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  • GETTING SQUIDGY WITH IT: The Lost Art of Making in a Digital Universe

    As the relentless endeavor of programmers shapes our visions of the world of the future the status of making things slips into obscurity swamped in a slew of self-reproducing digi-bytes

    While the familiar digital promotional promises of ‘easy’, ‘effortless’ and ‘free’ are clearly illusions (or delusions?) they continue to seduce an emerging generation of ‘creative’ practitioners. The abdication to the digital realm has involved creativity in adopting many of the characteristics that were the prerogative of the relatively passive early adopters we call ‘watchers’ and ‘gamers.’

    While it is relatively easy to be seduced into a paradigm where rewards can be accomplished without physical presence being required the ‘couch potato’ is possibly not the most sustainable pose for an innovator

    Our gradual evacuation of the physical landscape raises a series of questions about how we learn and what we learn

    Play for example, always a productive site for discovery and skill acquisition has become increasingly dependent on our ability to negotiate digital environments, to kill and demolish rather than construct. Locked into the predetermined syndrome of generic clichés that dominate digital gameplay rather than exploring and evolving our capacity for discovery and invention we find ourselves reliant on hardware that has been designed to reinforce the dominance of virtual participation.

    A set of rules and a limited range of choices and opportunities are now prescribing our leisure time and our learning outcomes.

    Compared to the press-and-play instant access promise of digital gaming play in the physical environment is subject to an increasingly negative reaction from parents. Yet fretting about risk, dirt and the unpredictable nature of outcomes helps to shape children’s obsession with gadgets that are sterile and predictable.

    Meanwhile those spheres of embodied participation that have traditionally helped to ignite the creative imagination are ignored and this has significant implications for the development of the kind of skills, values, sensitivities and awareness that has traditionally shaped the future of art and craft.

    Put simply we need to rediscover the lost art of mud pies and here’s why:

    You get to realize that squidgy is fun

    You get to discover that the unpredictability of squidgy materials offer the kind of unpredictable outcomes from which creativity is constructed

    You discover that embodied participation unlocks the door to fantasy and make believe more effectively that a digital substitute

    You discover that the real world is brim full of sensory opportunity that enhances your ability to appreciate and evolve beyond the parameters of visual judgment

    You discover that getting down n’ dirty soon exposes who the gatekeepers are and the limitations of their motivations

    You discover that failure is a learning opportunity rather than a credibility bypass

    You realize that asymmetry is OK and WONKY is alright

    You comprehend that value is a standard that can be renegotiated

    You discover that not everything in life needs rules


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