Last Saturday I made my way down the coast to the Great Northern Way Campus to take in Vancouver’s first incarnation of a Maker Faire. Many of the exhibits managed to incorporate art, engineering, reclaimed materials, and nostalgia. Take, for example, the deconstructed Furbies, even more disconcerting stripped of their synthetic hides, still myopically blinking and gurgling.
Maker culture clearly has a proclivity for the whimsical; many of the conversations at the Faire were around inserting art into public, industrial spaces. Leanne Prain spoke about reclaiming urban environments with knitted graffiti; ContainR, a rusted shipping container featured at the Olympics, was hung with milk-bottle dragons, a projector, and a screen to become a gallery space.
And of course there were the robots. The Mondo Spider was the stuff of nightmares, but the show-stealer was the more democratic Arduino, on display at every turn. A cobbled-together 3D printer churned out plastic shapes. How many of its component parts can a 3D printer print? Most of the structural ones, I suppose. How long before robots can recreate and reassemble themselves?
But for me the highlight of Maker Faire was Rachael Ashe’s book art. As much as I love the print book as immutable physical art object, I am also interested in its potential as a canvas. I love that print books allow readers to engage creatively in a way that has a physical manifestation–that is, I am moved by the idea that the act of reading can change the read object as much as it changes the reader. For this reason I’ve always wanted to publish a book with uncut leaves, so readers would have to transform each page they read. But maybe this open-ended, creative dialogue is a better and ultimately more rewarding solution than an interaction imposed by the publisher would be.