Critical Making

Published On May 24, 2013 | By Greg Giannis | Zines

I recently received a zine that’s very difficult to obtain, as it was produced in limited numbers and produced by hand. It is called Critical Making and comprises a series of small booklets that look at the political, social, activist and even historical dimensions of the DIY culture, and includes contributions from artists, designers and makers. Critical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz in the field of critical technical practice and critically-engaged maker culture.

The format itself is reminiscent of punk zines and is made in this tradition: photocopying, hand binding, twine etc. The physical effort must have been huge as he created and distributed 300 copies. The limited-edition aspect of Critical Making and its aesthetic makes it an artwork in itself. Nevertheless, this critical discussion in art and technology deserves a more accessible platform so that a wider audience can benefit from the issues discussed.

What is Critical Making?

Matt Ratto (director of the Critical Making Lab at the University of Toronto), conducts research focused on what he calls critical making – “the idea that we can’t fully understand our technologies, and bring a critical understanding to them, simply by reading or talking about them. We need to, you know, make stuff”[1].

What many readers may not be aware of is the relevance of this publication in relation to the worldwide maker sub-culture. There has been a revival in DIY culture around the world and this is providing spaces for young and old to tinker and make. Maker-faires are held as a meeting place to showcase, make and exchange ideas.

Greg Giannis.

For a further exploration on critical making follow the link to listen to a recent, interesting interview with Matt Ratto and Spark’s Nora Young and check out CBC digital podcast programme Spark where you can listen to discussions on digital technology,  its impact and place in our world.



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About The Author

is an artist with a background in software design engineering. Mostly working with new media, he incorporates the writing of software into his practice, creating new and innovative works. His work has been exhibited locally and internationally and he has presented papers at international media art conferences.

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