Tacit dialogues is an on-going artistic research project exploring the traditional craft of glassblowing and translating implicit, bodily knowledge into digital data, experiences and objects. Participating artists are →Verena Bachl , →Elaine Bonavia, →Babette Wiezorek, →Philipp Weber, →Robin Hoske & Felix Rasehorn (WINT Design Lab).
« Can we translate the implicit knowledge gathered by bodily movements into digital data? Can we turn this data into tangible experiences?»
The Tacit Dialogues research deals with these and other questions in an artistic experiment that examines the process of glass artist Luke Holden while working on the Of Movement and Material pendant light series, designed by Philipp Weber. Of Movement and Material translates and materializes the rhapsodic dance of glassblowing and was produced for ANALOG, the brand of Berlin Glassworks.
“As society strives to become more digitized, the disconnection between our minds and hands grows,” Berlin Glassworks’ co-owner Philipp Weber observes. “As traditional handicrafts disappear, and human hands are often replaced by machines, Tacit Dialogues presents a new way to approach craft, creating a digital reference to the maker and celebrating new technologies and traditional skills all at once—thereby offering a new perspective on both.”
Tacit Dialogues is an ongoing, multidisciplinary research project exploring the performative qualities of glassblowing as a craft through the sensual and virtual dimensions of digital based technologies. The project kicks off with a satellite event at Berlin Glassworks during the renowned Gallery Weekend Berlin and is followed by an exhibition at feldfünf. Observing the dialogue between the glassblower, the material and his tools while creating an object, the collective aims to highlight the embodied knowledge assumed with the act of making. Using interactive and sensor-based tracking systems, Tacit Dialogues incorporate visual and spatial media to explore morphogenetic principles of emerging forms and embed them into human perspectives through machine-aided settings. By mapping this traditional craft by means of digital tools, the project reflects on the collaboration between the physical and the virtual in its manifold manifestations, treating them as equals in their parallel existence.
The first results of the research will be shown at feldfünf | Berlin-Kreuzberg. The exhibition is curated by Federica Sala. Throughout the exhibition various events will take place, including public talks, window exhibition during off hours, and kids’ workshops.
EVENT & EXHIBITION PROGRAM
During Gallery Weekend Berlin, the public is invited to Berlin Glassworks’ workshop to enjoy live glass-blowing and interactive data recordings
→ Berlin Glassworks GmbH
The indoor-outdoor event is open to the public by appointment only;
reservations are available via email@example.com
All guests must strictly adhere to current COVID safety practices and regulations.
08.05. – 21.05.2021
Exhibition Tacit Dialogues @feldfünf
→ feldfünf – Projekträume im Metropolenhaus
Opening Tacit Dialogues exhibition @feldfünf: 14:00-19:00
Tentative* Hours: 11:00-19:00 (Monday to Friday)
*Please double check feldfuenf.berlin for up-to-date visiting hours prior to your visit, as Covid-19 regulations are currently in flux.
Finissage Tacit Dialogues exhibition @feldfünf: 17:00 – 21:00
During the exhibition period there will be a workshop program for kids hosted by Berlin Glas e.V. @ feldfünf. For our younger audience, Berlin Glas & Elaine Bonavia will team up to run four hands-on glass workshops. Combining digital body tracking technologies with the traditional craft of glass fusing, each participant will be able to produce one glass panel with a body sketch and one glass panel with a hand sketch. The result is a colourful artwork that will be a formidable souvenir of a workshop centred on the fusion of old and new techniques!
Kiez Mobil glass workshop – Stringing Traces
2 h workshop, Registration required; 5 participants max.
Register by E-Mail under
Kiez Mobil glass workshop Stringing Traces
Kiez Mobil glass workshop Stringing Traces
Kiez Mobil glass workshop Stringing Traces
Kiez Mobil glass workshop Stringing Traces
Tacit Dialogues Talk | Richard Sennett in conversation with Philipp Weber & Babette Wiezorek
About a year ago we started our on-going creative research project called “Tacit Dialogues”. In collaboration with various artists and designers who work with digital media, we oppose the human-physical of the manufacturing process of our lights with a digital analysis. The goal is to use digital tools to bring out the implicit knowledge of the glassmaker.
As part of the Tacit Dialogues research, we also hosted a conversation with renowned sociologist and cultural philosopher Richard Sennett in May, which was live-streamed via YouTube. ANALOG’s artistic director Philipp Weber and product designer Babette Wiezorek talked to him about the question of what role craft still plays in an increasingly digitized world. Many of his thoughts and examples from music inspired us and will be used as we further our research. Here are some of the takeaways from the conversation with Richard Senett that we would like to share with you.
