Reading Response – The Sympathy of Things by Lars Spuybroek

In Lars Spuybroek’s 2011 book The Sympathy of Things I agree with the idea in the first section that “as all craft moves toward design, all labor must move towards robotics”. I have been using digital design for a few years, and I often feel as though I am missing the craft nature of artwork. While I frequently ponder this question of craft and human input while working with machines, I’ve struggled to articulate how craft plays a role in CNC fabricated art. I appreciate how Spuybroek has reframed craft in this book and recognized that today’s CNC machines can fabricate complicated interconnections and unique parts, unlike the factory machines and molds criticized for having only one mode of operation: mass replication. This ability to create unique parts, changing the operation of the tool each time, allows for greater creativity and craft in the design phase, and as Spuybroek states, these new digital relationships create a dynamic merging of the carving and modeling ideas at the same time. While I agree with many of the claims in this excerpt, I do think the tangents on handwriting, butchers, and more seem unnecessarily long and drawn out.

2 thoughts on “Reading Response – The Sympathy of Things by Lars Spuybroek

  1. I am often wondering what role craft plays in my own practice, and admittedly often move towards the techniques and mediums that employ the most (hand) craft. Your note about the CNC’s “ability to create unique parts, changing the operation of the tool each time, allows for greater creativity and craft in the design phase,” is something I hadn’t considered before. If we can experiment more during the design phase, we will likely end up with a better designed object in the end, as we have had a relatively easy and inexpensive way to use trial and error during the process. Has me rethinking how I can utilize technology in my own practice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Josh,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the reading. I appreciate you bringing up the idea of uniqueness as a potential defining factor of craft. The idea that craft is not defined as physical vs. digital, but rather as unique vs. mass replicated is interesting to think about (and something that I feel like I agree with right now). I wonder what parts of “the craft nature” of your work you are missing.

    Best,
    David

    Liked by 1 person

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