Have you ever thought of technology as a disruptive tool within a culture or society? I for one was born amongst a generation where technology is quite dominant as a tool for communication and learning. Therefore, I was never the type to question its existence or even how it is being used and manipulated.
Being immersed in the world of textiles for four years, my passion towards hand crafted products and the history they carry slightly shifted my ideologies regarding this subject. The moment of epiphany that hit me regarding the possible damaging characteristics of technology started out with this story.
I was walking through one of Rome’s beautiful streets in the summer of 2019 so eager to learn about their culture (since I read so much about its craft during my time at university). I slowly started to realise the amount of stores that have shut down in the street I was walking in, except for one. That single store was glowing with the most intricate wood, stone and marble carving. Whether expressing the life of royals or the religious depiction of heaven and hell, each sculpture had a story. I had to know more about the person behind the sculptures. A few seconds later, a woman comes out of the studio to greet my friend and I. She had this huge smile on her face, as if seeing a possible customer for the first time in a very long time. She asked if we needed any assistance as I pleaded for more information behind the culture of this craft. She explained that her father does not speak English, but he is the master of the art I was witnessing. As we sat down listening to this man speak in Italian while his daughter attempted to translate - I felt the pain hearing his story.
We were told that all the other businesses of similar nature on the same street have shut down because people do not have the patience to wait for their products. They would rather buy a cheap mass produced duplicate of a similar looking art piece than experience the craft first hand. He was almost in tears. From that moment, my eyes opened to a whole new world of history. I started spending more time with my grandparents, merely listening to their stories and understanding the history of products used during their childhood. From a hand written letter with a hint of a loved ones perfume that arrives once every month, to the beauty of a rustic record player, every object and gesture had meaning. With technology, everything can be done with a click of a button. That is much easier, yes! But, we are losing so much in the process; the human touch, the history and culture behind a piece, and most importantly ones connection to his/her own culture as we steer towards what technology wants us to adapt to.
Without these hand crafted antiquities and products, history will no longer continue to tell its story. Since each authentic masterpiece is made during a specific era by a specific person, we can unlock the history of so many countries and people. With extreme technological advancements, we are steered to adapt to a world that is robotic, a world that is automated and somewhat universally uniformed. This doctrine will drive us away from history, from art and culture. Once something becomes digital it loses the romanticism of the hand; the touch.
The moral of the story is as follows; keep history alive by preserving the art and culture that was created to understand it. It is the history of humanity - the history of us beings. Appreciate what humanity has created and try to create what maintains and develops it, not what completely eliminates its existence.
Written by: Nujoud Oweis
Nujoud is an aspiring accessories designer who graduated with a BA in textile design from Central Saint Martins. Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, her muse is her grandmother who taught her how to appreciate the detail and craft in antiques and art. She is an advocate for sustainability and loves incorporating sea found objects as a way to connect to her childhood by the sea in Aqaba. She resides between London and Amman and is planning to continue her education in luxury accessory design and management, where she hopes to incorporate different aspects of her heritage, culture and love for the sea into her work in a bid to keep the beauty of Jordan alive.