This project aims to present a speculative identity of a traditional Indian craftsman in the context of industry 4.0. The project ventures into domains of cyber-physical systems, machine learning, digital fabrication and remote prototyping to speculate upon a future where the maker space is augmented with intelligent systems that learn and robotic systems that build. This new identity of the maker enables a revolution in the way we think about crafts and craftspersons and triggers inquiry and contemplation on future interactions, fabrication systems, skill-sharing and revenue models around the modern “maker”.
The term “Apprentice 4.0” refers to these augmentations that redefine the culture of the craft apprenticeship through analysis of the “master” craftsman’s skill and its tangible/material interpretation through connected prototyping systems and skill abstraction into cyberspace.
The project is essentially a critically thought bridge between the Indian “hand” crafted scenario and the characteristics of the industry 4.0 vis a vis smart manufacturing, connected systems, and internet of things, etc.
The present ecosystem of a generic Indian craftsman is a part of the unorganized sector of the economy and thus data garnered from a typical Indian artisan is either exclusively visual or purely market-driven, in its intent. A generic artisanal workshop is archaic in its tools and machinery and the artisan himself is connected in a very limited manner with rare uses of the internet and associated services for a professional utility.
Although technology has been implemented in the sector but has either resulted in replacing the handmade completely or is limited to passive electronic tools such as drills and lathes
The place of an apprentice in the Indian craft ecosystem still exists in its conventional archetype of a master-disciple learning system.
Since the project is an exploratory work about the identity of an artisan in the context of industry 4.0, our approach to the topic is based on speculative & critical design practices with an emphasis on the technological trends, socio-economic structure & design fictions triggered by this new proposed identity.
The project utilizes handcrafting techniques existing in various traditional crafts. To further define the scope of our project, the following criteria will act as guiding principles –
Apprentice 4.0 is envisioned as an extension to the craftsman and the flow of value in this maker centric system is as follows –
Possible futures in the proposed paradigm
With this abstracted “individual” skill/technique profile, an array of possibilities becomes open for speculation. The primary trigger for us was the possibility of remote robotic fabrication in the style of the maker through a digital technique profile. This becomes a divergent node in our speculation in the sense that it offers a possibility of varied value models. There can be multiple ways of utilizing the technique profile abstracted from the individual craftsperson. All the possible futures, however, should be an extension and enhancement of the identity of the “master” maker.
Within the above-mentioned scenario and its constraints, we imagined in detail, the following futures. The ideas presented below are rooted in the current scenario and evolve in their narrative to project tempered imaginations of what the augmentation of a craftsperson would lead to.
Conclusions and further inquiry
In its entirety, this project is a methodical and detailed inquiry into the possible future identities of an artisan. The present scenario exhibits a singular, static, and an archaic value to the traditional maker. The value chains and the market avenues to the maker are limited. Products and services, around the current persona of an artisan, are passive and archaic and have propagated a constrained identity associated with craftsmen. The proposed “enabling” of a traditional maker sparks our interest and we invite further collaborative speculation from the community.
Some triggers for further inquiry can be –
Dhruv Saxena, Institute of Design, JK Lakshmipat University