The Handmade house is a project put together by Wide Open Road Art for Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed Festival, 2017. In various locations within Melbourne’s CBD four artists manually crafted a house frame from rudimentary materials in three two hour time slots. This process was linked via live streaming to another three artists in downtown Castlemaine. These artists responded simultaneously with 3D printing, development and installation of small, digitally manufactured houses in the Wide Open Road Art cabinets.
Throughout the work, themes regarding the double-edged nature of the house emerged; of nostalgia, the home as a sacred, golden place, but also of its flimsiness, transience, and even limiting nature.
The house is the ultimate item of modern super-consumption, particularly here in Australia. With its market value and consumer desire both at stratospheric levels, houses have rapidly become the objects that perhaps best speak of status, inequality and dominance of our environment. In The Handmade House we seek to highlight attitudes in the housing market that extend mass consumption practices of the 20th century – of rapid urban sprawl and quick construction, but also of feverish consumption and the creation of enormous disparities in wealth.
The show juxtaposes modern consumption and with new aspirations that have been placed on Maker and craft culture. With it we see the renewed value of laborious, often hand-made craft practices, but we also see previously unseen forms of making emerging, with new tools and capacities for distributed collaboration. Both of these rely on vibrant communities of innovation, exchange and co-operation, particularly facilitated by the internet. The show utilises the near-instant transfer of information from Melbourne CBD (of the laborious, traditional methods of manual timber construction) to our artists in regional Victoria, who digitally model and reproduce a structure at their remote location, using the homemade 3D printer. Thus we also explore the contemporary relevance of an ‘art centre’ like the Melbourne metropolis, and how regional areas are increasingly sites of innovation and vibrant making, involving both local and distributed communities, in distinctively new ways.