To conceptualise or to perceive: To create or to discover: To make decisions or to make mistakes: To plan or to act. These oppositions are familiar to anyone who strives to invent, as is the requirement to overcome them. Whether we work in sounds, words, or images, we only discover new possibilities in places that we do not fully expect. We create by revealing something to ourselves, by finding more than we anticipate, and by ending the game with more than we started with. In his “Notes for the Well-Lettered” Dubuffet praises the revelatory accident that reveals new possibilities in a resistant material.
Not, he says, by planning a result but “by facing away from the end result; gropings, going backwards!” Designers make these mistakes by exploring techniques, by encountering resistance in a medium and by tripping over their expectations. Physical media are not merely the support for a pre-planned result, but a field of discovery, process, and play. Is the computer such a media, with its own materiality, its own tactilities and resistances? Of course it is. But the economy of the computer, and its speed, can short circuit the alchemy of exploration, materiality and media.
In Fusion, Livia Lima and Jenny Man offer a sophisticated and targeted response to a condition many designers and teaching institutions face in the digital age. How much should we value the time and resources needed to explore the processes and material of printing and design? How important is it to learn the “archaic” crafts of design or re-learn the resistance that materials offer against easy manipulation? By integrating new and old technologies within an experimental design process, Man and Lima suggest that craft is not merely the ability to forge a material, or bend it to a given plan; rather, it is the generosity it takes to discover, in the process of making, the possibilities and meanings that no plan or abstract conception could anticipate.