Glenn said he saw that
>> some practitioners -
>> have started using virtual 'making' tools
Well, I see as many if not more artists 'making' virtual tools. Such 'tools' may be designed to be used by other artists, or for interactivity with an audience (who then become involved in the 'making' of the work). In other words, traditional making has indeed shrunk in significance in Art & Design, but has also expanded into the digital realm.
I support this move into the virtual/digital, but I think the value of physical making should not be underestimated:
For a while now, I have been using mathematical tools called cellular automata (CA) to make patterns. CA are usually run on computers, but they are simple enough to calculate by hand. One of the most famous CA - 'Life' - was created by John Horton Conway using saucers laid out on a tiled floor. With my own artwork, I decided not to use the computer - instead I calculated CAs with pen and paper and made the patterns by hand (variously in tapestry, oil paint, mosaic tiles, and Lego bricks). In doing so, I managed to find an efficient shortcut to the calculations which would certainly have remained undiscovered had I stuck with the computer. And the handmade objects were definitely more pleasing than anything on a computer monitor.
The idea of abandoning making whilst retaining authorship rippled through the art world following Marcel Duchamp's exhibition of 'readymades'...
A friend of mine recently described a lot of artwork today as 'already-made'!
He was referring to making without thinking - the opposite end of the problem of 'practice as research'.
But Eduardo pointed to the origins of this division between makers and artists in the Renaissance: This is when Fine Art began, and split from the Crafts. Artsists 'authored' paintings that were completed by a workshop of assistant makers. Craft is 'hands-on'; Fine Art is 'hands off!'
And yes, later, Ruskin, Morris & Co. tried to re-unite the two.
Perhaps Morris 'Major' would have approved of the Morris Minor:
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful".
I think the Morris Minor fits both criteria, especially the 'Traveller' model - one of the last British vehicles to incorporate wood into its construction, and regarded as a 'DIY classic' for its mechanical simplicity and ease of repair. Wouldn't W. Morris be happy to see us with spanners and hammers in hand - making?