expected of students at that level and assess whether I am ready for it and that I have something to say that I think I could convey well.
The final title of my dissertation eventually became The Industrialization of the Maker and Digital Fabrication. Ill admit it went through quite a few different variations before it finally arrived there. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to talk about Making and the Maker Movement. The rise of the maker movement to importance in the world today and its reliance on the modes of production and infrastructure that came before it is really the meat of my writing. If I were to revisit the writing I would like discuss some more specific case studies that show the progression of the maker movement revolution and the parallels that can be drawn from Britain’s industrial revolution past. I really enjoyed writing the Maker movement chapter, it felt like the structure came a little easier in that section. The research came with a little more ease than I had found with the industrial revolution work. I found the research and writing surrounding the industrial revolution content interesting but a little harder to work with, some of the texts could become a little laborious to read at times. I found the most difficultly in constructing my final chapter, it proved to challenging though – drawing from the earlier chapters in the text to formulate arguments.
In conclusion I’v learnt plenty of new skills in writing this dissertation such as researching, formatting academic text, constructing a bibliography and voicing an academic argument to name but a few. The process of writing the dissertation also reminded me of some of my weaknesses, time management, indecision and experiencing difficulty in achieving a specific focus that was required to hold the whole scope of the writings argument in its totality and see where to go next. These are things I should have to keep in mind should I venture on another attempt at writing an academic text such as this again. With focus and time I can improve. Dissertation was tough, for me it started right at the beginning starting with that indecision on what to write. This was really unfortunate as I found as time went on I was finding it harder to talk easily about it with my tutor, admittedly I found more and more awkward to cement the direction of my writing. I have had good support with the work though, with my dissertation tutor always nearby should I need some help. Discussing the work with peers a really good way to get past impasses which inhibited progress.It has certainly been an educational process this dissertation.