a modern-looking quilt with three green hexagonal sections, joined to sections of fabric that are black with grey markings

Image: “Weaver’s Web” game clue quilt created by Anastasia Salter

Maker-faires are associated with some of the best – and worst – aspects of STEM and Silicon Valley tech culture. The term brings to mind experimentation through hands-on work, sometimes for the sake of solving a problem, but more often simply to see if something can be done or made in a way that compels or moves a viewer. However, those solutions and experiments too-frequently reflect neoliberal, misogynist, racist, and settler-colonial assumptions about what types of making are valued.

Critical making explores the intersection of theory and practice (as demonstrated in work such as Roger Whitson and Dene Grigar’s 2014 Critical Making session at MLA and Jentery Sayer’s 2017 edited collection Making Humanities Matter), and particularly invites us to think about the importance of “doing” when studying digital art and media. The HASTAC Critical Maker Faire applies an intersectional feminist lens to maker-faire practices and technologies, considering how we might bring more inclusive feminist, anti-racist, and decolonial practices of making into our pedagogy and practice.

Critical Maker.Space is coming to HASTAC 2019! For those who don’t know it, HASTAC (pronounced “haystack”) is the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, Technology, Alliance and Collaboratory, “an interdisciplinary community of humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists changing the way we teach and learn” (hastac.org).

This 90-minute workshop, led by four researchers with experience in critical making as pedagogical and scholarly expression, invites HASTAC 2019 makers to share their work and methods in an open workshop. The session will begin with a 10-minute introduction to critical making, during which we will outline our goals of troubling the ways “maker” is currently centered in the norms of STEM and assigned primarily to white, cis-male, bodies and communities.

Makers will then set up in faire-style spaces in which they will engage in different short hands-on experiments with participants. Participants will thus leave having not only listened and seen, but also having made their own discursive artifacts.

We will close with a 10-minute debriefing asking participants to consider the tools or approaches they just used and how they might facilitate shifting epistemologies of making.

The organizers seek makers, including but not limited to:

  • Textile artists, including embroiderers, subversive stitchers, quilters, and makers of expressive clothing
  • Wearable makers, including those who integrate circuitry into garments and devices intended for personal use
  • Glitch artists and disrupters, including those who intentionally break or transform the workings of existing technology through remaking software, hardware, and aesthetics (think possessed Furby installations, etc)
  • Procedural artists, including bot-makers and others who use tools such as Tracery to make expressive automated remixes, artwork, and commentary
  • Community-based crafters, tinkerers, and makers

The workshop is scheduled on Friday, May 17 9am – 11:45am. The conference runs the evening of May 16 through the evening of May 18, 2019 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To indicate your intention to participate, please fill out the following form by May 10.