Creation and destruction are drawn from the same breath.
We instinctively yet irrationally see creation (and for that, read creativity) in a positive, beneficial glow and destruction in a negative gloom, until we consider purpose, function and form – and thereafter may take a different view. Many of our creations – the subject of dreams and euphoria for the innovators, motivated by reasons at which most would shudder – bring misery and despair. Creativity per se is not a good thing. Destruction per se is not a bad thing. They must both be held to practical and moral judgement.
Human beings invariably suffer space.
They do so within a natural gap between the point at which space ceases to become useful or beneficial to us, and the moment at which we become conscious of it. The breakdown in purpose is difficult to define, understand or measure, hence the time it takes for consciousness to dawn. With a nod to Durkheim, we might call this the anomic void. It becomes counter-productive, corrosive. It contributes to a deterioration in mental and physical health, and tears at our relations.
Space must therefore evolve, change, grow (and perhaps shrink) with us. We must cease to see space as a product, but consider it a journey. There may be rest, but there is no end.
How should we think about this, and what should we do?
I have previously considered viridian design and natural evanescence, the inbuilt obsolescence to ideas. This encapsulates the notion that at the point of origination we also consider demise. I’ve also mused on my own personal experience of creation and destruction.
Nietzsche held that “all great things destroy themselves from an act of self-cancellation” (Zarathustra). Why not space?
We remain obsessed with creativity, yet afraid of destruction. We need to return to the original breath, and hold them as equally important, indistinguishable. Imagine the suffocating claustrophobia of infinite creation. This thought was ignited by the exhibition of the auto-destructive art of Gustav Metzger in the Tate Britain.
Metzger was the founder of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), the gathering of a diverse group of international artists, poets, and scientists in London in 1966 on the theme of destruction in art. Now, that was a gig to have been at.
Metzger also produced several versions of a short manifesto describing the nature and purpose of the movement. He held that ADA “demonstrates man’s power to accelerate disintegrative processes of nature and to order them” [and] “…contains within itself an agent which automatically leads to its destruction within a period of time not to exceed twenty years.”
Yet in relating this to the space we create, the idea of the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely’s 1960 installation fascinates – a self-destructive machine sculpture, Homage à New York, which battered itself to pieces in the Sculpture Garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I couldn’t help but muse on the idea of a workplace that dismantled itself when it no longer usefully served the purpose for which it was created.
We need to be sufficiently aware of our relationship with the space around us that we are readily able to identify the anomic void, and on our journey to be prepared to smash it up and start again. Our present day obsession with creation and creativity is masking how much we have yet to learn about the beneficial contribution of destruction.
And how to do it in style.
What? You expected the Damned? How predictable would that have been….?