This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mini Maker Faire Brighton from a Distance

A week and 25 miles, both sufficient to offer some perspective and scintillating parallax but not so far as to obscure utterly in a haze over the horizon. A week ago Brighton held its first fabulous Mini Maker Faire on the opening weekend of the Brighton Digital Festival. The Festival rolls on,right now the Brighton Bar Camp is in full swing- or more likely a mildly jaded gentle start to a Sunday, but there's already an opportunity for us to stand back and look at the effort, the impact of the Maker Faire, and begin to consider what we can do next year.

Setting up- by Barnoid

 So, I'll warrant you are pondering, how did it go? I wasn't there. Hence the 25 miles reference. I was in Eastbourne, for reasons and excuses I have outlined earlier. However, 5463 people did make it, an amazing number, far beyond what we'd hoped for. With the greatest thanks to our lovely hosts at the Brighton Dome, who provided the venue for free (I know!), we have to admit that we pushed the space and the aircon to the absolute limit and beyond. From feedback we know a lot of visitors had a hard time getting around to see everything, and that some of the exhibitors came close to melting in the heat- huge thanks to Simon Smith for last minute volunteering and running around quenching collosal thirsts!

Roo & Simon bearing with fab cool water
Simonsmithster on hydration duty: photo by Rainrabbit

So what did I miss, bar heat exhaustion?  About 30 exhibitors had come from all points of the compass; Nottingham & Manchester hack space teams made particularly excellent group contributions, but to be honest there was just too much to mention, especially from afar, and besides, Andy Piper has done a fantastic write up of the day that covers it all much better than I could.  Because I wasn't there.

The brilliant Tim trying out Project-a-Sketch by Hacman : Video by Elsmorian

One factor that I think is well worth pointing out is that although we were very much a part of the Digital Festival calendar, and the Maker community does have a strong strand of computing based creativity which was on display at the faire, the craft community made a key contribution to the vitality and atmosphere of the day. It's a peculiar point I'm tucking away here in the depths of the post, but this hands on making of beautiful things through traditional and non-traditional crafts is an open engaging and accessible activity- a sharing and non-exclusive thing in the norse sense.  I loved the Kinetica Art Fair, but it's undeniable that the conceptual framework of art as displayed there was a barrier to engagement in the physical fabrication of items and the intellectual engagement of the audience as fellow creators.  In comparison to the enagaging, teaching, sharing and energising power of craft, art in the formal institutional tradition is stultifying, pacifying, and oppressively exclusive, without in any way being a more creative or meaningful enterprise.  I'm putting this very badly, and I do appreciate good art history (I could watch Andrew Graham-Dixon talk about anything!) but art today has put a wall around itself that physically repels much of society, and that makes people, lots of people, feel that they are not creative.

Anyway Charlotte Young puts this a lot better than I can (maybe I go a wee bit further) and she did so at Ignite London where I was deeply privileged to share a platform with her and many other far cleverer people than I.

Art Bollocks (or Stupid Kunst) - by Charlotte Young from chichard41 on Vimeo.

Time to take a break.  I shall blog more shortly.  Adieu.

No comments: