Making Futures Journal 2017

Crafting a sustainable Modernity - towards a maker aesthetics of production and consumption.

The papers in this volume are the proceedings of the fifth edition of the biennial Making Futures international research conference held during September 2017 at Mount Edgcumbe House near Plymouth in the South West of England.

Recognising the seemingly intractable crises (social, economic and environmental) of late Modernity, this edition investigates these emergencies through the optic of contemporary craft and neo-artisanal maker movements. It aims to situate these movements as part of a forward-looking effort to re-imagine a viable late Modernity through a new emerging ‘aesthetics’ of production and consumption.

This is not to deny the exploitative dimensions of much modern craft-based labour (one need only think of the serried rows of textile machinists locked into industrial-scale sweat-shop production), or the phenomena of contemporary ‘craft-wash’ marketing with its ubiquitous ‘craft’ ales, foods and clothing. Nor, indeed, the ways in which many craft métiers retain strong connections to tradition in ways that can positively mediate relations between past, present and future. However, these realities should not inhibit us from asking how our late Modernity might beneficially embrace the political economies of small-scale localized regimes of making and consumption as fundamentally progressive elements, rather than as constitutive of some idealised space 'outside' modernity that all too easily lapses into nostalgia or simply passes over the unethical. Yet this thought obliges us to recognise that we are not looking at a reading that posits craft on one side and industry on the other, but a spectrum of behaviours in which post-Fordist regimes of small-scale neo-artisanal making and micro-manufacturing are attempting to innovate around technology, form, function, aesthetic meaning and social relevance – engaging in the problematic everyday actualities that go hand-in-hand with the creation, through making, of new socially expressive possibilities and social relationships.

It is this ‘spectrum of behaviours’ that the papers in this volume both exemplify and explore, engaging with what it means ‘to make’ and its future significations - personally, socially, politically… its impact on sustainable agendas, its potential to subvert mass consumption, its relation to new technologies, its contribution to community and 'place-making' and to the possible emergence of new political economies. In short, the idea of a sustainable late Modernity that can embrace small-scale producers as an urgent and progressive project in its own right.

Malcolm Ferris, Editor

Making Futures: Crafting a sustainable Modernity - towards a maker aesthetics of production and consumption. Vol 5. ISSN 2042-1664

Note on journal structure:

You can navigate through the journal using the list of pages below.

The journal structure broadly mirrors the original conference programme, with a brief introduction by the curator, Malcolm Ferris, followed by the keynote presentations, the featured artist Kanghyo LEE, and finally the parallel thematic workshops and session strands. Note, however, that keynote, delegate workshops and session papers, are all presented in alphabetical order and not in original running orders, although where workshop leaders have submitted a review of the workshop, this is placed at the top of the list of papers.