Craft, the decorative and applied arts are condescended as strictly technique driven, practical, functional works. By contrast, the so-called fine arts are distinguished by creativity, uselessness and a conceptual nature. This is an entirely arbitrary distinction out of context with thousands of years of precedent and common sense.
Machined art is an oxymoron. More than lifeless it is pointless. What beauty we can extract from art is the interpretation of life by the human mind passed through the human hand. There is no sympathetic conversational narrative with a computer or a machine.
Traditional architecture holds man as subject, the center of design realized according to objective principles, a communally shared understanding. Modern architecture has reversed the balance of the subject/object relationship. The modern architect designs according to his individual, subjective whim. The occupant is reduced to just another object populating the structure among canned lighting, punched openings and toilets.
An inherent challenge in the practice of building is the time lag between design actions and negative consequences such as structural failure, redundancy and urban decay. Modernism rejects the traditional approach of addressing this difficulty: deliberate, empirical, generational improvement. Rather it promotes the perpetually new and highly conceptual widespread implementation of experimental designs using proprietary technologies, systems and materials.
The modern imperative to waterproof the building envelope with polymer, cement and other impermeable materials is ineffective and deleterious to indoor air quality. Water is both generated from occupants within and inevitably finds a way inside from the exterior making modern buildings entirely dependent on mechanical systems for air exchange.
Man is not separate from nature. Man is of nature. Therefore nature is the only universal basis of design of which we can be assured everyone can understand.
The International Style of early Modernism promoted an aesthetic stripped of all narrative symbolism and cultural reference. Its lingering legacy is an increasingly global, indistinct Utopia of no place in particular.
Urbanism is a 20th century theoretical ideology of imposing an highly engineered, eutopic master plan from a centralized authority. The rapid developments of Urbanism bear scant resemblance to traditional town planning developed generationally by members of a local community. Thesis XIX The imperative to automate seeks with religious fervour to establish a technological nirvana, a misguided determination to liberate mankind from the pain and pleasure of physical, intellectual and creative toil.
Modernism dismisses Beauty, Truth and Goodness as unknowable or relegates them to relative, subjective viewpoints. This results from a hyper-rational imperative which rejects sense and transcendence in our understanding of the world. Concepts that cannot be completely understood or explained through pure reason alone are rejected.
Interested in more content on a Philosophy of Craft?
Please visit my YouTube channel: A Craftsman's Philosophy
Contributed by Patrick Webb