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Technology and society

Jack Chuter

Co-host of the Episode Party podcast, author of Storm Static Sleep: A Pathway Through Post-rock, editor at ATTN:Magazine.

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piqer: Jack Chuter
Thursday, 07 March 2019

Material Matters: Reviving Our Material Intelligence

It’s no coincidence that the information age, with all of its transient interactions and weightless digital ephemera, has rekindled an interest in physical objects and material craft. This new podcast by writer Grant Gibson explores the relationship between craftspeople and the material in which they specialise (Eleanor Lakelin on timber, Peter Layton on glass), through interviews that deftly toe the line between the technical minutiae and universal appeal. One leaves this podcast wanting to clutch the nearest object and form a tactile appreciation for its curves and edges. Such is the power of hearing a sculptor gush about the malleability of a particular wood or go deep on the behavioural characteristics of leather.

The final episode of this six-part series takes a different tact. Gibson speaks with writer Glenn Adamson about his new book, Fewer Better Things, in a conversation that feels like a divulgence of the podcast’s ultimate ethos: to help us understand that our relationship with material craft is dying, and that this concern reaches back further than a mere nostalgia for a simple, pre-internet existence. Adamson’s book urges us to inject empathy and intelligence back into our relationship with material. By informing ourselves about the creation process behind the objects in our life, we’re not only able to confront the ethical dilemmas that afflict their assembly (such as the ecological impact or human cost), but we also revive an appreciation for the physical exertion and artistry behind the act of creation. As Adamson points out, viewing the world through the lens of material intelligence is like understanding a whole new language—suddenly we’re able to read how humanity expresses itself through the objects we create.

Material Matters: Reviving Our Material Intelligence
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