Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Impractical Workers of the World, Unite!


Recently found out about a new organization called Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA).

According to their website:
"Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts is a new organization for those who make experimental or conceptual work with obsolete technology....Impractical Labor is a protest against contemporary industrial practices and values. Instead it favors independent workshop production by antiquated means and in relatively limited quantities.
Economy of scale goes out the window, as does the myth that time must equal money. Impractical Labor seeks to restore the relationship between a maker and her tools; a maker and her time; a maker and what she makes. The process is the end, not the product. Impractical Labor is idealized labor: the labor of love."

Their motto is "AS MANY HOURS AS IT TAKES".

Finally, an organization that celebrates those of us who toil away in our dusty little garrets, poking and daubing and putting things together verrrrrry slowwwwwly! Of course I had to join up.

If you suspect that you, too, are an impractical labourer, and want to know more, here is a link to their website:

3 comments:

Doug Stowe said...

I don't think there is anything impractical about quality work. You do something joylessly and inattentively, and you have to do it again because you screwed up, but this time you're pissed. There is an article in this month's Woodwork Magazine by Japanese craftsman Toshio Odate challenging craftsmen to return the high moral ground they occupied in our cultural past. People these days don't seem to even know they are suffering, but a return to joyful labor is, in my mind not impractical, but essential. I thank one of your faithful readers Dana Jones for pointing me to your blog. My own is Wisdom of the Hands.

moonbindery said...

Thanks for your comments, Doug, and I totally agree with what you say.

My impression of of ILSSA (which was started by a couple of artists)is that they also share your philosophy, and that the term "impractical labour" is meant to be a bit ironic. In a world where work is so focused on "practicality" that it reduces people to being cogs in a machine, making things for the love of it is viewed by many people as being impractical, but, as you say, is actually essential.

The Woodworking article sounds really interesting, and I'll definitely check it out (and also your blog). Japanese craftspeople are lucky, as Japanese culture does value its craftspeople. Wish it was the same in the West.

Doug Stowe said...

I appreciate the point of something being made in an "impractical" manner as a statement against the falsely practical culture we live in. James Krenov called one of his books, "The Impractical Cabinet Maker", making exactly the same point.

It is all a matter of view and of values. Some would cut all the trees and exterminate any species that stands in the way of their objectives. Matti Bergström, Finnish brain researcher calls our society "finger blind" and consequently "values damaged". Just as a blind person cannot see the outlines of the object, the finger blind cannot perceive its intrinsic value. And of course one of the most significant values is the loving attention with which an object is made.