well the project is sort of formally over – the first part – we await possible funding for part two - an exhibition, catalogue and symposium. I set out to be changed through the activity of pursuing that which I did not know within the framework of soft robotics. Our open-ended interaction with each other, both Makers with Scientists and Makers with Makers was the key to the success of the project.
Through the iterative process of meetings, sharing, making, reflecting and then repeating the process we created over 250 individual models that explored the initial collaborative vocabulary we constructed to work within. The work pattern we followed and the work we have made set out to be process led, learning through making and quick, cheap and unfinished so that ideas were at the fore of the investigative project. The project has enabled me to finally work creatively with a number of new processes and mediums and to confirm our interest in the activity of creative thinking as an end in itself.
Throughout my own practice I have developed a set of rules, a framework or paradigm to support, guide and enable me to make work. This activity is sometimes conscious as a creative exercise and sometimes subconsciously through the familiarity of making. This project enabled and supported the opportunity to break a large number of the rules I have created; examples being the act of cutting and joining of individual elements towards the development of new structures, working with a range of materials new to us encouraging new areas of problem solving and working in new media in the form of moving image.
Observing how others make work and having access to ways of thinking new to me has been liberating and has infused in me a renewed interest in creating physical work from a place of thinking, discussing and reflecting. The project has enabled time to grow, time to make sense of what I do, time to play.
The paper folding workshop with PhD students was instructive on all sides and is something I feel could be embedded within the Robotics department, a ‘hands on’ envisioning of the abstract concepts the students work with on a daily basis.
There was an added bonus that was unforeseen. The scientists work in a large institution, have difficulty finding time to talk within their department and rarely stray from their own field. We as makers have no sense of hierarchy or boundaries and we have found ourselves acting as conduits between people.
Already there is a renewed openness to alternative ways of making and I feel there is a route to something ‘other’ that has been created and made possible. The ‘teaching by osmosis’ I witnessed between a PhD student and Thrish was very exciting and different to my engagement with graduate and post graduate students and is something that I will explore within the teaching posts I occupy. On a practical level the engagement with materials new to me and alternative ways of thinking and working will become part of my toolbox for making and problem solving in the future.
The project has been very successful – providing a ‘creative jolt’ both through my practice and away from it. I set out to be changed and I have been. Through undertaking the project strategy we developed; that of making, sharing, responding and reflecting - to be repeated until the end we both now have a huge body of work, a new tool box of starting points or thinking tools for new bodies of work that can be taken into a wide range of situations from education and health to architecture and design..
I set out to move towards and if possible occupy a place of not knowing. This was supported by all, an intention that underpinned our time together. If something looked or felt familiar we moved away from it, often abandoning some tempting creative possibilities but always attempting to embrace change and the new. This resulted in the creation of models and structures unfamiliar to me, developed through an engagement with materials and media new to me. This combined with new ways of thinking means that our practices will undeniably be advanced in new and exciting ways.
One tangible factor of change is that over the past year I have been working with moving image as a way of documenting my practice but through this project I have been watching others hold and manipulate the individual structures in very studious ways. This has been an instructive experience which led me to create folded structures for film pieces that I see as the work itself.
The future is about working within and developing networks, creating systems to share what we do with a view to growing through understanding of others. Using this process we develop as individuals through the collective sharing of information. The project is a model that can be used to promote the idea of collaborative inter-disciplinary activity. It now needs to be made more visible.
My practice has been informed through the accumulation and exchange of knowledge within the project. I have learnt a number of new ways of approaching a problem through observing individual approaches to thinking and making which will continue to inform my own practice. Reflecting on and developing these new acquisitions has meant that I have been able to expand my conceptual and practical ‘tool kit’. This has facilitated a more experimental approach when making work. Making a range of innovative forms within the project has enabled me to develop new branches of work. To hold and manipulate these new structures in my hands has presented alternative opportunities towards informing my thinking.
There is an extended long-term impact associated with the project. On a personal level it will be continued through the people I come into contact with. The teaching both formal within teaching institutions and informal through workshops and residencies will be informed by the work I have been involved in throughout this project. Reports, projects, internal tasks within the degree courses and proposals I work on in the future will have at their core lessons learnt through Parallel Practices.