In an era of instant (often fleeting) information Open Manifesto continues to go against the grain by challenging the culture of immediacy, preferring instead to embrace a more considered approach to curating and assembling a publication that includes a variety of amazing and diverse contributors. It’s my sincere belief that a significant portion of the material contained in each Open Manifesto has the longevity to support this approach. And issue #6 is no different.
Like previous issues it has taken over a year to complete; like previous issues Open Manifesto has handpicked each contributor for their insights, opinions and expertise, before presenting them in this single volume—a passion that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to pursue; and like previous issues I truly believe issue #6 has been worth taking the time to research, source, produce and collect each specific contribution—and I hope you’ll agree.
As always, I owe a debt of gratitude to each contributor, for their patience and support—particularly those who submitted material at the beginning of the process.
This issue, which focuses on Myth, was fascinating to research and explore, leading to accounts of various myths that have been integrated into culture through advertising campaigns, branding and marketing, TV shows, business, media, design movements, environmental issues and education, among other things. Each contributor, in their own way, has interrogated particular myths—and in some cases has done so with sheer brute force. What lies ahead in these pages is an entertaining, educational and engaging look at the power of the Myth.
Settle in, and enjoy!
Kevin Finn, Founder & Editor
If everyone says so, then it must be true—right?
When I moved to Australia at the end of 1998 I was confronted by a seemingly broad consensus—“Australia is so far away from everything!” Even taken lightly, that’s a pretty big claim.
Being from Ireland, I have an acute understanding of the distance between these two countries and the scale of the globe. But I struggled to understand why people in Australia were so quick to accept this assumption of being so far away from “everything.” To me, this hypotheses ignored Australia’s location in the South Pacific, a region that is incredibly rich with cultural, design and craft-orientated countries. It ignored the fact Australia is on the doorstep of Japan, China and South East Asia. Surely that accounts for “something”?
After a while, I began to see the ruse. It became evident to me that it was people in (or from) America, Britain and Europe who were implying “Australia is so far away from everything!”, the by-product of which carried a subtext: “Our countries are everything”. Add to this the migrant nation that Australia has become (with many ‘home countries’ being a considerable distance from Australia), and the close ties Australia has with Britain, meant this assumption seemed incontrovertible. In short, because enough people were saying Australia is far away from everything, Australians simply agreed—en masse.
Over a decade later, things are changing dramatically. Now that South East Asia has become the dominant global economic engine room, with America and Europe struggling to stay afloat, the situation seems to have reversed and Australia is perfectly positioned to capitalise on what has been labeled the Asian century. In the spirit of sweeping statements, Australia is exactly where everything is happening-—right now, and for the foreseeable future!
So, could Australia be forgiven to claim it is now America, Britain and Europe who are suddenly “far away from everything”? It seems a bit disingenuous, but if enough people said so, everyone might just be convinced it’s true.
I’m not creative
I regularly hear people say “I’m not creative,” but it still surprises me how many truly believe that, unless they’re a designer, or an artist, or a member of the creative industries community, they aren’t creative. Whether intentionally or not, it’s as if the ‘creative industries’ have somehow successfully developed a monopoly on creativity—as though running a business doesn’t require creativity, or being a teacher is non-creative, or being a parent doesn’t call for any sort of creativity, or that engaging in ‘regular’ pursuits falls outside the realm of creative input.
Late last year, I attended a lecture from a prominant Australian architect. As expected, it was attended by architects, but the audience also included many non-architects, which was refreshing to see and served to highlight how architecture touches the wider public on many levels.
When it came to the Q&A session most—if not all—the non-architects prefaced their questions: “I’m not an architect, I’m just an ordinary person...” I could see why these particular people wanted to provide some context for their questions by stating they weren’t architects. But it infuriated me that the architects in the auditorium found this label-—of being an ordinary person-—incredibly amusing; many laughed smugly and had an air of condecension (including the prominant architect), as though being an architect was somehow extraordinary—as though ordinary people aren’t creative and need to be classified as such. Bollix!
Many years ago, when I was Joint Creative Director of Saatchi Design, Sydney (part of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising network) the agency staff averaged between 160 and 180 employees. The agency had an internal email channel for the staff, which was frequented by various requests for research and project feedback, among other things.
At one point, someone in the agency was conducting research along the lines of:“When are you most creative?” This question was despatched through the All-Staff email channel and, as expected, many people replied, which included various attempts at impressing their colleagues. I remember thinking at the time some responses were funny, some were insightful, some were surprising and some were shallow. But I have forgotten the content of all those email replies—except for one.
Late in the afternoon, an email came through from a (stylish) female junior Account Manager. It went something like this: “I’m not an Art Director or a Copywriter, I’m just an Account Manager. But I think the time I am most creative is in the morning, when I am standing in front of my wardrobe deciding what I’ll wear for the day.”
To me, this response perfectly encapsulated the reality that being creative is an everyday occurance; it happens everywhere, all the time—and to everyone! It’s what makes human ingenuity so dynamic. But many people simply don’t recognise that these occurances and these decisions are creative acts because they’ve been conditioned to view themselves as being ordinary people—and not part of a creative community.
For those of us who have been labeled ‘creative’ (because of our job, our training or our hobbies) we must constantly remind oursleves—and others—that creativity is universal and incredibly varied. It does not belong to a specific segment of the community, nor does it fall into neat categories. To take the high ground and classify ourselves as something extraordinary is to fail to understand the true nature of creativity. Worse still: To make someone feel like they’re not creative is reprehensible.