Note: This post first featured on “The Art of…” blog, under my name: David Atkinson http://davidsartof.blogspot.com/
Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi has written on his involvement with a new project: Imagination@Lancaster. I have commented that this is a worthwhile and potentially exciting project and one that I look forward to seeing its products and progress with some eager anticipation. However, call me skeptical if you like, but do I detect something of a recent drift in emphasis? Certainly, I do if I read Kevin’s recent post literally.
Initially we were treated Friday, June 22, 2007 to the possibility that Imagination@Lancaster would provide a forum for the reimagination of ‘…the way universities interact with industry and government, and the impact we could all have by pooling resources in one university’. This is, from my own point of view, a noble and worthwhile aim that seeks to adress a specific area of social reality – the boundary between diverse yet socially critical realities. It is an aim with at least a focus.
We are now (Tuesday, July 17, 2007) treated to a process of translation and diffusion – where the dream for Imagination@Lancaster is apparently now ‘…to be a global leader in imagining new concepts and new collaborations for the common good’. Are we missing something in translation? I fear we have at least (from my own point of view admittedly) lost the noble focus of our noble cause.
The world (we might assume from Kevin) is clearly bereft of creative ideas and our potential saviours are – we are encouraged to read – a ‘…bunch of collaborators with a total commitment to sustainability’. A noble cause, yes! But the mere possession of a strong will to act as passionate catalysts to bring the future into the present simply introduces a design for some new grand narrative. Is the pooling of this ‘…intellectual, passionate capability…’ a rejection of the “potential of all” to contribute to ‘…the brining of the future into the present’? This might unfortunately be read as a rejection of social potential of “Stalinist” proportions.
Kevin Roberts writes that core to the Imagination@Lancaster team is the belief that ‘…creativity happens at the boundaries, the exceptional is in the everyday, and that uncertain ground is the place to be if you revel in a challenge.’ We do not want, may I suggest, that the Imagination@Lancaster team become ‘…a global leader in imagining new concepts and new collaborations for the common good’. Neither do we need the application of their power, and their clear potential, to show how others can begin to imagine new concepts and new collaborations for the common good – we are all capable of creativity and using our imagination.
What is really required is a focus for the facilitation of collaborative government/industry/academic strategies, policies and action for the creation of new spaces for play; space within which all of society can participate (voluntarily) if they so wish, rather than the apparent suggestion that our future is to be created by only a select few!
Actually, I have a strong belief that Kevin’s intention was not to suggest that the Imagination@Lancaster team was, in some way, a reified collection of individuals with some grand design on the world. I still await more on this potentially groundbreaking idea! The question for me remains the retention of an appropriate focus.