Medium as the message in craft

In the feature article for 5.1, Ann-Sophie Lehman argues that successful representations of craft highlight their own materiality. Here she writes about Simon Leach’s video demonstrating the the Japanese kikuneri wedging technique

Leach walks up to the running camera and adjusts it to the table he is kneading on (Lehmann 2009).  The resulting close-up cuts off his head and shows only his hands and arms engaged with the clay while he is talking outside the frame.  Yet it is exactly this casual mode of recording, done by Leach himself, that helps the viewer identify with the material engagement documented here. By creating an almost too close visual contact with Leach’s body and the clay, the video images—a bit shaky and not quite in focus— create a distinct impression of the force and smoothness of the kneading motion.  As a consequence, the “hand in the brain” is triggered and the demonstration of Leach’s wedging becomes very effective.

Like the hand-colored Japanese photographs, the video images of kneading clay can better be understood if their own materiality is considered alongside the material processes they show.

Here is the video:

So what’s going on here? What is this ‘hand in the brain’ that is triggered by the medium as message?

1 thought on “Medium as the message in craft

  1. Fantastic. For years now this is exactly how I have been documenting and expressing my experience of making…from the inside out. The nine members of Gray Street Workshop are in fact working towards an exhibition entitled “Process” opening in August this year in our project gallery which will be entirely about this sense of direct immersion. We’re filming now, mounting the camera on our own bodies enabling an intense perspective of each individual’s interaction with the material through their hands.

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