Antiuniversity and Deinstitutionalisation

There’s some power in negating what already exists. Even if you reinforce the dominant institutions by accepting their framing and language. Anyway, without wishing to get into that, I’m intrigued by these anti-school systems that are popping up. This quote via Antiuniversity, who are reviving an original idea from – when else – 1968:

‘The schools and universities are dead. They must be destroyed and rebuilt in our own terms. These sentiments reflect the growing belief of students and teachers all over Europe and the United States as they strip aside the academic pretensions from their “institutions of higher learning” and see them for what they are – rigid training schools for the operation and expansion of reactionary government, business, and military bureaucracies.’

Source: Antihistory | Antiuniversity of London, The Antiuniversity of London – an Introdution to Deinstitutionalisation

Closer to home, Spacemakers ran The Brighton School in 2014, an art school disguised as a public art commission, and The Wild School ran in the  Lab for the Recently Possible in 2013.

Ruskin and the Maker Movement

I’m helping put together a conference later this month at the V&A called Maker Assembly. It’s an attempt to catalyse a more critical reflective discussion about maker culture, and add some more depth to our understanding of what making is about, and how we can do it better.

As part of that effort, I interviewed one of our speakers, Dean Brown about a project of his, the 7 Lamps of Making, in which he revisits the work of John Ruskin, the 19th Century art critic, who was a key influence on the Arts and Crafts movement, itself a resonant movement today.

You can read that article over on the Lighthouse website. As a little experiment in publishing and exposure, I also posted a version on Medium, to see if it got any traction or more visibility there.

Loughborough Market Town

Market Town

I spoke today at an event organised by Loughborough University Arts, as part of their Market Town programme. I promised I’d post my slides, and some useful links, and so here they are.

Makerspaces on the High Street

There is a great deal of interest in the rise of makerspaces and other sites of autonomous creative production. Can this energy be harnessed to power civic regeneration, and help create more liveable urban spaces? This talk draws on some research I co-authored for Nesta to set out an overview of where makerspaces came from, where they are now, and how they might contribute to the development of urban spaces.


From the event blurb:

As the growth of makerspaces, fab-labs, and community workshops continues we ask what opportunities could they hold for Loughborough and how could they support the town’s economic sustainability?

Recognised as sites of civic and social innovation, creativity and learning, makerspaces are increasingly seen as an exciting opportunity to support design, entrepreneurship, fabrication, manufacturing and technological innovation.

Key people writing about and working in this field will share their thoughts and ideas. The speakers will be:

  • Andrew Sleigh: Researcher, writer and producer and one of the researchers on NESTA’s recent UK makerspaces mapping project
  • Caroline Chapain: Lecturer at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Local Economy at Birmingham University.
  • Hannah Fox: Development Manager, Derby Silk Mill.
  • STEALTH.unlimited: A practice exploring the responsibilities and capacities of architecture in contemporary societies.

Market Town: a programme of new commissions and critical debate that sets out to re-imagine the future of Loughborough’s high streets.

Makers, come together

Barn Raising in Lansing, from Wikipedia (Copyright expired).
Barn Raising in Lansing, from Wikipedia (Copyright expired).

For several years now, I’ve been turning over the idea of a gathering of makers. Not a Maker Faire, that aims to bring new people into the fold, but a coming together of people who are already makers, or who are interested in making as a practice, a progressive movement; an energy that demands critical reflection. For want of a better word, let’s call it a conference, without dwelling too long on the baggage that brings with it. Continue reading “Makers, come together”