Research Critique 3 – Critical Making

First coined in 2008 by Matt Ratto (seen on the featured image), the term ‘Critical Making’ was used to describe the process behind combining ‘Critical Thinking’ and ‘Hands-on Making’. This meant using physical material and technology to analyses and show a deeper understanding for social issues. In Critical Making, there is no longer a divide between critical theory and artistic practice, but the practice itself is critical and philosophical.

Standards methods of technological design has placed too much emphasis on efficiency and productivity. This has been so overpowering that it has led to the lack of emotions, cultural richness and human-oriented values in our daily interactions with objects and daily activities. The phrase “man conforms” is technology-centered, rather than people-centered. We have unknowingly allowed technology and its products to take first place and lost focus of our intrinsic human traits such as curiosity. Hence, this propelled the establishment of Critical Making which addresses what technological designs lacks- or lost.

Critical Making is noted to have similarities with Critical Designing because both of these practices are out to provoke emotions, thoughts and feelings within our fast-paced, efficiency-driven environment. However, unlike Critical Designing which is centers around an end-product, Critical Making has placed its emphasis on the process. With that, I have a video to visually aid this concept.

This video shows a professor trying to put forth a proposition that students should put away their expectations that weighs them down and goes on to smash his laptop. This provocative act clearly demonstrates the very fact that students have too much pent up notion of how a typical class was suppose to be, maybe possibly built up by other professors as mentioned in the video, leading to the mention of expectations. Amidst this, students has lost themselves and this was reflected when he unknowingly took his laptop and smashed it. It is more than just the sudden peak in volume why students got shocked and I believe it points back to the pre-conceived assumptions students already have in-build within themselves.

This entire act did not end the professor with an object but instead his message was driven through the “final prototypes existing only as a remnant of the process”-the shattered laptop due to the smashing.

By re-inventing approaches and creations, it can open up new possibilities that was once rejected or unthought of. Critical making help both the the public and the designers focus on the lived experience of making and the role this plays in deepening our understanding of the socio-technical environment. In conclusion, I would also like to suggest that Critical Making has an invitational element to it. It invites people to connect to the world. Being a maker basically gets the public to acknowledge that someone somewhere made something and it didn’t just fall from heaven. Hence, the choices made by the designers, which may often be open sourced, implemented into the object will impact the public and in case of Critical Making, intervenes in societal issues.


Micro-Project 3 – Together Split

I would like to title our piece (done up by Alicia, Brian, Shaojie and myself) “family house”. It depicts how despite objects are being passed around the family members in different rooms, it still stay within the same one house- almost presenting a paradox just like the project title “Together Split”. With this concept, we translated it to our video, the multiple screen being the rooms in the house, the entire video representing the house itself, the dish/bowl/pot/water being the objects and lastly us as the family members.
It was a scene in the house of the process of a dish being made, cooked, eaten and washed.

This was shot at multiple locations. The various locations were outside ADM, Alicia’s dormitory, the pantry and the toilet. This stretch was due to logistic issues.

With these 4 lines,
(Q1) “wow this vegetables looks so fresh”
(Q2) “ah boy cook finish already come and eat”
(Q3) “mm delicious”
(Q4) “ok time to do the dishes”
we tried to establish the garden, the kitchen, the dining room and the kitchen again respectively.

In order to execute this, we took visual cues directly from the screen. Perhaps the only few instructions given beforehand was everything was to be in the middle so the grass was dropped in the middle, the plate to be shot in the middle as well.

But of course, not everything turn out according to the plan (40min plan to be exact), we actually realised that the final cycle was actually slightly laggy and at the same we also still found it so short– fickle minded us!

Personal reflection:
Yes it might not necessarily but the best production level or entertaining however at least to me the dishes/eating family home scene is relatively clear. Found the exercise actually pretty fun- maybe it’s because we took this so seriously and even went to the extend of taking the pot that made me want to join in the spontaneous-ness of my group or the tedious process of swopping phones just to get the screen order right that gave me a sense of satisfaction when we finish it ON TIME.

Out of all the Micro-Projects,

  1. Which project did you feel you had the most creative control? Why?
    It has to be “Creating the third-space”. It could possibly be because it was a solo curation project. This project was done on my Instagram and the fact that I knew my account followers, following and tendencies best, I could curate content I knew would get my participants to act a certain way and maximise participation– which was humour. (almost like SEO but social media context)
  2. Which project had the most unpredictable outcome? Why?
    “Together Split” had the most unpredictable outcome. There was too many deciding factors as compared to the other 2 projects that could possibly go wrong. Wifi connectivity, coordination, logistics to name a few. The biggest factor would have to be that fact that it is live. This very factor means that we are unable to edit, and also that it is one-time off, the moment anything or anyone even screws up we have to redo. It is made even more challenging because we are all in extremely difficult locations speaking over 1 platform. This aspect made it the most different from the other 2 projects.
  3. Which project best illustrates the concepts of DIWO & Open-source? Why?
    I would like to say “Creating the third-space” honestly. Even though it was curated by 1 person from my perspective, its participation reach expands to those following that account(“others” within DIWO) and the hashtag(“openness of the project”). In fact, i feel like we have to look at it from a broader perspective, the hashtag #1010adm was created by 2, Serena and Lei, and their students executed it in their various style, creating a community together with their followers and those who participated. 
    I bring up this screenshot as evidence:

    The characteristics are so evident that it has sparked conversations!Another characteristic is the fact that this project allows for maintenance and up-keeping to keep it alive. This further elaborated in the post I made for this particular project.

    Personally, I have enjoyed these projects alot! It has opened my eyes to how interaction can be enhance on social media. A lot of times, (with reference to my project “Time is our zero-sum game.”), social media is branded and experienced in a very self sufficient, self centered manner which is such a paradox considering its reach! 🙁 So, I am glad to be able to enjoy social media in the interactive manner it was meant to be and to see its beauty again!



My chosen object is my polaroid camera.

These are my orthographic drawings.

To view at higher resolution:

I found drawing the polaroid particularly challenging because it has mainly curved edges and many layers. In fact, I think it is this particular attribute that gives the polaroid it’s unique features of being portable and its ‘cuteness’ considering that it’s a Japanese product.

Its rounded edge also made the 2 perspective drawing difficult.


For this task, I partnered with Sylvia and mainly in charge of the 3d portion.

I referenced this video for this task:

It mainly utilises the ‘Stake and Strand’ method.

Initially while doing, it was rigid and I couldn’t keep the rattan strand flat. Also, it kept breaking and splitting.

Then I did some research and found out I had to soak the rattan in water first to make it more malleable. At the same time, while waiting, I decided to try out another method- the ‘hexagonal plait’ method with reference to this video:

I used anything heavy to keep my rattan in place and from coiling up.

I decided to ditch this method because it required for the rattan to be parallel however despite the weights i still couldn’t get in parallel or even equally spaced. Hence, i went back to my previous method.

After much perseverance,

To view at higher resolution:

Highlight features/strengths/weakness of the weave pattern:
1. The weave criss crosses alternatively around a strand, providing a neat structure.
2. When done right, the weave is firm and keeps its shape because of the amount of tension that is build up in the binding points.
3. The weave pattern requires a constant strength, not too hard or not too soft. When I pulled too hard, the rattan would broke. When I didn’t pull hard enough, there will be gaps. Both of which, I have experienced. 

4. Being constant also affects the shape of the final product- to avoid being lob-sided.