The house is the ultimate item of modern super-consumption, particularly here in Australia. With its market value and consumer desire both at stratospheric levels, houses have rapidly become the objects that perhaps best speak of status, inequality and the ravenous consumption of our environment. In 'The Handmade House' we seek to highlight attitudes in the housing market that extend mass consumption practices of the 20th century – of rapid urban sprawl and quick construction, but also of feverish consumption and the creation of enormous disparities in wealth. We juxtapose this with new aspirations that have been placed on Maker and craft culture, with revived hope in alternatives to mass consumption and its social and environmental toll. With it we see the renewed value of laborious, often hand-made craft practices, but we also see new forms of making emerging, with new tools and capacities for distributed collaboration. Both of these rely on vibrant communities of innovation, exchange and co-operation, particularly facilitated by the internet. For The Handmade Home to work, we would need fast interchange of information from Melbourne CBD (of the laborious, traditional methods of manual timber construction) to our artists in regional Victoria, who would digitally model and reproduce this structure at their remote location, using the homemade 3D printer. Thus we also explore the contemporary relevance of an ‘art centre’ like the Melbourne metropolis, and how regional areas are increasingly sites of innovation and vibrant making, involving both local and distributed communities, in distinctively new ways. 'The Handmade House' will take place simultaneously in two locations: at Wide Open Road Art in Castlemaine in regional Victoria, and throughout the Melbourne CBD.
Melbourne CBD: On 11, 12 and 13 August from 12-2 pm four artists affiliated with Wide Open Road Art will craft a scale version of a house at different locations within central Melbourne. Next to the house construction we will have a simulcast of the work taking place in Castlemaine. Castlemaine (Wide Open Road Art): Occurring simultaneously with the Melbourne event there will be another house project at Wide Open Road Art. In front of our cabinets that are permanently located on the side of a building in central Castlemaine we will install a desk. On the desk a 3D printer, hand-made by team member Mark Richardson, will be producing numerous PLA (cornstarch) plastic models via rapid prototyping manufacturing. The printer will create a series of small houses at the regional location in lockstep with the manual house construction in the city. The plastic houses produced will be continuously added to Wide Open Road cabinets, creating a growing installation as time passes over the three days. The Wide Open Road Art desk will be manned for the same period of time that the Melbourne artists are working. The Wide Open Road Art event will also have a screen in one of the cabinets revealing live footage of the work unfolding simultaneously in Melbourne. At the end of the three days Wide Open Road Art will exhibit the houses printed locally and images from the Melbourne event.