Friday, March 30, 2007

The Fight for Creativity

I'm glad Richard Veryard has picked up on school architecture. I think the interesting issue (for me, anyway ;) is whether this is a dichotomy, a conflict, or whether there is the possibility of some new development, some progressive hybrid that was never quite predictable.

On the one side of the dichotomy, there's Foucault's aspect of architecture as a normalisation environment - a laboratory within which individuals are made into objects and, therefore, subjected to precision control.

The other side is rightly that of flexibility (another term for creativity) - businesses desire it (and hence government desire it) for certain things as flexibility == competitiveness.

But the bounds of that flexibility are set. The conflict is, then, over whether that creativity should extend to merely a product creation (even if a product is more an intangible concept, such as brand power) - what one may call "innovation", perhaps - which involves something consumable being produced, or whether this creativity should become more reflexive - creativity by an individual to assess their own status and position within the system. Any creativity that addresses overarching systems of power is a form of this kind of "flexibility", and could easily be called "innovation" too if the term hadn't already been captured.

In a way, the debate over the architecture of schools will mirror, even symbolise this debate. But the question is this: Are we doomed to one (probably the former, a system of objectification and mass control) "winning out" over the other? If this is the case, then economically, we're a bit shafted as the competitive shadow of "entrepreneurship" and "innovation" will wither and die against more flexible political (not business) systems. Supposedly.

Or can society produce a new alternative - either a finely-poised, yet relatively sustainable trade-off for each individual between productive creativity and reflexive assessment, or some other space in which none of these questions even matter - where creativity is its own end and competitiveness is just something happens?

But now I'm dreaming...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sprogging tiny, immature, baby and warring communities in our midst

William Golding was a prophet, not a commentator. The dark shades of power that underlie all people - mainly men - are reconstructed from scratch, time and time again. Community is seen as the replacement, the saviour of violence. Yet what are "gangs" but small, infant, miniaturised communities? Do we even know what we mean by a "community" these days, or is it just something we read about in fairytales?

Other folk like to form communities and play with power too. Can you think of any?

Are knives more powerful than money? Than words?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

RIP Jean Baudrillard

Baudrillard passes away. He may have been verbose, but his ideas had more gravity than most others in this screwed-up world. See also a short post over at my other blog.

(N.B. for those wanting to follow all my activity at once/stalk me, I should bring attention to the feedshake collection RSS feed.)