Natalia Krasnodebska is a tech savvy, classically trained goldsmith, and co-founder of the LadyTechGuild; Philip H. Wilck and Tiia Vahula specialise in radical design for 3D printing and fabrication, as cooperative design studio, UTOPIA BLU; and product designer Noel Wilson has been employing tech-forward innovation for over 20 years. Italian jeweller Gio Sampietro engages in an approach he calls Artisanal Intelligence, constantly tipping the scales between the organic and the synthetic, and Dinuo Liao proposes a utilitarian approach to the human cravings for design, crafting practical tools from the latest technological means. In advance of their group show this November, they reflect with us here on the experiences they’ve had working this way, and what exciting developments have been the result.
Natalia: Having followed tech innovation my whole career, my jewellery practice has always been informed by my passion for technology. During my goldsmithing degree, I wanted to make very precise geometric jewellery and discovered that CAD modelling and 3D printing could help materialise the ideas in my head straight into physical reality, and sometimes even make things that were not possible by hand at all. That was magic! Even so, usually after 3D printing there is a laborious physical process of finishing, polishing and setting stones to finish a piece of jewellery.
My jewellery professor at the time warned me that these computers would replace our hard-earned tactile craftsmanship and skill, but I saw them as a complementary tool and I believe AI intervention is no exception. When I spoke with Matteo from oio about the SPAWN project, the most interesting take away from our conversation was just how critical the artist-as-curator was/is along the whole technological process. From choosing which images to train the AI on, to tweaking the prompts for the output, to selecting which designs the AI created to develop further… because even artists don’t work alone. Creation is a collaboration already, AI is just another tool in our group. Gio can elaborate!
Giosampietro: For every project I craft a miniature universe of processes and unstable algorithms. Then the universe makes the work. I call it Hypercraft. For the ‘Spawns’ collection of spoons, I created a novel toolbox of processes to spawn sinuous three-dimensional forms from the pixelated flat images we got from the artificial intelligence we trained. I really don’t feel that digital processing cancels the craftsmanship element, quite the opposite. It’s not about automation but rather, so to speak, an expansion of making by hand, of the language of traditional jewellery design: the outcome is hand-coded, which is even more handmade.
UTOPIA blu (Tiia/Philip): Our mission is to craft ethereal and fantastical realities through our work. We understand that these creations could be achieved through traditional craftsmanship, but it would require an immense amount of time and effort that simply doesn’t make practical sense.
While we do not heavily rely on traditional crafts, we have mastered the art of digital sculpting. With our own hands, we bring our visions to life in the digital realm. Our working process shares similarities with any creative endeavour, but it is seamlessly translated and executed within the digital environment.
Noel Wilson: Sewing has proven its utility and versatility over the past 20,000+ years and continues to be dominant in our objects. Mixing the stalwart of sewing and its trusted materials with the impossible forms of 3D printing, as well as our upstart new digital assistants, opens an array of lateral creative opportunities. With this melting pot of methods we play with capturing other objects, light, ideas, and foster utility and/or adornment in new ways. We have fun with it to help us see past imagined limitations.
CO The focus of the show is seemingly how to find an encounter between the digital and the physical that acknowledges both, and gives us a speculative idea on what we might see more of in the future, from these kinds of alliances. What feels important for you in presenting and working with this idea?
Natalia: Exactly! We saw the rapid development of ChatGPT* and text-to-image tools, the Apple VisionPro and got caught in the conversations with other artists of what if our entire future is digital? What does adornment look like then? Rather than sink into ‘either-or’ we wanted to explore the generative space of ‘and’…
In late 2022, when ChatGTP was released, I was reading two books, 12 Bytes, nonfiction essays about AI by Jeanette Winterson, and Terreform, a sci-fi anthology edited by Brian Merchant & Claire L. Evans. Both seemed to share the theme that as architects of our own world, why not shape it with optimism?
I had three questions to answer as an exploration of this moment: Could I automate all parts of the artistic process? Could I daisy-chain enough technologies to replace myself as an artist? Even though I don’t code, how hard could it be to build my own AI.
Giosampietro: In my practice the digital/ physical polarity has no meaning left. I sculpt with systems and that is my material, it’s a physical territory to explore rather than a tool. It’s a series of conversations, it’s about structures, recipes, rhythms, patterns, harmonies, systems that break, fold, grow and develop in real time. At the end of the day what I do is about how the world works and not about how it looks. I’m not copying the shapes of nature, rather its processes, and it’s ok to realise I can have control or zero control and just let things happen. That’s the whole point of it -I guess- in order to get a bit closer to a new breed of ornaments for the extreme present we live in.
UTOPIA blu (Tiia/Philip): The emergence of AI raises questions about the role of humans in the creative process. We believe that the digital world is an integral part of nature and its systems. As the digital world evolves, our role as designers may shift to that of mediators and curators.
In presenting and working with this idea, we emphasise the exploration of the unknown. Our goal is to expand people’s minds by crafting forms that possess a certain familiarity yet are entirely new and captivating. We strive to push the boundaries of imagination, inviting our audience to venture into uncharted territories and embrace the beauty of the unexpected.
CO What do you see in the combined picture of all of your work together that you hope is communicated for the audience/viewer? What do you hope they will perceive and take away from the experience?
The group: All the artists in this show explore the generative territory where art, craft, AI, and augmented realities intersect, offering a glimpse into a future that blurs the boundaries between the tangible and the digital.
We hope people will take away that these are all tools for artists to play with like a paintbrush. Digital tools are exciting, an extension of our creative minds, and a willing collaborator! Perhaps we will inspire viewers that our creative future is a realm of boundless possibilities.
Cover image: Oio & Giosampietro, SPAWNS, model#83, 2022, Photo Pepe Fotografia
CRAFTING DIMENSIONS: DREAMS OF AUGMENTED GEMS
Natalia Krasnodebska, UTOPIA BLU – Philip H. Wilck and Tiia Vahula, Noel Wilson, Dinuo Liao, giosampietro
The digital realm is endlessly generative but what value is there when there is nothing to hold? While digital and AI tools give artists a playground to morph and create, it is hard to replace the tactility of coveting cherished objects. What happens when digital innovation merges with traditional craftsmanship? Imagine a world where jewelry embodies AND transcends its physicality, embracing boundless possibilities. Is jewelry designed by AI imbued with the essence of authenticity? Can a QR code on your fi nger be jewelry? What happens when the lights go out and you feel the raised Braille that says ‘I am a gold ring’?
Opening Times: 08:30–16:40
Location: Five Ways Coffee Roasters – Kinkerstraat 186, Amsterdam, Netherlands