#Picbod – The Artisan and the Artifact

On Thursday 13th February 2014, I attended a day of university that was dedicated solely to my #Picbod module. We started off the day with a lecture regarding the artisan and the artifact taken by Matt Johnston, followed by an artifact clinic session with our teaching assistants Chantal and Jon who kindly talked us through our presentation ideas and gave us some suggestions (the notes from this particular session will be under the same post as my process for my final #Picbod idea). Then, after lunch, I went to a feedback session that discussed last weeks task of Empowerment. These notes can be found below:


  • Recognise the tokenality of a day like valentines day
  • How might you value the artisan and the artifact?
  • “..But remember that the intuition of a good artist is a most powerful, a most intelligent and a frequently underrated tool” – Gerry Badger
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer HORIZONS
    • Artists Horizon – Vision/Ideas/Agenda
    • Viewer’s Horizon – won’t be the same; Memory/Knowledge/Experience will influence their Horizon
    • These horizons should view together – see the world through the artists eyes – not something that necessarily happens all of the time
    • When you leave the artwork, the horizons separate again but our horizons will adapt depending on what we have seen
    • Horizons: Our presentation choices must reinforce the communication of our message or theme
    • Need to make our horizon (the artists horizon) as clear as possible and enhance our context
    • Ensure that our artifacts reflect and utilize the world that they occupy

The weight of objects

  • It occupies physical space – we look at it as a flaw in this digital age
  • There is something about the physical embodiment
  • Kevin Kelly – Better Than Free (blog called The Technium)
    • Talks about the generative that cannot be replicated digitally
    • Talks about things that can’t be replicated digitally
    • Embodiment – digital copy doesn’t have a body
    • Embodiment — At its core the digital copy is without a body. You can take a free copy of a work and throw it on a screen. But perhaps you’d like to see it in hi-res on a huge screen? Maybe in 3D? PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good. What about dwelling in your favorite (free) game with 35 others in the same room? There is no end to greater embodiment.”http://kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/01/better_than_fre.php
  • We need to embrace the weight of the physical objects
  • A book has weight, it has size, thickness, and tactile qualities, qualities which are handled by the hand, as it’s optical form is handled by the eye” – 1949 ‘Graphic Forms’, Gyorgy Kepes
  • American NightPaul Graham

white shirt man, atlatna, 2002

American Night – Paul Graham 2

  • The printed page, the bound (codex) book with its title and author page, looks authoritative; it can be described as embodying or containing wisdom in a way that the unstable electronic text does not” Brigitte Frase
  • Permanence – good word to use
  • Perhaps people crave the interaction with the physical artifact
  • Provenance – the story of how something comes into being
  • Need to think about provenance when creating a hand crafted artifact
  • Nathan Jurgenson – The IRL (In Real Life) Fetish

The Craftsman – photographer as alchemist

  • Think about experience and process (process is provenance)
  • Fo-vintage filters – very in trend at the moment

1 of 1

  • Scarcity increases the value of a artifact

Questions that we need to answer for our artifact ideas:

  1. What are my desired outcomes? (What will my project physically produce?)
  2. What am I looking to achieve by the production of this artifact? (Resolve a thematic problem/ explore the application of a process/attain my degree/produce a portfolio/get a job etc.)
  3. How can my method of presentation help me to accomplish this? (If I want to get my work into iD magazine and I produce a one-off projection onto a cloud in the sky then how will it be seen at an office in London?)
  4. Who do I want to experience the artifact? (Who are the people or institutions that might help me best achieve my answer to question 2)
  5. How can I best reach these people? (Invite to a show? What if they don’t turn up? Can I take my artifact to them? What if they’re in Japan? If I’m making a hanging exhibition but my key audience will have to experience the show remotely would my aims then be best realized by tailoring the delivery of my artifact accordingly i.e. specifically to be experienced away from the gallery)
  6. When do I want them to experience it? (Is there a time critical element to my work? Is it a one off or does it/could it coincide with another somehow related event)
  7. What are my resources? (Financial for one but also what special skills have I or my friends/family that I can employ or trade)
  8. How can I most effectively use them? (A podcast costs nothing but will it be downloaded? a website can be very cheap (if you have the skills) but will it be visited? a two page advert in LeBook costs thousands and hits top end advertising clients but is it the best mode for my situationist art-piece?)

The digital repli(can’t)

  • Skeuomorphism – try’s to represent something that is already an artifact in a digital form – e.g. calendar on the laptop
  • What does digital do well?
    • Its accessible
    • Cost well
    • Free to distribute
    • Deal with information that is adjustable rather than material
    • Can have layers to a digital experience
    • Can tap into networks
    • Need to make the most of both of these worlds and do not want to make versions in the other world but simply another artifact


SILVER & LIGHT from Ian Ruhter : Alchemist on Vimeo.


  • Really liked the fact that I recorded the audio of the session and thought the photographic conversation really added to the photos
  • Also liked the fact that I worked with someone I was less comfortable with
  • Desk Image
    • Lighting on the face is nicer in this image – almost draws the viewer in
    • However, the frame is too busy and very distracting


  • Bed Image
    • Liked the negative space framing the subject
    • Very nice vignette lighting
    • The most successful image out of the two