As a bit of a technophobe, one of my biggest fears when deciding to return to university to study for my MA was I knew I would have to face new technologies head on. When I studied for my undergraduate degree, back in 2005, I didn’t give new technologies a thought, we didn’t have ease of access to 3D printing or lasers, and I am quickly learning that these are the technological advances that have come to decorate the landscape of contemporary jewellery.
I think back to the recent Association for Contemporary Jewellers’ talk I attended at the SOJ, where in celebration of the 20:20 Visions exhibition in the Vittoria Street Gallery, ACJ Chair, Terry Hunt was in conversation with our Head of School, Stephen Bottomley and Emily Kidson. In keeping with the visionary theme, questions were asked about the role of new technology in each of their work. Both their comments really struck a chord with me, it was as if Kidson read my mind, declaring that she was happy to ignore new technology, she expressed a desire at some point to explore new technologies, but on her own terms and in her own time which I really admired. Bottomley’s comments were equally as reassuring, his work encompassing some of the most historical techniques and materials hand in hand with new technologies.
In our workshop this week, we were asked to discuss in groups a future scenario and invent a ‘jewellery’ item considering future bodies, future materials and future tools. We had 1 hour to prepare a presentation and prototype. Unsurprisingly I gravitated towards others that are also skeptical of the role new technology is increasingly playing in our everyday lives, the lovely Hannah Chapman and Chloe Henderson. We quickly agreed that we wanted to create our own digital portable panic room. This would act as a personalised safe space for when you just need a little breather from our high-tech world. Chloe coined a great name, meaning an unfilled space; a gap and LACUNA, the virtual panic room was born.
Lacuna would work in synch with your body, carefully monitoring your vitals and anxiety levels, the palm sized sensor would detect just when you needed that ‘time out’ the most. Perhaps it will provide a feeling of weightlessness, a comforting voice, a soft and tactile environment, the choice is yours!
As I start to unpack technology and crucially its relationship with tools, technique and materials – I don’t mind admitting that I wrongly always thought of only new high-technology. It’s refreshing to grasp that just because you are applying new technology to your work, it doesn’t automatically make it innovative and that older technology or low technology in new hands can be just as exciting and inventive.
‘The most important innovators often don’t need any technologies – just imagination and acute sensitivity to people’s needs.’ Geoff Mulgan
So, have I changed my opinion? In reality, I am not sure how using technology to fight technology would really work and I know I don’t want to use high-technology unnecessarily. However, I do feel that I have faced and overcome a little nagging voice in my head, and utterly liberated and inspired to explore how technology can work for me and certainly not something I should fear. I am heavily weighted towards a historical and traditional perspective, I hope that I can achieve the optimal balance, exploiting new technologies where relevant and in doings so allowing my work to become current and aid shaping a unique artistic identity.