A Gentle Manifesto?

I met with Igor Siddiqui this afternoon to go over what I’ve been working on. While Mark will be my primary adviser for the actual making of the chair, Igor will be my primary adviser for figuring out how to talk about it. Igor is a professor of Interior Design and has done a lot of his own work focused on writing about making while actually making. While his projects have actually utilized a very different approach than mine, as he uses digital fabrication, he explores several ideas directly related to my thesis inquiry, particularly, how one shows temporality, the celebration of the life of a material, the network of people and places created by doing this work, and the network beyond that this work, once made, makes possible.

It’s good for me to be working with someone who is a digital fabricator. We talked about this a bit today in the form of a sort of warning. It is easy for me, in trying to articulate what it is I’m problematizing by making things by hand, to go up against methods other than mine, paint them negatively in trying to show why my method is good. But this is not my intent. In particular lies the obvious fact that digital fabrication is actually pushing innovation forward. To try to combat this would be silly of me, and I find myself falling into the pattern of doing this in defense of the work of the hand. What I need to do, rather, is show how the work of the hand can actually be a new paradigm, as opposed to some anachronistic method that must be revived for the sake of nostalgia. Can it combat the culture of consumption created by technology? Can it reconnect us to nature? Can it help us stay rooted in history while still pushing us into the future? Clearly my answer to all of these is yes, and I need to focus on how and why.

Igor suggested I consider writing the paper portion of this project with less of an intention of writing a critique and more of an intention of writing a manifesto. A manifesto is something I could start on now, by making a short declaration of a set of values and, over time, fleshing it out by considering how committed I actually am to these positions and who out there is supporting them with their own theory. I can use this manifesto to help drive the making. He also encouraged me not to lose sight of the material aspect of my theory as I get more and more involved in the philosophy behind it. I need to keep sight of the material specificity of wood, of its transformative and sublime qualities, of the the way it is WOOD that has inspired all of this thought and action.

Stay tuned as the manifesto experiment begins…


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