Adobe’s Online Museum Debuts John Maeda Exhibition: ‘Atoms + Bits = the neue Craft (ABC)’

In the blink of a disembodied Tony Oursler eyeball, the Adobe Museum of Digital Media has mounted its second exhibition. Through the end of the year, visitors to the sleek site can watch John Maeda, embattled president of the Rhode Island School of Design, deliver an illustrated lecture on his version of the ABCs: atoms, bits, and craft—specifically the physical-meets-virtual mashup that he calls “neue craft.” Maeda begins his discussion of the potential for art and design to catch up with technology by tracing his own path from creating early computer graphics and discovering MacPaint. “That began this era where the computer began to feel more like our world, more like the physical world,” says Maeda, conscious that a sizable chunk of his audience may own an iPad 2 but never heard of an Apple II. “The virtual world, at the time, was very clunky.” Highlighting the technological jumps enabled by Adobe PostScript (cue the Bézier splines!) and Photoshop, the ubiquity of Flash, and the growing awareness of art and design, he asks viewers to consider the origins of innovation before tackling the intersection of craft and computers. At RISD, of course, craft has always been king. “Our students are so steeped in the art of making, bending, gnawing, sawing, changing, forming,” says Maeda. “Today, because of digital tools, we’ve lost that sense of reality. However, craft is alive in the space I live in today.”