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The subject mutant of the future craftsmanship


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Lucas Muñoz Muñoz

Professor at the School of Architecture

We are moving towards a possible future in which production is delocalized from industry and reduced to the scale of the neighborhood. A future in which logistics shortens its distances or, at least, one in which once an object is moved from its first factory, the subject that composes it keeps oscillating in short trajectories for a longer time in the same territory, changing its shape.

The death of the material fetish is the eternal life of the idea that, freed from the object, is interchangeable and revisitable at zero cost. A future status quo that will come with the culmination of a process that may end up being known as the great digitalization. More than a decade ago the sociologist Manuel Castells announced thatthe vast majority of the world's information is already digitized. This dynamic has not stopped and now not only images, videos, audio and text are being digitized, but also surfaces.

Apple's cars have already been seen scanning -as Google's used to record-, the topographies of our cities. While this is happening, digital encyclopedias of surfaces of objects and meshes of interior spaces are increasing their references every minute, if not fed by students, then by professionals hunting for Borges' map enlarged to three axes: X, Y and Z. You will hear more and more about the slow but incipient ubiquity of 3D printers in our immediate environment and soon they will open a space in your neighborhood in which to print subject physics. If it sounds dizzying, just wait, soon augmented reality will make this a joke. With glasses we will move our hands and fingers and whatever we shape in the air will be printed in the material we want, whether plastic, ceramic or metal, you choose.

We are moving towards a possible future in which production is delocalized from industry and reduced to the scale of the neighborhood. A future in which logistics shortens its distances or, at least, one in which once an object is moved from its first factory, the subject that composes it keeps oscillating on short trajectories for a longer time in the same territory, changing its shape. A local production fed by a floating supply of possibilities stored in the cloud for which the materials of our objects will be crushed creating a grana to melt and with which to produce new objects of use. These, which will be removable, destructible and reprintable, will allow us a flexibility of possession based on the capacity for absolute, immediate, interconnected and infinitely variable dynamic mutation.

If we create a future in which the particles of our objects remain pure enough to be able to repeat cycles, they will not be a waste. In that future of preserved purity and constant metamorphosis, the scarcity and real value of what we extract will be rule. The chemical and social footprints of the extraction of subject will be reflected in its prices. In this future of material consciousness, perhaps we will all have the right to limited quantities of each element, susceptible to cyclical recalculation, and with which we will be able to negotiate among ourselves digitally in a model similar to the current system of rights toCO2 emissionsthat countries share, but with weight, volume and, hopefully, less boldness. It would be a sustainable model of organization of the possession of the materials and, therefore, of its use, that would control a considerable part of its circulation. A system of custody with which to socially detach the physical connection between the act of consuming and the notion of possessing.

It will be a context that will require a model of creator with artisan vision but semi-industrial capacity, that mixes the vernacular Genetics of the guide and the virtuous with the inexhaustible digital tools of the reconquest of production, that hybridizes roots and folklore with a global consciousness, creating a return to the true material politics of the local. A Economics of creation and repair 2.0 orchestrated in a future in which we may see how a version of the guild system of pre-capitalist feudalism is repeated, in which artisans dominate territories, local materials and techniques, creating around them a coming and going of apprentice travelers who acquire the techniques of their master, and migrate to their own territory where they can also be masters and develop their objects from their regional resources and materials. A system, already in a certain way, reborn today in the small artisan workshops and design, where experiments are developed with this notion of the local object, but with a clear influence and link to the international. "Think global, dig local", declare Atelier NL, and the fact is that the delocalization of the sources of creativity with respect to the places of production is one of the frayed edges of the industrial fabric that we inherited. However, we need to re-appropriate the means of production and material sources by making both a local, open and circular value.

Like everything else, this also has its risks. If before all this, just by glimpsing the beginning of the media noise, Guy Debord already warned that we have gone from the culture of "having" to the culture of the spectacle of "appearing", perhaps now we are gradually entering his hyperbole: an appearing with the infinite possibilities of "mutating". It is possible that this furor of floating ideas, temporarily materialized by local artisans, will pour us into a period of chameleon-like objects only physically defined by the amount of material we possess to create their components and the subscriptions we maintain with the infinite possibilities of digital metamorphoses of particles in transition. "Wait, if you have some aluminum, I'll print myself some glasses with the latest model of my subscription and we'll go," to which another replies, "Use my keychain, I got it yesterday at an event."

The return to the workshops will emancipate us from "what we are given" as group, to allow us to explore "what we can give" as individuals. A relationship with the subject that instructs and calibrates the difficulty of creation and, therefore, values its material, energetic and social cost. A part of the discipline of design thus becomes independent of industry, re-engages with craftsmanship, offers itself to its local communities and popularizes itself through channels of knowledge packaged in video tutorials or DIY(do it yourself) instructions, creating a plural, participatory, contextual scenario of collaborations, influences and cross-pollination and emerging as a reaction to the idea of the hermetic, solitary, egocentric and genius author.

If we move towards a shortage of work by machine-human substitution, the added value of creativity and individual creation will be the basis and not the excess. It will be the rule and not the exception. Open and common codes and sources with which we will enter an era of bastardization of pure origins, in which continuous mixtures of styles, techniques and functions will be produced in any corner and communicated in the open to serve as a starting point for the next.

A creative, self-regenerative and evolutionary circle in which Max Frisch's homo faber (the man who makes or manufactures) will join Huizinga's homo ludens (the man who plays) to re-form an openly creative society, communally creative, territorially original, materially circular, with micro-industrial productions in which craftsmanship and digital join together, giving subject to ideas and knowledge shared rhizomatically and created in a participatory way.