The First Share Festival Artmaker Bag

The Artmaker Bag 1.0 — this was the original. Currently in its third edition.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/brucesterling/albums/72157681946439696

The Share Festival Artmaker Bag

Bruce Sterling

Our purpose with the Share Festival tool kit is to encourage creative work in technology art.

Traditional artists have well-organized art-supply stores. But if you’re create the art-forms we more enjoy at Share Festival: interactive art, kinetic art, net.art, installations, device art and new-media interventions — you have no set place to go for tools.

Commonly our favorite artworks are made in machine-shops, fab labs, design ateliers and research & development studios: big, roomy, saw-dust-smelling places with laser cutters and 3DPrinters. We’re at ease with that reality, but with the Artmaker Bag, we’re looking for something more personal, more portable, attuned to the needs of the itinerant creative-technologists whose artworks are put on display at shows like ours, worldwide.

“Everyday carry” portable tool sets are not a new concept, so at Share Festival we researched many of them, extensively. We then winnowed them out to meet the pressing needs of our sophisticated and canny tech-art demographic.

Safety should come first (though it rarely does), so many of these hand-tools are time-tested, stable in form, and rooted in the Italian craft tradition. Women’s domestic craft gets extensive attention.

There are no power tools in the Artmaker Bag, because, although we admire drill-presses and power-saws, we feel that heavy, high-voltage tools are best deployed in a controlled studio setting. Instead, we feature tools for light electronics and precision mechanics, for artwork maintenance and repair, and for prototyping exercises. The Artmaker is a tool set you could take on sabbatical; it can’t do everything, but it’s inspiring, human-scaled, a pleasure to use, and can manage a lot. If you’re a teacher, these are a set of tools that might do well in class projects.

Commonly, people who invent tool-sets want to sell them. We don’t do that. We’re a culture festival, and we want to share. So we’ve assembled a round dozen of these Artmaker tool bags and offered them as personal gifts to Share Festival supporters.

We’ve asked creatives we respect to use the Artmaker tool set to create artworks for Share Festival 2017. The resulting works will be put on public display in Torino, to show what can be done with a set of hardware that fits right over your shoulder.

Since these tools are genuinely being used for artworks, we’re pretty sure we’ll get a lot of suggestions for improvement. We will improve the kits; we’ll take advice gratefully and assemble better versions. But, we won’t sell them. We like the idea of a working tool-set that is never commercially available, and is presented in the world as a formal gesture of artistic respect.

The Share Festival Artmaker Bag should be personalized, and iterated. It should make the happy creative who possesses it feel more cherished, authentic and expressive. We hope the Artmaker Bag will be prized; not because it is an art prize, but because it’s an act of moral support.

Written by

one of the better-known Bruce Sterlings

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