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Title: The integration of digital technologies into designer-maker practice : a study of access, attitudes and implications
Author: Risner, Isabelle
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London and Falmouth University
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2013
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This research is a focused investigation of the use of digital production technologies by UK designer-makers. The Critical and Contextual Review begins by examining what is known about the UK designer-maker sector. It considers how making practices relate to history and theories of craft, exploring meanings of key concepts such as ‘skill’ and ‘productive autonomy’. It reviews contemporary digital craft practice, identifying it as a genre and examines both digital economy and digital tool-use trends, relating to craft. The methodology Chapter 3 explains how the pragmatic philosophical approach taken justifies the focus on investigations of experiential practice and the specific mixed methods adopted. A series of experiential case studies looking at emergent practice is analysed using grounded theory techniques and concludes that in using digital tools the maker’s vision is the animating force in an inherently collective endeavour. This chapter is followed by an in-depth practicebased investigation looking specifically at the collaborative potential facilitated by digital possibilities. Chapter 6 presents an analysis of professional views based on interviews that probe the range and extent of technical and creative collaborations. At each stage of the research a reflective enquiry points towards the next step and provides successive iterations of evidence. The thesis that emerges from evidence is the contribution to knowledge of this research. It is that a cross-fertilisation between craft and digital technologies produces a hybrid networked practice that can amount to a new type of technology-enabled and networked craft – Technepractice – in which ‘negotiated collective engagement’ is the driving characteristic. This presents a fundamental challenge to the constructed authenticity of productive autonomy in 20th century studio craft practice. The animation of collective resources, from exteriorised skill embedded in technology to the expertise of technicians and machine operators and the use of digital data sources, requires a re-evaluation of the location and meaning of skill in digital craft practice. A full account of the digital ‘proposition’ for craft, both the opportunities and threats, places digital craft in the context of other digital creative industries and explores possibilities for extending practice from collaborations to digital business models.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: European Social Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Crafts