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Matt Ratto

It is as though in our cultural iconography we are given the muscled arm, sleeve rolled tight against biceps, but no thought bright behind the eye, no image that links hand and brain. (Rose, The Mind at Work)

In this talk I hope to convince you of something you already know – namely the role of brains as well as hands in the practices of craft work. More importantly, I hope to give you – as crafters, as craft enthusiasts, as craft educators -  the resources you need to better explain to others how craft work connects up with ways of thinking and being in the world that are increasingly important for modern society. To better detail these ideas I will use examples from a craft practice in which I have been involved for the last two years, namely the production of custom prosthetics.




Matt Ratto is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto and directs the Semaphore Research cluster on Inclusive Design, Mobile and Pervasive Computing and, as part of Semaphore, the Critical Making lab. His work explores the intersections between digital technologies and the human life world, with a particular focus on new developments that trouble the divide between online and offline modes of production. He coined the term ‘critical making” in 2007 to describe modes that combine humanities insights and engineering practices, and has published extensively on this concept. A current project involves the development of a cost-effective software and hardware toolchain for the scanning, design, and 3D printing of lower-limb prostheses for use in the developing world. This work is being carried out in partnership with non-profit CBM Canada, CoRSU hospital in Uganda, Autodesk inc., and Toronto prosthetics and orthodics experts. Recent publications include DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, MIT Press, 2014 (co-editor with Megan Boler), “Design-to-Fabricate: Maker Hardware Requires Maker Software.” IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Nov., 2013 (with Ryan Schmidt), and “Critical Making and Institutional Learning: Making as a Bridge between Art, Science, Engineering, and Social Intervention,” forthcoming Leonardo Electronic Almanac (with Garnet Hertz.)  








Who We Are

Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.