Monday, April 12, 2010

Wonderful Words of Bruce Mau!

Written in 1998 when SZID was established, Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto For Growth" is a brilliant articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce's beliefs, strategies and motivations.

Bruce, we agree wholeheartedly------ thank you for this!


1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow.
Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce
it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience
events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we
all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of
unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you
stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome. When the
outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve
already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re
going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as
beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long
view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover
something of value.

6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in
search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the
process. Ask different questions.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production
as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack
judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to
begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does,
allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone

11. Harvest ideas. Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid,
generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand,
benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to
reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and
surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free
yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and
innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning
throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is
filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative

17. ——————————. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for
the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far,
been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest
of the world.

19. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for
something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of
yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today
will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it

22. Make your own tools. Hybridize your tools in order to build
unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new
avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even
a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther
carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And
the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone
has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the
morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not
good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages. Marshall McLuhan did this. By
decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called
our “noodle.”

28. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions
demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of
expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not

30. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any
other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of
cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able
to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth
of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a
‘charming artifact of the past.’
31. Don’t borrow money. Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By
maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly
rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline,
and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings
with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could
ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their
needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither
party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that
of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive,
dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–
simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I
think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll
never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.
We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel
Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused
imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up
something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid
trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge
because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made
obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth
often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces
— what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once
organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of
a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with
no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned
many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and
regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life.
They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold,
complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and
cross the fields.

41. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we
laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how
comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history.
Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a
direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded
or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes
us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every
memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such,
a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people
feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re
not free.