DIY culture: Wikis

  
  
  

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DIY culture (abbreviation of Do It Yourself) is a broad term that refers to a wide range of elements in non-mainstream society, such as grassroots political and social activism, independent music, art, and film.

Contents

History of DIY culture in UK

Having originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the form of the free festival movement, mutating through protest camps (thus incorporating elements of earlier radical tendencies such as the beat and peace movements) and into punk through bands such as Crass, DIY culture became something of a recognised movement in the 1990s in the UK, where the protest (the direct action) and party (the festival) converged. This development constituted a significant cross-pollination of pleasure and politics resembling the anti-disciplinary politics of the 1960s. During the 1990s, demonstrating the desire for an economy of mutual aid and co-operation, the commitment to the non-commodification of art, the appropriation of digital and communication technologies for free community purposes, and the commitment to alternative technologies such as biodiesel. From 1991–1997 the Conservative government cracked down on squatting, animal rights activists, greens, travellers, as well as the culture of raves, parties and dance culture.

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

In 1994, the United Kingdom passed the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which contained several sections designed to curtail the growing free party and anti-road protest movements (sometimes embodied by ravers and travellers). It empowered police to arrest citizens who appeared to be preparing to hold a rave, waiting for a rave to start, or attending a rave.

DIY Culture in the US

DIY culture in the United States can be linked to many of the same philosophies of the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900's, which sought to reconnect people with hands-on activities and the aesthetics associated with them - in direct opposition to the prevailing industrialization and modernization which was moving many aspects of the culture's aesthetics away from the hand-made artisan-created styles of the past and toward a mass-produced sleek modern vision of the future. DIY culture in the US arguably evolved from a simple cost-saving activity of the 1940's and 1950's to an increasingly radical political activity which stood against the increasingly visible trends of mass-production, conspicuous consumerism, waste, and the industrial corporate philosophy of planned obsolescence. DIY culture in the US is a current and evolving loose coalition of various individuals. There are many members of DIY culture with distinct and activist philosophies and goals, such as Betsy Greer who coined the term Craftivism in 2003. There are also many people with a staunch neutrality of political and social issues adopted by other members of the DIY movement. The largest group fall into a area somewhere between these two opposites, as varied in the spectrum of political and social philosophy as members of any large and thriving subculture.

In John Isaacson's book Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting, published by Microcosm Publishing, who gained fame by publishing and distributing a wide variety of zines, Jason Munn is quoted in a "screenprinter profile" as relating to the medium as follows:

I loved the idea of designing or illustrating something and doing the printing myself. Most of my time is spent in front of the computer so the printing is a great way to get my hands dirty again, so to speak.[1]

The need to connect with the physical world without interacting with computers or other modern technology , which in modern industrialized societies can go unfulfilled for days at a time, becomes a significant motivating force in leading people to embrace DIY culture.

Carla Sinclair, Editor in Chief of Craft attempts to describe the DIY community: "This DIY renaissance embraces crafts while pushing them beyond traditional boundaries, either through technology, irony, irreverence, and creative recycling, or by using innovating materials and processes...the new craft movement encourages people to make things themselves rather than buy what thousands of others already own. It provides new venues for crafters to show and sell their wares, and it offers original, unusual, alternative, and better-made goods to consumers who choose not to fall in step with mainstream commerce."[2] Ellen Lupton embellishes these thoughts in her book D.I.Y. Design It Yourself: "Around the world, people are making things themselves in order to save money, to customize goods to suit their exact needs and interests, and to feel less dependent on the corporations that manufacture and distribute most of the products and media we consume. On top of these practical and political motivations is the pleasure that comes from developing an idea, making it physically real, and sharing it with other people."[3] The articulation of both Isaacson and Lupton is that DIY activities and culture not only are unique in a modern world of consumerism, they give pleasure to its members simply due to the lack of corporate control or thoughts of profit and marketability which are often assigned to the act of creation outside the world of fine art.

These views are not universal or without variation, however. In Tsia Carson's introduction to her book 'Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle,' she muses that "the kind of agency one gains over their life by making their things is certainly powerful, heady stuff. But I can't honestly say that is why I make things. Do I make things for spiritual reasons? I wonder if I'm ready to speak of crafting as a form of meditation when I compare the crochet hats I make for my daughter's stuffed monkey to venerable practices like making Tibetan sand mandalas. We make things for two reaons: pleasure and because we can."[4] While some ascribe political or social context to their DIY activities, others ascribe personal or spiritual dimensions.

Matt Maranian, author of 'Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living,' a guide to making your own home decor specifically intended not to look like it was purchased in any store, illustrates another aspect of DIY culture: "Pad is not a book for the helpless, the aimless, or the clueless, Pad is a book for the empowered, the inspired, and the creative. It's a book for people who forge their own trail, and who know how to make the very most of what they have at hand - or can find cheaply. Pad is the guerrilla approach to home decorating."[5] Matt articulates the sense of community and subculture present in DIY culture, perhaps even hinting at a kind of intellectual succession from a society deemed "helpless...aimless...clueless."

The first lines of Amy Spencer's 'DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture' sum up the juxtaposition of DIY culture's aspects by pointing out "the DIY movement is about using anything you can get your hands on to shape your own cultural entity: your own version of whatever you think is missing in mainstream culture. You can produce your own zine, record an album, publish your own book - the enduring appeal of this movement is that anyone can be an artist or creator. The point is to get involved."[6]

See also

  • DIY ethic
  • D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist

References

  1. ^ Isaacson, John: Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting Microcosm Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9770557-4-6 Page 173.
  2. ^ Various: Craft Magazine, Vol.1, Issue 1. O'Reilly Media, 2006. ISBN 0-596-52728-4 Page 7.
  3. ^ Lupton, Ellen: D.I.Y. Design It Yourself Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. ISBN 1-56898-552-5 Page 18.
  4. ^ Carson, Tsia: Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-0-06-084130-0 Page 11.
  5. ^ Maranian, Matt Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living Chronicle Books, 2000. ISBN 0-8118-2653-8 Page 7.
  6. ^ Spencer, Amy DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture Marion Boyars Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7145-3161-8 Page 11.

Further reading

  • Brass, Elaine and Sophie Poklewski Koziell with Denise Searle (editor), 1997. Gathering Force: DIY culture - radical action for those tired of waiting, London: Big Issue. ISBN 1-899419-01-2.
  • McKay, George. Senseless acts of beauty: cultures of resistance since the Sixties, London: Verso, 1996. ISBN 1-85984-028-0.
  • _____, editor. DiY culture: party & protest in Nineties Britain, London; New York: Verso, 1998. ISBN 1-85984-260-7.
  • St John, Graham, editor. FreeNRG: Notes From the Edge of the Dancefloor, Altona: Commonground. ISBN 1-86335-084-5.
  • Wall, Derek Earth First and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical Environmentalism and Comparative Social Movements, London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-19064-9







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