In his 2009 book, “The Craftsman,” Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics Richard Sennet examines the importance of the craft for individuals and society. Sennett’s approach here is that craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, and that good craftsmanship involves developing skills as well as focusing on the work rather than ourselves. With this in mind, he explores the work of craftspeople past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values and challenges common notions of what constitutes good work in today’s world.
We were very curious to hear what Richard Sennett had to say about ‘tacit knowledge’. Sennett’s answer:
Richard Sennett: “For me, tacit knowledge is a dialogic process in which you are very self-conscious about learning how to do something, then digest the newly learned and it becomes something that you do without thinking about it. Now you have the confidence of doing something without interrogating what you are doing. You just know how to do it in your body. This tacit knowledge – which is not habitual knowledge – is embodied knowledge. You expand the repertoire of what you can do tacitly.
Using music as an example, the idea is to look at the score or to look nowhere. That is the unconscious part, you are no longer self-aware at that moment but it is cynical. I teach my students to look at their hands and then close their eyes, even if they get the wrong notes, so there is nothing there but the actual sound. Maybe that’s true in glass blowing too: You look at the bowl and not at the pipe.”
TD: And what changes when high-tech tools are interposed?
RS: “The question is whether the high-tech tools that we have now, which are disembodied, actually diminish that kind of intelligence. Because there is no embodied action, only a representation on screen.
I last tried to teach a couple of students online. Hopelessly. The reason was that there was just the display of something in which there was no notion of the embodiment of this. I could watch them play or they could watch me play, but the notion of actually being able to reach out and touch something was missing. That is a question I have about technology, about what we call simulation. It is a way of disabling the way our brain structures work to make a connection between hand and hit. We’re developing all sorts of technologies where that is not the case.”
TD: Reflecting on our collaborations within the “Tacit Knowledge” series, in which the code represents the movement that the glassblower makes, Sennett wondered whether there is a possibility for a feedback loop where by altering the code you can alter the way he or she blows glass. We considered building a small tool for the glassblower that would signal him to simply make a different move.
RS: “This takes us to the current use of digitization among composers – not as a representation of something, but as a way to retrain physical work. In my art research organization Theatrum Mundi, we explored the very same thing with a dancer. The idea is to first digitize a movement and the sound that goes with it. Then this data is used and modified to create a new kind of performance that the dancer and the musician implement. So you get something that is interactive and true. In music, this goes back to a device called the theremin from the 1920s. When the theremin was first built, it turned the movement of the hand into a sound. A modern theremin, however, goes the other way: It suggests ways to move the hand.”
TD: Now what distinguishes repetitions of a machine with those by a human being?
RS: “When we talk about repetitions, I would like to give you an example from music: Do you know the Schubert song ‘Erlkönig’? About the little boy who is snatched by this ghost. In the piano part of that, there are repeated chords and notes that underpin the sense of terror that the kid is in. They repeat again and again and again, very rapidly, very difficult, very fatiguing. The point about them is that from measure to measure they change; you have the same note, the same written value, but to pull this off you have to play them differently. There is repetition, but not replication. When repetitions become music they are not replications. So what I am saying is that it is complicated in two ways: when you convert a sound into a piece of music, it is never just the sound in itself. But that also means that with this fundamental aspect of drama, music, and narrative, each of the repetitions is constantly a metamorphosis.
You wouldn’t make a piece of glass which was an exact copy of the one you made before. Why would you do that? To make it expressive, there will always be something that transforms itself when you shape the material. Even if it looks very similar, there is something that you do when you repeat it, which gives it a completely different meaning.”
TD: “The mechanical is not something that belongs to our domain, but repetitiveness does, because of that inner transformation,” Sennett later added. The repetitive, he said, is not to be identified with the mechanical.
Now, to address the other defining word in our project: We talked about tacit and implicit knowledge, but another word within our project is “dialogue” – something we immediately associate with the verbal. We asked Sennett to share his thoughts on the relationship between the tacit and the verbal:
RS: “One of the relationships between tacit knowledge and verbal knowledge is that much of what we know in our hands we cannot put into words. Again, I will give you a musical example for this: You will have a disastrous rehearsal if you are a conductor telling people what a passage means verbally rather than finding a way through nonverbal communication. Hand gestures, eyes and eyebrows are very important. All these things that do not name what the meaning is are much more stimulating and much more communicative than trying to put into words what people should be doing. It is representative of a very fundamental problem, which is that not everything we do can be put into words and can be explained linguistically.”
