I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex for the "John Lennon: the New York City Years" exhibition last week. A quote on the wall caught my eyes:
"Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me."
- John Lennon
Clearly, music is an outlet for John Lennon - a vehicle to express himself. Society, politics, humanity... But for us architects, is architecture an outlet? At a discussion organized by Storefront for Art and Architecture, Micheal Webb asked, "everybody was making a city in the 60s, but why is nobody doing that right now?" Oh yeah, we are busy building stuff. Who cares about visions? The construction boom in the last decade made design merely a commission-based business operation... Building without substance. What about now? When there's not much work, architects just all go to the beach? We should take our social responsibilities a little more seriously. The starchitects should probably use their influence in a more active way than just trying to get the weirdest thing in the world built.
Having substance requires observation and insight. You need to absorb, process, dream, take a stance and have it voiced. I dug a little further into Lennon's quote and found that he actually went on and explained how it happens: "It's always in the middle of the night, or you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is. Every time you try to put your finger on it, it slips away. You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them..." I guess letting go doesn't contradict the necessity of critical observation - you have to make sure there ARE cockroaches before trying to grasp them.