The Practiced Digital Hand
The love of making things need not be confined to the physical world—electronic form giving can also be a rewarding hands-on experience. In this investigation of the possibility of craft in the digital realm, Malcolm McCullough observes that the emergence of computation as a medium, rather than just a set of tools, suggests a growing correspondence between digital work and traditional craft.
Personal and conversational in tone, with examples and illustrations drawn from a variety of disciplines, Abstracting Craft shows that anyone who gives form with software, whether in architecture, painting, animating, modeling, simulating, or manufacturing, is practicing personal knowledge and producing visual artifacts that, although not material, are nevertheless products of the hands, eyes, and mind. Chapter by chapter, McCullough builds a case for upholding humane traits and values during the formative stages of new practices in digital media. He covers the nature of hand-eye coordination; the working context of the image culture; aspects of tool usage and medium appreciation; uses and limitations of symbolic methods; issues in human-computer interaction; geometric constructions and abstract methods in design; the necessity of improvisation; and the personal worth of work.
For those new to computing, McCullough offers an inside view of what the technology is like, what the important technical issues are, and how creative computing fits within a larger intellectual history. Specialists in human-computer interaction will find an interesting case study of the anthropological and psychological issues that matter to designers. Artificial intelligence researchers will be reminded that much activity fails to fit articulable formalisms. Aesthetic theorists will find a curiously developed case of neostructuralism, and cultural critics will be asked to imagine a praxis in which technology no longer represents an authoritarian opposition. Finally, the unheralded legions of digital craftspersons will find a full-blown acknowledgment of their artistry and humanity.