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...

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