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Giving Form to Feedback: Craft and Technology, circa 1968-1974


In the American postwar era, artistic engagement with technology has been characterized by deep ambivalence in favor of conceptual practice. This project examines how craftspeople challenge this history through their engagement with digital technology. Given their object-centered practice, craftspeople were primed to give material form to abstract “Systems Era” concepts. I approach this project through three case studies: biological feedback in Mary Ann Scherr’s jewelry, human-computer feedback designed by IBM programmer and weaver Janice Lourie, and ecological feedback in woodworker Wendell Castle’s immersive spaces. These craftspeople provide a vibrant precedent to contemporary personal fabrication, and offer insight into the role gender played in the domestication of technology.

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