The Digital Immersive Technology and Craft Engagement (DISTANCE) Project is a collaboration between Applied Arts Scotland and Soluis Studios. It supports craft practitioners to extend haptic making-experiences into a digital space shared with others, offering alternative places of making to explore, extend and evaluate instances of creativity, creative development, experimentation, collaboration and skills exchange. Working collaboratively with makers across diverse craft disciplines, CONTACT encourage them to find alternative ways of experiencing meaningful making experiences; to find additional value and opportunity to enhance product and service understanding and appreciation; and to consider the ways they can harness the economic and environmental advantages of immersive technologies.
The project has operated in two phases: (1) initial research and development to identify and research appropriate, user-friendly digital technologies that were then introduced to and tested by a cohort of six professional makers, with initial development of a framework capturing craft practitioner interaction with digital technologies (completed); (2) in-depth testing of the framework and outcomes with nine professional applied artists from across Scotland (in progress).
This project has been transformative to the practice of participating makers, supporting them to innovate processes and ways of engaging with each other, new markets and existing markets in new ways. Evaluation of the first phase determined that this project provided opportunities for “meaningful play”, increasing the sense of connection between people within digital spaces regardless of the physical distance between them (“you can move around and see what other folk have done, as you might during an in-person workshop”) and has been “life changing”.
Immersive digital technologies offer unique opportunities for craft practitioners to create tailored experiences for others to engage with their processes and the objects they create, whether these are physical or digital. The initial phases of this project have explored interactions between craft practitioners over short and medium physical distances as well as considering the ways that practitioners (wish to) engage with audiences.
The learning and applications of this work are relevant globally, and this session aims to reveal how this project can be extended internationally to support immersive craft-based interactions and audience development.