London, ON, May 2009
Buildings built for public service, like this school here, aren't known for being architectural wonders. For the most part, they're built-to-a-price boxes that serve the purpose for which they were designed. They're virtually all alike, and in their relentless sameness, they lack the ability to inspire.
That's the conventional view, anyway. And it's that conventional view that results in no one ever giving these buildings a second glance. It's a perspective that conditions us to simply accept that we'll never find anything worth remembering here. So we don't take the time.
That, my friends, would be a mistake. Because the whole idea of living - at least as I understand it - involves a little envelope-pushing. Why would I join the herds standing around the latest Frank Gehry creation, for example, gawking in amazement at what he can do to a three dimensionally-curved surface?
Disclosure: I've stood gawking in front of a Gehry creation before - see here for an up close and personal view of The Experience Music Project in Seattle. The experience (ha!) was sublime, and I'll remember it always. But that doesn't mean life stops there. End tangent.So by avoiding the non-Gehry, non-tourist-trappy, non-spectacular things, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to tease something from nothing, to squeeze creative blood from stones that, at least initially, show no desire to give anything up.
Anyone can shoot spectacular. But can we make the mundane just as worthy of the attention of others? I'd like to think we can.
Your turn: Why do we avoid plain? Why shouldn't we?
Oh, and while you're at it: Please check into this week's Thematic. I could make some joke about being in a parallel universe, but that would be corny.