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Distance: digital immersive technologies and craft engagement

Panneels, Inge; Helgason, Ingi; Smyth, Michael; Darzentas, Dimitrios; Hocking, Lynne; Shillito, Ann-Marie


Lynne Hocking

Ann-Marie Shillito


The DISTANCE project (digital immersive technologies and craft engagement) is a novel practice-led experiment in the use of immersive technology to enable dispersed craft practitioners to apply their haptic skills and material knowledge in a digital immersive space, learning from peers through remote collaboration. Craft practice is rooted in tactile interpretation of materials expressed through tacit, haptic processes (Ray, 2009). In this paper we ask; what role can haptic crafts skills play in a virtual studio environment? The paper reflects on the interaction between different craft disciplines and thus how different kinds of tacit knowledge impact on the act of creation in an immersive space (McCullough, 2004). How does a VR studio relate to a material
studio practice (Corazzo, 2019)? Conversely, what are the drawbacks of such places in terms of collaboration when craft practices are rooted in material knowledge and haptic skill? Through a series of semi-structured workshops, practitioners shared their experiences of working alone and
collaboratively within immersive space and discussed the unique challenges and opportunities of integrating and sharing haptic-driven creative processes and experiences with digital space. Thematic analysis of workshop discussions, interpreted by both craft and HCI experts, are
presented alongside analysis of the work produced. This paper describes the role that haptic skills can play within immersive environments for craft practitioners and discusses current challenges to be addressed and opportunities for future work in hybrid digital-physical spaces. The paper also reflects on the role a virtual studio space can play as a shared learning environment. What are the barriers to adopting a virtual studio practice using VR? How does a VR studio connect to a physical making place? It is becoming increasingly important for creative practitioners to gain digital skills and competencies, both for creative production and for
collaboration (Palani, 2022, Helgason et al, 2023). While the Covid pandemic meant that many more activities were conducted online or through digital means, this technological transformation has been underway for many years already (Cavalheiro et al, 2020). In the United
Kingdom, the term “CreaTech” has been coined to describe the emergence and importance of this intersection where digital and data skills meet creativity (Bahkshi et al, 2019). Finally, the paper reflects on what role a virtual studio can play in supporting a sustainable craft practice: how does a virtual creative place that offers limitless options in terms of scale, material exploration, unhindered by physical limitations impact physical making practices?

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name Cumulus Conference: Connectivity and Creativity in times of Conflict
Start Date Apr 12, 2023
End Date Apr 15, 2023
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2023
Online Publication Date Apr 14, 2023
Publication Date Apr 14, 2023
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2023
Series Title Cumulus Conference Proceedings Series
Series Number 9
Book Title Connectivity and Creativity in times of Conflict: Cumulus Conference Proceedings Antwerp 2023
ISBN 978-94-0149-676XX
Keywords Metaverse; VR; digital fabrication; craftsmanship; haptic; remote collaboration; data driven innovation
Publisher URL
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Distance: Digital Immersive Technologies And Craft Engagement (accepted version) (149 Kb)

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