I’ve recently returned from a trip to the USA. The Chipstone Foundation brought together the majority of the exhibitors in the Tool at Hand and a group of historians for a weekend symposium of discussion around the issues raised during the life of the project so far. This all happened at the Milwaukee Art Museum and a little way North of the city at the Chipstone collection.

The brief, to make a piece of work with one tool and to reflect upon this in a film, brought into sharper relief how makers talk about making. The pivotal nature of the tool’s role in the making shifted attention to the act of making and the triadic interplay between actor, tool and material. In many of the artists’ accounts the tool assumed a highly agentive and sensitising role. The range of resulting interpretations of the brief seemed to invert the notion that instructional language (in this case the brief) has a clarity or concretion when compared to acts that are typically held to be difficult to describe – such as making. The apparently singular phrase, ‘one tool’ had become a moveable feast of flexible meaning in some of the approaches, a couple perhaps at the very edge of poetics.

A thought-provoking weekend of discussion, leaving many intriguing loose ends and provoking new avenues of future thought and talk.

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