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Paul Harper
Articulating craft: the role of digital media in analysing Practice

Conference contribution

The Documentation of Fine Art Practices and Processes Symposium
Institute for the Contemporary Arts
Lancaster University

December 2, 2005

The Documentation of Fine Art Practices and Processes Symposium

This paper was essentially a report on my doctoral research.

I argued that critical writing has the potential to shape practice into something that is more easily written or talked about within its own conventions. It tends to the belief that meaning is, first and foremost, something that sentences have. That meaning is principally to be found in language, in words contextualized in sentences.

The primary critical and theoretical focus in the crafts has become the craft object as site of meaning and main area of significance. This essentially literary approach regards the object as something to be "read". I assert that this focus neglects those things that define craft as intrinsically connected to the material world, to experience, to practice, to actions, and to things. In my research, as well as the craft object and its meanings, I consider the craftsperson's intimate connection to materials, process, techniques, forms, and the traditions associated with these. I also look at the context in which things are made and consumed.

I argue the need to develop research tools that make evident inadequately theorised aspects of practice, contributing to an expanded and enriched discourse about craft.

I demonstrated the potential of digital media, not just as a tool for documenting practice, but also for revealing the ways in which the context and the processes of practice contribute to meaning. I outlined the critical context for my research and showed excerpts from case studies. I discussed some of the methodological questions that have arisen during the filming and editing of the material.

My report addressed my research interests: Epistemology and research methods for craft; the documentation and analysis of practice; theories of language and meaning with regard to art and craft; the purpose and meaning of craft in contemporary culture; the reflective practitioner.

read the full paper:

Articulating craft: the role of digital media in analysing Practice

further documentation on the cascpp website

back to Paul Harper home page

London Metropolitan University