I’d like to make a case for ignorance. I say this in the light that right now most things claiming creativity appears to point in one direction and one direction only: the past. The extent and depth of our knowledge of what has happened makes a prison for what is happening and, therefore, wipes out anything that might happen. This is not a mistake. It’s a decision taken eyes wide open. We watch ourselves watching the world. Everything references everything else.
Adam Curtis’s idea of static culture is good on this. He argues that pop culture today is more a discipline of archaeology than it is invention. I remember a Joe Muggs piece on Art Desk suggesting that now that eighties revivalism has lasted longer than the eighties itself, it needs re-categorising. Sounding — looking, feeling, acting — more like the past than the past itself is now a recognised art form. See Hauntology, Board of Canada, Ariel Pink, Ghost Box etc.
The present’s self-conscious obsession with all that has gone makes for turgid going. I blame the internet — despite loving it. The ease and speed and freedom with which we access the past substitute’s actual experience for the virtual. We mistake browsing the recorded for experiencing the now.
The impact this has on identity is not for me to say. All I know is that as a young designer my main actual design references were limited to a small section in my book collection. Otherwise, like everyone, I designed in a vacuum mitigated by my own real life — buying records, going to art galleries, clubbing, living in what was then a slightly seedy seaside town.
I also blame the future which is unfolding before us. Why would we not want to hide from the grim new realities we are facing—it’s is a frightening place.
I’m not having a go. It’s not the end of time. We are only on Pause. Something else is in the offing. We will create the future again. Plus, let’s not forget. It’s a general observation. There are individuals, groups, doing genuinely original things. I’m not worried. I’m interested. It’s a hurricane in the making.
So, to end at the beginning: a case for ignorance. Not the sort that makes for unhappy relationships — individual, group or cultural; but rather that which allows for genuine freedom of expression. I’m calling myself out. I want to stop being self-conscious. Stop knowing. Or rather, know it; then let it go. Be free. Point forward. Create.