Video Makerspaces

Tuesday 9th November, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*In this intriguing and thoughtful video, Laura Kampf utterly reforms her workshop/video studio by using leftover equipment cases that she bought on eBay — cases which are probably from the old West German espionage apparatus.

*I quite admire the achievement of Ms Kampf here — she’s a Maker Faire Rome veteran who justly commands the respect of her YouTube Maker peers, such as Adam Savage in the video here.

*But, I wonder how her grand studio plan will work out in the long run. Is it too neat? How can Laura Kampf, a Cologne junk artist with a taste for punk-style jugaad and found materials, ever maintain this impressive level of organizational command?

*Because a junkyard is the polar opposite of a meticulous studio toolbox. It’s like recording punk music by using an encyclopedia.

*Also, although Laura Kampf has nicely categorized, assorted and labelled almost all of her many studio tools, we, the YouTube viewers, can’t see all the tools in this system. They’re in handsome metal boxes, but they’re not in Adam Savage “first order of retrievability.” They’re in a second or even third order, when she has to remember how she categorized them, and then look for the labels, and then open the cases.

*Adam Savage also states that, “If you can’t see a tool, you don’t have it.” This may be an extreme idea, but also, if you’re not producing video of the tool use, then you’re not entertaining with it. So, logically, it seems like a properly organized Makertainment space should combine worker accessibility with viewer transparency.

*Somehow, the Maker herself should see everything and be able to handle materials efficiently, while also we, her viewers, should be treated to the whole educational-video panoply of tracking, close-ups, scanning, slo-mo and so on.

*I’m not sure that this design feat is even possible. Every effective video shoot I’ve ever seen is a complete mass of tangled debris outside the strict parameters of the camera field. Video shoots bring raw technical chaos, outside the limited order of the staging area. That entropy’s just got to go somewhere, no matter how German and well-organized you are.

*One possible exception was the long series of videos Savage recently did in his impressively cluttered “Cave” studio, when he was in pandemic lockdown and doing all the video work by himself. Alone, he used a mobile — handheld, and in clamps — and the results were a bit Robinson Crusoe, but also very convincing as cinema verite. It was as intimate as being locked in the atelier with him; you could hear the poor guy breathing, grumbling and loudly dropping small objects.

*Laura Kampf has designed a video workshop table for herself. It’s made from repurposed junk, but it’s accomplishing some of her YouTube aims.

*I’m wondering if along with aprons, tool bags, toolboxes, worktables and studios, video tools should also be redesigned for Makers — that the Maker needs specialized video gadgets, ruggedized workshop-style film gear which can clamp on, detach, resist sawdust, dirt, oil and vibration. So that the the special FX set finally and thoroughly hybridizes with the cinema set: in a cinema of material production, or, to rephrase that, a mechanic’s workshop for popular video clips.

*In her very latest video, the tireless Laura Kampf is struggling to redesign wall display spaces for her vast collection of outsized clamps. You may notice how much that tool-shelf, moved by pulleys, resembles a conventional theatrical stage curtain.

*Even her failures are interesting and encouraging, and her Koln-style chillout techno tracks are certainly the best soundtracks that any Maker has ever had.