In the search of craft, the ideas of practice and principle are the prominent concepts that are at the centre of doing something at the most basic level. Each lend themselves to each other in that principle is developed from practice, and to practice is to dedicate oneself to the principles of the craft. In the search of a craft, our group wanted to examine something that was of personal interest yet something that holds further social and practical value. Looking at mixology / bartending as a starting point, we decided that our weekly ritualistic nature of consuming copious amounts of brightly coloured alcohol could be further utilised as an analysis of a common yet understated craft, in which we can derive both understanding and enjoyment as both practitioners and young adults. We contacted various styles of bars, differing in services, formality, and practice methods, and sought an interview with someone who practiced bartending not only as a job to make ends meet, but also as a skill set that was refined over many years and continued for the enjoyment and pride of the craft.
Prior to conducting the interview, we contracted an outline of how we would select our practitioner, what questions we would ask them to collect the information wanted, and how we assemble all of our footage into the video. We began with collecting B roll footage for aesthetic building and mood board purposes to set the mood and tone of the interview, and began to consider the atmosphere of a bar to be an element in how a drink is enjoyed in addition to the product itself, which prompted us to add the venue to the selection criteria. The most crucial question we had was how our practitioner conducted their craft from the most basic to the most intricate or craft heavy drink and service they provided, and how the idea of an ‘art form’ came into play for each end of the spectrum.
Roles within the service industry consist of independent and innovative thinking and craftsmanship to adapt to and produce a product to the liking of the customer, while keeping the aesthetic goal in mind. “Craft production” by using artisanal techniques and raw materials was the norm for art forms prior to the advent of the digital millennium, when the individual practice of making products was for the purpose of personal consumption and self-expression (Ocejo, 2011, p. 181) While the intent of a cocktail that is exquisitely presented aesthetically before being downed for the alcohol content is to give some grandeur or class to the whole experience of alcoholic enjoyment. Kona, a bartender at The Resistance on Glenferrie Road, subscribed to a philosophy of mixing for personal enjoyment, whether that be the process of experimentation itself or to derive satisfaction from the enjoyment of the customers. The materiality and the precision of the process was a component that [Name] enjoyed and focused his concentration on, with the selection of the ingredients and the manner in which he mixed the drinks determining the outcome of the whole practice. The attention to each individual component and detail was what gave each beverage a cherished quality, for it was Kona’s labour and skill set that gave it value.
Highly time and labour intensive art forms that involves detailed craftsmanship such as tapestry, needlework, or quilting share these traits of the value in the enjoyment of the process, which can ultimately influence the outcome. Something as time consuming as needle or fabric related work can only be enjoyed as a whole if the process is enjoyed, as the end product and the enjoyment of the object itself cannot be instantly produced. Thus, the time put into learning the craft and perfecting it brings value to the object, much like Kona’s training and expertise brings customers seeking his work, in that “craft represents a particular way of knowing and working that can be formalised.”Nimkulrat, Kane, Walton, 2016, p.1) And just like how Kona adapted his drinks to the request (or challenge) of customers, the gradual piecing together of quilted work often challenges craft techniques that have been developed over many years. The authentic nature of hand-sewn quilts is still highly valued for their labour, however something can just as easily be purchased machine or factory sewn. The artisan quality of bartending is not lost to the pre-mixed drinks that are readily available for substantially cheaper prices, however it is the human element – that proves the quality of just about any object or craft to ever exist – that brings enjoyment beyond the lifespan of the craft.
Approaching the interview, if we were to change anything about how were we went about our project – while we are immensely interested in the topic and the outcome we achieved – the issue of organisation and liaising with the practitioner was an aspect that caused time restraints, and with the pressure of time came the problem of the creation of content, as the interview was conducted well after the B roll footage was filmed, and much of our concepts were yet to be confirmed or denied by our practitioner until much later. Securing an interview was quite laborious, as time constraints for both parties was an issue when concerning when, where, and who we were going to talk to was being determined. However, despite the last minute conducting of the interview, the time we gained prior to our video allowed us to use the feedback from our concepts and theory presented in class to be used to polish our ideas and the questions we were going to ask our practitioner.
For my final project, I would like to move away from new media forms and look to traditional methods of craft, in which I believe I will be able to extend my research deeper into not only the craft itself but into the foundations of many others. I feel as though my learning has deviated more toward new media forms and technologies, and so I would like to step it back and focalise old media forms and processes and the way in which it engages in popular culture and contemporary mediums and contexts., perhaps looking at illumination of hand-crafted embroidery to look to the roots of something truly ‘handmade.’
Ocejo, R, 2011, What’ll it be? Cocktail Bartenders and the Redefinition of Service in the Creative Economy, Published in “City, Culture and Society”, John Jay College of Criminal Justice,CUNY, Department of Sociology, New York, USA
Nimkulrat, N., Kane, F., Walton, K., 2016, Crafting Textiles in the Digital Age, Bloomsbury Academic Publishing