August 22 - 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA

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Technology and the Human Hand: Are We Losing Touch? - Part 2

by Editor 13. June 2018 10:34

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: ScottGrove.com

When I deliberated the question of using technology in my woodshop, I began by breaking it down to two questions: What is technology, and what is craftsmanship? Technology means using advanced machinery and knowledge often associated with science and math. Craftsmanship means creating by hand, actually touching the material. Sounds easy enough, but where is the line between the two? How advanced can the process be before the piece is no longer handmade?

Since prehistoric times, there has been some type of tool or machine, from chisels made from bone to steel saws powered by water, then electric tools, and so on; each advancement allowing us to work a little more efficiently. However, until recently, we still directly controlled the tool and the material with our hands. For me this is an important distinction. With hands-on control, I have the option to spontaneously react to the material and a tool’s performance, change in midstream, and go with flow. The relationship I have to the material is intrinsically intimate. Machines alone simply can’t do this.

On the other hand, I see many wood “craftsmen,” myself included, using advanced technology to produce furniture with laser-cut veneer and CNC devices turning precise duplicates and mill high-tolerance joinery—and these furniture makers are considered some of our best. Are they the best craftsmen? Or, are we now seeing a divide between true hands-on craftsman and now, designers?

As a hands-on craftsman, I strive for perfection, to make an exact joint, seam, curve, carved pattern, and finish that is absolutely flawless.
Obviously there are more questions than clear answers here. But one thing is for sure: Technology is here to stay and will keep advancing, helping us to become faster and more accurate, work more quickly and more cost effectively. The technological craftsman is a reality and our trade is splintering in two.

The dilemma is: How to use technology without losing touch with our craftsmanship? Or is that just cheating?  Be a part of the conversation during the "Technology and the Human Hand - Are We Losing Touch?" session at the IWF Conference on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM.

For a 9 minute TedX talk overview of this discussion, please visit https://imaginegrove.com/
Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com ImagineGrove.com
 

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