Critical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz that explores how hands-on productive work ‐ making ‐ can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society. It works to blend and extend the fields of design, contemporary art, DIY/craft and technological development. It also can be thought of as an appeal to the electronic DIY maker movement to be critically engaged with culture, history and society: after learning to use a 3D printer, making an LED blink or using an Arduino, then what?
The publication has 70 contributors ‐ primarily from contemporary art and academia ‐ and its 352 pages are bound in ten pocket-sized zine-like volumes. The project takes the topic of DIY culture literally by printing an edition of 300 copies on a hacked photocopier with booklets that were manually folded, stapled and cut. Academic publishing is at a point in history where it deserves to be questioned, and this project proposes that a small-scale run on a photocopier by one person can have more impact than an academic monograph from a major university press.
The 300 finished copies were primarily given away for free to project contributors, individuals and institutions important to them. Some of the handmade copies were traded for reviews, photographs, videos, lectures and were given to library archives. As of February 2013, approximately twenty hardcopies exist, and the project is exploring wider distribution formats that challenge the medium of academic publishing.
Ten booklet pack, hand-stamped title plate, string, envelope containing stickers and map.
CONTENTS (Version 2012-11-14-1225)
"Critical Making is a masterpiece. It's not just the best and most important book I've read in more than a year; I firmly believe thousands of people need to read this. Urgently. Critical Making is one of the most important books ever compiled about the DIY movement."
"Garnet Hertz's zine series, Critical Making, reclaims maker culture from mainstream, commodity fetishism and celebrates the politics, edginess and rigor of the movement. The ten booklet collection is a treasure trove of fabulously insightful and inspiring essays that will connect with new as well as committed practitioners."
"Critical Making is a momentous publication. Its importance reminds me of how the early nettime readers addressed the politics of digitally networked culture; only Critical Making does this to the tangible."
"...Critical Making is also a courageous project. While acknowledging the role and importance of O'Reilly and Make Magazine in popularizing the DIY culture, the publication asks us to look at aspects of the DIY culture that go beyond buying an Arduino, getting a MakerBot and reducing DIY to a weekend hobby. Critical Making thus embraces social issues, the history of technology, activism and politics... CM is not the anti-Make Magazine, it is simply an alternative, a forum for electronic DIY practice to discuss hacking, making, kludging, DIYing in a less sanitized, mass-market way."
"What I find wonderful about Critical Making is the numerous voices ranging from academics to a lowrider bike club writing on the maker topic. It shows how broad based the interests and concerns are, the incredible diversity of people involved and the density of thought invested in making and the movement; you will not find this scope on making anywhere else."
"In ten little booklets, Garnet Hertz has assembled with haiku-like economy the voices of artists, teachers, and critics who, over the last few decades, have passionately kindled, nurtured, and shaped the multifaceted, often divergent, energies of a DIY movement that has sought to democratize and humanize the technologies of communication and control."
Contributor List: Mitch Altman (Noisebridge), Francois Bar (RideSouthLA), Marie Bjerede, Tafarai Bayne (RideSouthLA), Julian Bleecker (Nokia), Albert Borgmann (U Montana), Jonah Brucker-Cohen (Parsons), Anne Burdick (Art Center), Daniel Charny (Royal College of Art), Marisa Cohn, Ginger Coons (U Toronto), Chris Csikszentmihalyi (Art Center), Michael Dieter, Carl DiSalvo (Georgia Tech), Dale Dougherty (Make Magazine), Paul Dourish (UC Irvine), Rob Duarte (Florida State University), Anthony Dunne (Dunne & Raby), Ylva Ferneaus, Peter Flemming (Concordia), David Forbes (Cathode Corner), Alex Galloway (NYU), Benjamin Gaulon (Recyclism), Reed Ghazala, Ken Gregory, Johannes Grensfurthner (Monochrom), Esben Hardenberg (Innovation Lab), Garnet Hertz (UC Irvine), William James Hollaway (Real Rydaz), Henry Jackson (Real Rydaz), Natalie Jeremijenko (NYU), Daniel Jolliffe (U Ottawa), Brian Kane (RISD), Denisa Kera (National University of Singapore), Otto Khera (RideSouthLA), Leonard Koren, Stephen Kovats, Stacey Kuznetsov (Carnegie Mellon), Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Golan Levin (Carnegie Mellon), Silvia Lindtner (UC Irvine), Liz Losh (UCSD), Geert Lovink (Hogeschool van Amsterdam), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Roger Malina (Leonardo), Michael Manalo (Rare Studio), Matthew Manos (verynice), Karen Marcelo (Survival Research Labs), Richard Maxwell (CUNY), Toby Miller (UCR), Helen Myers (Real Rydaz), Rebecca Niederlander, Julian Oliver (Critical Engineering), Mark Pauline (Survival Research Labs), Eric Paulos (Berkeley), Allison Powell (London School of Economics), Fiona Raby (Dunne & Raby), Matt Ratto (University of Toronto), Tim Regan (Microsoft), Niklas Roy, Craig Saper, Gordan Savičić (Critical Engineering), Frank Apunkt Schneider (Monochrom), Phoebe Sengers (Cornell), Jay Silver (MIT), Scott Snibbe, Benjamin Stokes (RideSouthLA), Kristen Stubbs (Toymaker), Josh Tanenbaum (Simon Fraser), Danja Vasiliev (Critical Engineering), George Villaneuva (RideSouthLA), Nicolas Villar (Microsoft), McKenzie Wark (New School), Patricia Watts, Norm White (Ryerson), Amanda Williams (Wyld), and Kaiton Williams (Cornell).
Acknowlegments: The term 'Critical Making': Matt Ratto. Funding: Paul Dourish, Gillian Hayes, NSF. Transcription: Amelia Guimarin, Jessica Kao, Maroof Moral, Sarah Choukam. Booklet labor: Amelia Guimarin, Jessica Kao, Max Hertz, Emma Hertz, Kohl Hertz, Dahlia Hegab, Vahan Hartooni, Rachel Rose Ulgado. Hacked photocopier courtesy of: Jason Cleaver, Jim Doyle. Facilities: Department of Informatics at UC Irvine. Inspiration: Mitch Altman vs. Tim O'Reilly.