Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Creative Content

I have been thinking about some questions on the quest to become a 'Global Arts City'

1) Can a people brought up on a pragmatic and functional world-view develop an aesthetic sense, or enough of an aesthetic for them to be creative? Can an aesthetic sense be turned on and off like a switch, or it deeply ingrained and inseparable from one's being? Is there a time beyond which it becomes too late for an individual to develop such as aesthetic sense. When is that time? Can you have an aesthetic sense without an unified aesthetic outlook?

2) If you wish to be creative, what is the creative thing you want to make? And must it be unique?

a. Relatedly, Singapore has thought of itself as not just a multicultural, but cross-cultural place. Indeed, it sees itself as in the middle of two other continuums, namely, between the modern and traditional, and between West and East. Yet what content has it produced that evidences its hybrid culture in a deep rather than pastische way, much less showcases it.
i. Hence where are the plays, novels, designs, buildings etc, which is produce of out cultural positioning?

ii. In what way is the arts and cultural policy helpful to the making of these cultural products.

b. Is there, in other words, a Singapore cultural aesthetic, and what is it? And how is different from the aesthetic of non-Singaporeans?


Blogger Ivan Chew said...

To (1), I say yes. But not sure if you can turn it on or off. Personally, I feel this sense of aesthetic was in me in the first place, then noticed by my parents to do something about it -- nothing fancy or long term, just art classes, and I think it just cascaded from there. And I think aesthetic sense is inate in all of us; simply a matter of degrees and perhaps variations of "taste".

For (2), it's music, art, writing. No it doesn't have to be unique. I just need to enjoy the process. I realise I carry over this "creativity" into work as well in terms of thinking and how I see things. At least I try to. It's a conscious effort, I have to say.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous porcorosso said...

There are probably a great many Singaporeans who have a strongly developed sense of aesthetics in that they know when something is good or beautiful - we may not see enough plays, read enough books or look at enough paintings but we can tell when it is good. I have always believed that a pre-requisite to what may be loosely termed as creativity is an agricultural surplus. In that you can only afford to "make" art if you are not busy trying to feed your family. I now believe that you also need a leisured class to support the fruits of that creativity - think of the Romans or the Chinese. Even in New York today, there are thousands of people who rush across Manhattan at 7 pm to "get to" some event.

Then there is the issue of turning creativity into a creation. Modern art has been more or less successful in blurring the lines between an idea and the expression of the idea but there are still parts of art which is a craft - writing for example does not come easily to everyone. And you still have to devote the time.

Cross-culturalism - this is probably a function of time as well. Until Singaporeans develop a culture which is stronger than the ethnic culture they were born with, there will be limits to cultural positioning. Take something not too obviously cultural - new buildings in Singapore don't really look like Chinese, Indian or Malay buildings. They look like modern buildings in London, Tokyo or NY (but not Paris or Rome). Architects here subscribe to an international aesthetic not a cultural one. There was much talk in the 1970's about a tropical architectural movement but by and large, architecture in Singapore and probably Asia is predominantly Western.

As to Singaporean art in its widest sense, there is a lot which is frankly quite crap (funding is a double edged sword) but more on that later - I need to get to work and contribute to the agricultural surplus.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Aesthetic sense definitely needs to be cultivated, and it has to be cultivated from an early age. It's a lifelong process. If you start at age 20, it'll be too late.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous porcorosso said...

Well, if you start at 20 but cram massive amounts in over the next 10 years, you will better off than if you never started and the added benefit is that you can then spend your 30's deciding what you like and what you don't. Better late than never.

Anyway, now that I have come to the end of my 30's, I have tried to keep up my 50-50 ambitions ... 50 books a year, 50 performances and 50 films. I don't always succeed, some years are better than others.

Books are easy - by page 12 or so, you can usually decide if it is worth your while continuing. With films, there is enough of a choice so there is a fairly good chance you end up with something you like - even on Singapore Airlines which has at least 3 or 4 films I'd want to watch. Every flight.

Performances are tougher - the last time I walked out of something was a Christmas panto last year - but you really get a mixed bag and you will not know until you get there, sit down and start watching.

I blame this on funding - we fund a lot of projects and we give them all small amounts. Some of these projects really do not deserve to see the light of day. Few are exportable and even fewer are worth the money the punters are expected to spend on it.

Better to give more to a few but then, that's just me.

2:06 AM  
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7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard you need this for your book.

7:26 PM  

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