Last month I published “Death To Big Dumb Boxes” where I used common modern Architecture to illustrate conformity to rules and expectations, the lack of creativity and boldness in our culture and related it back to the general lack of creativity and boldness in other areas – specifically modern U.S. Radio.
I also used the article to shine a light on one brilliant exception in architecture: Frank Gehry. Please give it a read if you haven’t already.
As the Guardian and New Yorker reported just a few days ago, Frank was recently confronted by a journalist who asked him to comment on the view that his designs were mere “spectacle”. Frank’s response was as genius as his creations:
“Let me tell you one thing,” Gehry said, “In this world we are living in, ninety-eight per cent of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit. There’s no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else.”
He added, pleading, “Once in a while, however, a group of people do something special. Very few, but God, leave us alone. We are dedicated to our work. I don’t ask for work … I work with clients who respect the art of architecture. Therefore, please don’t ask questions as stupid as that one.”
Frank ended his comment by flipping the journalist off. Which the New Yorkers brilliantly observed:
I’d like to think that Gehry’s vertical digit consciously mimed the shape of today’s predominant urban architectural style, if “style” even applies to, say, the insolent ninety-six-story shaft of 432 Park Avenue or, for that matter, the botched opportunity of the Freedom Tower, which makes the lost, banal Twin Towers seem a very Parthenon in retrospect.
Or what I like to call – Big, Dumb Boxes.
Death to Big, Dumb Boxes was about shining a light on conformity and meeting expectations. Also, showing an example of someone who escapes it in an attempt to inspire others, and even myself to up our artistic game. This piece takes that to another level, altogether.
Calling shit, Shit.
We all have to be able to do that. It’s far too easy to point at someone else’s work and call it shit. So let’s keep it focused on our own work.
Our Radio Station.
Our Video Game.
Our Show – Our Art, Business, Work etc…
Too many of us are afraid of calling our own shit, Shit. Too many of us keep building Big, Dumb Boxes. To many of us settle for “good enough” because that’s what everyone else is building.
It might be because we haven’t developed the requisite level of taste to actually know if something we made is shit or not. That can be excused.
But there’s more corrosive and subtle reasons I’ve experienced first hand.
We look around and see what everyone else is doing and merely copy that. Especially if it has been deemed a “success”. That’s how we end up with urban canyons of Big Dumb Boxes – hundreds of Radio Stations playing Commercial Free Sweeps of the same 500 songs – and yet ANOTHER First Person Shooter Game etc . . .
And then there’s laziness. If we call our thing Shit – that means we have to start over. It means we have to raise our game. That’s a lot of work.
We have to reach higher, think more deeply, think more freely, try more new, scary things. Things that might not work – and probably WON’T work! That means we have to fail. And fail. And fail some more before we might discover the next level. But failing sucks. And getting past that is really hard and scary and takes too much time – and we don’t have the time! And besides, this thing we just made – it’s good enough, isn’t it?
To which I proudly and loudly encourage you to join me in raising our middle fingers – Gehry style and say – “Please don’t ask questions as stupid as that one”.
Now, go make something epic that people will actually talk about.