DIGITAL ARCHIVE OF SKILL
The Naked Craft Network seeks to research how contemporary craftspeople are utilizing digital technologies to promote, expand and shape their craft practices. We have identified four initial areas where craft plays a key role in the digital economy: first, as a tool for learning (so many craftspeople have learned techniques on-line, or act as teachers via on-line tools like Youtube); second, as a forum for soliciting financial and professional opportunities ranging from grants and exhibitions to teaching; third, as the chief mode of connecting to their national, provincial and local craft organizations (the Canadian Craft Federation is primarily an on-line group, and the Ontario Crafts Council has just finished an ambitious on-line rebranding campaign); fourth, as an important source of revenue generation, whether this is from sales via individual craftspeople's websites or larger craft sales sites like Etsy, which generated $895 million in sales in 2012.
An exciting component of the Naked Craft Network is the creation of a Digital Archive of Skill. The goal of this Archive is to record craftspeople making work in their specific materials from the perspective of the maker. Traditionally craftspeople at work have been filmed from the perspective of the viewer - this project will turn the lens to capture the viewpoint of the maker. Furthermore, these gestures will be analyzed from a regional perspective to see variations in craft production.We will draw on expertise from the interdisciplinary projects we have established with our institutional collaborators, Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, This is How We Do It, a research collaboration with Beamish Gallery (Durham County) and Culture Lab at the University of Newcastle, a founding partner in the AHRC funded Creative Exchange Network. The Canadian partner is NSCAD University's Centre for Cultural Technology and Innovation. The data gathered from working with craftspeople on the Naked Craft exhibition, the Make/workshops and the Digital Archive of Skill will form an important source for analysis for the larger goal of understanding both the cultural and economic impacts of Canadian craft.
The Naked Craft Network has already established key contacts in Scotland and the UK for Canadian craftspeople. We are utilizing digital technologies to make the project succeed across nations. We are also part of a large application to Canadian Heritage to use our data to brand Canadian craft. It is imperative that we create accessible ideas and visual/media identities for craft so that it can build its audiences, leading to greater economic impact.