Re:presenting making: the integration of new technology into ceramic designer-maker practice.
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BUNNELL, K. 1998. Re:presenting making: the integration of new technology into ceramic designer-maker practice. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
See Coversheet for system requirements. The aim of the research is to integrate computer technologies and environmentally - sensitive materials and processes into the practice of the ceramic designer-maker, in order to assess the impact of new technologies on practice. A critical contextual review (including analysis of visual material) revealed a developing interest in environmental issues and computer technologies in designer-maker practice. A shift away from a philosophy which historically has been anti-industrial, towards a wider spectrum of craft production was noted. This diversity was shown in the types of production and the scale of manufacture - from ‘one-offs’ to industrial manufacture. New technologies were acknowledged by critics, commentators and practitioners as facilitating this development, although concerns about the potentially detrimental affect that computer technology could have on craft skills was voiced. A link between a pragmatic philosophy of ‘craft’ practice and new approaches to computer systems design highlighted a perception of the validity of ‘craft’ as a contemporary skill. The lack of established methodologies for practice-based ceramic design research has led to the development of a naturalistic approach within this work which is both holistic and emergent. By necessity this methodology places the design researcher at the centre of the inquiry, and uses practice as the main research vehicle. Selected research outcomes were peer reviewed through two significant international touring exhibitions: ‘Hot Off the Press: Ceramics and Print’ and ‘Objects of Our Time’. Initial investigations concentrated on the development of environmentally-sensitive lustre glazes [lead and cadmium free] incorporating an innovative ‘safe’ reduction firing system. Subsequently, ceramic surface designs and three dimensional forms were developed through the integration of: computer assisted design work (CAD); computer assisted manufacture (CAM); colours and glazes; and environmentally-sensitive screen printing, and existing making methods. The outcome was new aesthetic qualities and an extension of practical capabilities. A critical framework for the analysis of research outcomes was developed in order to make explicit and transferable some of the tacit knowledge embodied in research investigations. The analysis was developed through the use of a computer database system from which an electronic document was developed, allowing the integration of a large amount of visual material into the thesis. The research demonstrated that the integration of new technologies into the holistic and emergent practice of the ceramic designer-maker was appropriate. Many advantages of computer technologies for the ceramic practitioner are identified as transferable to the wider field of designer-maker practice and embody the potential to enhance future developments in this field.