Monday, July 21, 2014

This is What Makers Do

We make. We try something. We learn from the interaction with materials. We try something else.
We are vulnerable because we are curious, but aren't sure what the outcome will be. We fail often. But once in a while, we find something that feels right. The important word here is FEEL. Making is about feeling: sensation. I choose materials and they way I work with them because I love the way the pencil feels as it moves across the paper, or in this case, the way enamel paint interacts with watercolor to create this slightly unpredictable, slippery paint that I can move across acetate with some unexpected results.

When it feels right, I know it. Not in a cerebral way, but, rather, I know it through sensations. My body feels it. It turns out there is a term for this. Harvard’s Project Zero and Agency by Design @AgencybyDesign are studying the cognitive functions of making and use the term embodied cognition to describe this type of learning: “We have much to learn from research in embodied cognition—an area of cognitive science (and philosophy) that explores how cognition is enacted through bodily experiences, and how knowledge emerges through physical engagement with the environment...”

Makers don't just make, we try things. This image is not a finished work-whatever that means. You could call it a "study." I had no idea what would happen if I put these materials together and it occurred somewhat by chance. I saw the spray enamel in the art store and thought, "What if?" Then I tried it. I discovered I liked the way it felt to move the paint across the acetate. Then I decided to try watercolor crayons. I liked that too. I also tried paint markers. Not so good. 

Trial and error. Doing something. Seeing what happens. Remaining open to possibility. Deferring judgment-which shuts down creativity. This is the maker mindset. Knowing that actions have consequences and that we can affect the world around us. 

Make mistakes. Take risks. Be vulnerable. This is what makers do.