TD: When talking about the knowledge that we have in our hands, not always finding its way into words, we were also keen to take a closer look at the concept of experience. With “Tacit Dialogues,” we try to turn tacit knowledge and the playful dialogue between the material and the craftspeople into a tangible experience. And towards the end of his “Craftsman” book, Richard Sennett talks about what he calls the craft of experience. This is how Sennett explains his concept of the craft of experience:
RS: “There is this kind of false notion, particularly in Anglo-Saxon culture, which is that what we mean by experience is something that comes to us, rather than something that was shaped by material interaction with the world. My notion about it is that people work on their experience the same way they work on playing a piece of music correctly or blowing a piece of glass. They have this kind of dialectic of self awareness, loss of awareness, self criticism and gradually the kinds of expressions people make are things in which they feel more confident. It’s a very simple notion but it goes against a kind of thrill notion of experience.”
Many of Richard Sennett’s thoughts and examples from music inspired us and will be used as we further our research. We felt honored to speak with him and hope you as well found some new and interesting thoughts in this conversation.
Sennett’s book “The Craftsman” was published by Yale University Press in 2009.
In the process of glassmaking, the interaction between artist and material is direct and intimate, forming a sensomotoric interplay that translates movement into embodied knowledge. In a series of experiments, we were interested in the individual movement of the artist in relation to the physical resonance within the glass piece.
We attached a gyroscopic data logger to the glass pipe during the glass manufacturing process. The tracker recorded the rotation, acceleration, and 3D coordinates of the pipe at a rate of 8bit per second. By recording the glassmaking dance, a list of data points is minted. In a second step, this list of values is decoded into acoustic patterns enabling the auditive monitoring of the glass maker’s movement. Thus, the pipe becomes a data capturing device and an instrument at the same time.
The unique recordings of the dance are mapped to its materialized outcome, the glass. A surface speaker is attached to the glass to set the piece into vibration and use the geometry of the glass as a resonance body to transmit sound waves. The glass piece being the physical storage and representation of the performed movement is now actively transmitting sound waves that are based on data recording of its creation. In this sense the glass piece and the sound waves are isochron.
Fluidic Formations by Babette Wiezorek & Verena Bachl
Glassblowing actually means handling a liquid in motion. The fluid glass is applied onto the glassblower’s pipe layer by layer in order to accumulate the desired amount of material. While many perspectives concentrate on the act of blowing glass we are focussing on the fluidity of the material and the layering process in which the object grows over time.
Therefore a technology-aided process resembles the act of layering; by using fluid ceramics and their flow behaviour the conceived setting generates complex artefacts by dripping the liquid matter onto the body. Similar to the formation of fluid glass the ceramic structure grows in layers of material over a certain period of time bearing their own language and morphology.
As WINT Design Lab traced the rotation of the glassblower’s pipe the collected data was used to write these motions into the dripping process and the material. The created objects are a crystallization of the entanglement of material and physical forces, of human and non-human procedures, and they reflect on the common bond of those different actors.
Babette Wiezorek | Additive Addicted
Verena Bachl | Studio Verena Bachl
Implicit Memory Generated Space by Elaine Bonavia
Implicit Memory Generated Space is a digital drawing sequence exploring the concatenations between the virtual, the analog, and the digital. Through a dynamic and virtually accessible simulation, body traces and reflections expressed by glass artist Luke Holden are revitalized. By inscribing these memories in the digital, self-referential transformations are introduced as spatial folds and resonating envelopes disturb a thin envelope of potential space. Virtual space generated from body memory is created. In a playful way, the manifolds and accessibilities of the immaterial surface disturbed by data gathered from the movement are depicted, as the project reveals how closely we are able to draw between the two worlds.
Thus, the artwork presents itself as an access point into the virtual from the pragmatic position of tracking body and pipe motions. In this work, the philosophical text ‘On the Superiority of the Analog’ in Brian Massumi’s Parables of the Virtual is closely reflected upon to challenge the idea of superiority into a case for égalité.
In this ongoing research, the process of blowing glass thus opens up a conversation on the potential and the imminent necessity of qualitative virtual space, its mode of production, and alternative modes of rendering the immaterial, outside the aesthetical confines of NFT-art.
Tacit Dialogues is supported by