“Future Master E-textiles craftsmanship”
Today, e-textiles practices do not necessary involve high-tech machines, instead they draw upon traditional techniques and often include handcraft practices. Especially in artistic and design approaches to e-textiles, the dominant use of handcraft techniques is evident. Many e-textile artifacts are made by hand, either as one-off art works and designs or as prototypes intended for mass-production. Automated manufacturing methods for combining textiles and electronics do not exist yet, but computer controlled PCB weaving machines will one day hit the market. When high-tech technologies are capable of producing the things we currently make by hand, our roles will change. So, as technology runs it’s course, lets continue to enjoy the hours we spend crafting our e-textiles creations.
To a population accustomed to automated machine-made products with perfect cuts and surfaces, crafted artifacts don’t necessary carry contemporary, futuristic or innovative connotations. As crafted artifacts, e-textiles are not exempt from this antiquated image of craft.
Despite craft’s anti-modern connotations, one can observe a resurgence of craft among young people, from fashion trends to DIY hypes, where uneven, irregular finishes that are obviously “made by hand” become desirable and trendy. But is imperfection really a trademark of craft? If you think of craft at the level of the master craftsman, it is about the perfect object, produced with skilled precision that can only be achieved through long training.
If we consider E-textiles as a modern craft, it is indeed a very young practice and we may not have achieved the level of master practitioners yet. If we think of ourselves as future master craftspeople, what kinds of skills and techniques will we posses? What kinds of objects will we make? And how will we pass on our trade?
I picked “E-textile craftsmanship” as a topic for this summer camp to discuss, illustrate, experiment with it as a future vision. I picked this topic, because as a practitioner in this field, I enjoy working with my hands, and hope that this will not be taken over completely by machines as many other textile productions have been. Maybe it is unavoidable, but at least I feel it is important that we raise the discussion at this point in time.