“Why Make?” Workshop & final project outcome


Embodied learning, tacit understanding and the “power of making” are all ideas that have formed the academic context for my project. Yet so far there has been a difficulty seperating theory from practice, or rather attempting to explain or analyse practice through theory. This became one of the focuses of my final project outcome; a series of workshops & publication entitled “Why Make?”.
Placing financial and practical reasons to one side, we are still as humans drawn to create. Religion stems from a notion of “creation”, it is seen as the highest power. Yet is it a good thing or bad? As Tony Fry said, “when you create something, you destroy something”.26 “Creation” in the way that it is understood in the west is merely a rearrangement of raw material; both destructive (to the original material form) and creative (of a new one). True creation must arrive ex nihilo, it must come from emotion, from the “very source of our being”27

There is something magical in making for making’s sake, in immersing yourself into a state of flow, that I wanted to explore. I can’t assume that everybody feels the same way, so I wanted to open up a discussion about the making process. The idea of this discussion was to explore making through making. The making process itself, I hoped, would reveal in its action the reason for its power.

I invited makers and designers from different disciplines; jewellery, performance, filmmaking, carpentry, web design, print making and curation, to come together and explore the question through an afternoon of collaborative making.
The idea was inspired by a quote from architect Peter Sabara, on drawing as an exploratory technique for design:

“After all, what was the role of drawing if not to evoke new possibilities? To open new readings, to provoke a conversation? To openly question, not to dictate absolutes to a reader in a synoptic sense! To actively pull apart the seeming “givens” we too often took for granted, those perceptual padlocks that close the door to true newness. The reading would be as challenging as the writing (both in meaning and aesthetically, we were aware that newness would be ugly). In the meantime we had no need for closure: ours was to develop this process of undoing, unmaking and then making through re-making, not through abstract analysis but rather by active fermentation, a process of irreverent and accidental discovery.”28

I have chosen this quote as, although the remits were different, it captures the spirit perfectly of what I was aiming to achieve through the “why make” workshop. Finished products had no place here; what is revealed at the end is not a representation of an answer but a record of action.

We began by brainstorming on the walls, drawing and discussing what it means to “make”. Discussions took place, questions were posed and answered as the brainstorm grew. During the afternoon materials were incorporated into the discussion and objects began to take shape.

The focus was on Process over Product; it was not important what was made, only that we began to think about how it feels to make. Interestingly every participant proudly presented an “end product”, even though this was not requested. This may be due to our formal education, and a habituated practice of handing in a finished piece of work. Or perhaps there is a need to create something, however abstract. The discussion continues, alongside photos and a short video of the event at www.facebook.com/WhyMake 

26 In conversation at Goldsmiths, University of London

27 Juniper, Andrew Wabi Sabi, The Japanese Art of Impermanence Tuttle Publishing, USA 2003 pg95

28 Peter Sabara “The Ministry of Health. Views from the Lighthouse. Excerpts from exile at the the Diorama and musings on a still open architecture...” A letter, June 1993