A Project for the New Year

A new year begins, and the heart turns to the question: what is the creative project for this year? Of course, the day job keeps me in plenty of creative work - architectural and urban design, to be specific - but there is always a personal project or projects of some type bubbling away in the background, to be serviced after hours, run wholly on passion. First, the little stuff: I would like to learn how to use my beautiful Sony DSLR properly some time this year, and I am thinking of doing a private course at a local photography outfit. The shop is called 'Michaels' and they have been selling cameras and promoting photography in Melbourne city since early in the 20th Century. They run interesting courses for photographers of all levels. The city is my subject: Melbourne is very photogenic, and there is much to discover behind the lens. So that's strike one.

I would also like to attempt some random sketching and drawing around the city, something that I have neglected in the last few years. I always used to draw, but now I seldom find time to do so outside of work, which is not a good state of affairs. The tools need sharpening, as they say. Strike two: drawing.

The major project is neither drawing nor photography. My major project this year, like last year, is writing. Late last year I began to investigate the process of writing fiction. There is a book project inside my head, and I suspect that fiction will happen some time in the near future, but this year I want to expand my freelance writing activities into a related non-fictional project.

Here is what I know so far. The book will be about design. The book will be personal, and something akin to a personal philosophy of design as a process and an activity. The book will be an exorcism of some of the more noxious habits of thought and process that I picked up at University, and although that is now some 12 years in the past, I am still processing the lessons - good and bad - learnt at the institution. I recently described this post-educational state of mind as a 'hangover'. It is time to move on.

Such a quaint project would never have occurred to me before now, as I was raised academically on the gloomy post-structuralist perspective that subjectivity is unavoidable, but irretrievably flawed. In a world where all value is relative and all knowledge subjective, what is the point of staking out a personal territory? We might as well mire ourselves in irony, cynicism and the particularity of the banal, or so the argument goes. Now I am not so sure, and I would like to explore my set of values in relation to my native field, which is architecture. So using this as my starting point, my creative project for 2011 is to start digging back into my past, to re-engage with the less-burdened creative self of my childhood and teenage years, and rediscover the simple magic of making and discovering, unencumbered by the constant self-doubt of a post-structuralist education. This is indeed a personal project, and I can only take it on faith that there will be something in it for the reader, who may relate to my situation.

2011: here I come, ready or not.