About and Schedule

California College of the Arts is pleased to host the Data Clay symposium, a one-day event presented by the Architecture and Fine Arts divisions on Saturday, February 7. The symposium is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth, January 17 through April 19, at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. A special opening reception for the symposium will be held at the museum. 

The event will focus on the use of digital tools and ceramic materials—a hot topic now in architecture, fabrication, digital craft, ceramics, and sustainability circles. Armed with technologies of advanced modeling, 3D printing, and digital machining techniques, today’s designers and artists are able to explore with renewed vigor complex relationships that have always been critical within the ceramic tradition: interiority and exteriority, porosity and containment, surface and figuration, singularity and multiplicity. 

Through this symposium, leading architects, artists, designers, researchers, and critics will seek to define the relationships among the precision of digital technologies, craft sensibilities, and earthen materials.

Symposium funding was generously supported in part by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the CCA Digital Craft Lab. This research was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from The Center of Craft, Creativity & Design, Inc.



Special Opening Reception:
Friday, February 6, 2015
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Museum of Craft and Design

Saturday, February 7, 9:00 am–5:00 pm
8:30am Check In & Coffee

9:00am Welcome, Introduction, & Program Overview

9:30am – Noon Morning Session: What are we making?  

Making and Scaling:  Machines and Models for Machines, Prototypes, Pottery, and Buildings.

Moderated by Del Harrow

Featuring: Jason Kelly Johnson; Ron Rael; Andy Brayman; Jenny Sabin; Laura Devendorf

While digital information can feel infinitely scalable (Moore’s law etc.), ceramic materials and physical machines present very real challenges and limitations in scaling (both in physical size and quantity of production).  Moving from a scale model, or proof of concept to “full scale” – of object, architecture, or production system – involves a fundamental confrontation with the physical properties (scale) of ceramic materials – often at the molecular level.

The long history of introducing automated tools into ceramic production at a variety of scales (studio ceramics, cottage industry, large scale industry) continues to raise both theoretical questions and practical challenges: Is there a balance between automation and skill appropriate to the scale of production?  What are the practical and aesthetic limitations of applying digital tools to clay?

What are the next steps in developing this current proliferation of experimental machines and software, models, and “proof of concept” projects – typically fragile, cobbled together, and dependent for success on inventor/operators with specialized and specific skill sets – into robust and scalable production systems?

Noon – 1:00pm Lunch

1:00pm – 2:00pm Keynote //  Dries Verbruggen

2:00pm – 2:30pm Interlude //  Michael Swaine

2:30pm – 5:00pm

Afternoon Session: Where did we come from and where are we going?

Historical and Critical Perspectives on Digital Fabrication and Ceramics

Moderated by Joshua Stein

Featuring: Bobbye Tigerman; Jenni Sorkin; Dries Verbruggen; Stephanie Syjuco

This session is about zooming out, contextualizing, and re-framing the morning conversation.  How do these contemporary projects fit into a long range historical perspective of humans and clay?  What are some of the critical, and theoretical questions raised within the work?  What are the questions we should be asking?

Contact and Location

Data Clay Symposium
Timken Lecture Hall
California College of the Arts
San Francisco, CA
Opening reception: Friday, February 6, at the Museum of Craft and Design

California College of the Arts


Museum of Craft and Design

More info: Dustin Smith, dnsmith@cca.edu or 510.594.3650