ArtCraftTech was a short-term problem-solving conference that created a dialogue between several creative disciplines. The conference brought together artists, craftspeople, scientists, and technology experts to work on a problem outside their field of expertise in a spirit of open inquiry, inviting input and feedback from the public. ArtCraftTech, or ACT, offered the interdisciplinary team the freedom to be as creative and imaginative as they wanted to be, and then brought a general public into the process. Respect for all perspectives was a given, and everybody’s problem-solving capacities could be exercised in a low-pressure, playful context. The hope was that this experience would spill over into other parts of life and that all the participants would gain confidence, a new perspective, an opened mind and be galvanized to ACT in their everyday lives, becoming engaged with problem-solving on a local and global level.
The main aim of ACT was to bring together the many different practitioners for concrete problem-solving in an artistic context. The core of 5-10 participants came up with a problem to solve together, and then attempted to find a solution together and in consultation with a larger public. The "problem" to solve can be anything that the participants see as urgent or pressing, from how to make a faster, safer bicycle to how to make diplomacy more attractive than war. In other words, anything from the very practical to the highly conceptual. Accordingly, the "solution" often invoked a range of conceptual and practical tools. The “solution” took the form of a product that was constructed together, it could take the form of a model, a performance, a film, a live art action, a series of objects, or a combination of all of these. This project was executed in an artistic context because there could be no right answers, and the products created through the process of collaboration had and have the status of art—serving as a way to gather, galvanize, and provoke rather than as (only) a practical guide.
The basic form of the program involved communication between all the core participants via email, phone and video conferencing (e.g. Skype or iChat) and, if in the same city, in person discussions, 4-6 months before the planned date of the public presentation. During this time, the participants fleshed out their ideas and worked on physical details in their own time. Along the way the core participants shared details of their process with the public and invited comments through videos, blogs and other online tools. Sharing the process served as a way to draw in a wide range of participants outside the core and build excitement for the public presentation.
ArtCraftTech 2010 (ACT10): Tracing Trash
ArtCraftTech 2009 (ACT09): Health and Wealth