For Grégory Chatonsky, pioneer of net-art in France, the “present popularity for fablabs” is limited to the “possibility conditions” rather than the reality of “doing”. Since the founder of the collective Incident.net, hackerspace before its time, speaks from experience, Makery decided to publish this note, posted on its blog. In order to contribute to the debate…
They are getting organised and prepared. They are acquiring equipment, reading instructions and using forums. They are setting up the machines and carrying out tests. They will get to work, tomorrow.
The present popularity for fablabs meets the utopia of a productive emancipation. They could open up the possibility of another relationship towards production that would no longer be based at the end of the chain on consumerism and at the beginning of the chain on programmed obsolescence. A quick analysis of the situation jeopardises this revolutionary image, insofar as these fablabs are largely supported by private companies. They see in fablabs, like Google, the opportunity to delegate production in households, and thus set foot at an even deeper level into the domestic sphere from an emotional and existential point of view.
It is also about observing this popularity in the way it reveals itself. We are constantly meeting individuals who mean to or have opened a fablab. They reckon that with such a workshop, projects can be carried out. It is not in the least about questioning the goodwill of such approaches and their contemporary necessity, but taking a critical and distanced look on a way of doing things which is not in the doing and that gets enthusiastic about preparing the doing, staying in the possibility conditions. The machines that are set up allow you to “do things”, as one says, one puts all one’s energy into it. But most of the time, projects are only the reproduction of pre-existing models or develop spectacular aesthetics likely to receive several “likes” but ill-suited to deploy a truly aesthetic reflection.
There is clearly an orientation close to the one that existed a few years ago when many people were obsessed by software development. Every week one saw new software created by coder-artists allowing you to do this or that, and most often reproduced already existing software, but with less features. So there existed a real fashion for Max-likes, “like” in the sense of “same”. Enthusiasm was speculative: the work of art being physically based on software, creating software was similar to creating a meta-work of art including potential works of art. Most of the time, developers, worn out by the difficulty of their software development, only made a pre-critical and pre-aesthetic use of them. Formally, their works then looked alike with their inevitable pixels, glitches, flocculations and clouds of all kinds, their characters floating in space and other firemen’s mannerism of the said “digital” art.
In the same way, the fablab sucks up all the energies: one gets all excited about the idea of creating one, one finds financing (with the help of a speech, politically adapted to equitable and sustainable development), one buys, sets up and tests (night after night), it works more or less, sometimes it works, sometimes it breaks down. One spends one’s time repairing and defining parameters. One notices such or such component or machine is missing in order to be at last ready to…start. One remains in preterition, one anticipates, one stops, one starts again. In short, one has made the fablab an end in itself.
Tomorrow, work can start.
Grégory Chatonsky’s news :
January-March 2015: residence Extinct memories (prototype) with Dominique Sirois, La Chambre Blanche, Quebec (Canada) ;
May 2015: exhibition and residence Telofossils, with Dominique Sirois, Unicorn Art Center, Beijing (China);
May 2015: exhibition Dance with US & Emma, Franco-Japanese Institute, Tokyo (Japan).