Genre / Generic

I have reproduced here a brilliant text on ‘Genre’ from Seth Godin’s recent book called ‘The Practice : Shipping Creative Work’. I thought of paraphrasing this subchapter, but it is so crisply written, it couldn’t be made any shorter. (note all bold emphasis is mine)

“Genre, not Generic 
The world is too busy to consider your completely original conception.
The people you bring your work to want to know what it rhymes with, what category it fits in, what they’re supposed to compare it to. Please put it in a container for us, they say. We call that container “genre.” 
That’s not a cheap shortcut; it’s a service to the person you’re seeking to change. 
Generic work is replaceable. A generic can of beans can come from any company, because they’re all the same.
But genre permits us to be original. It gives us a framework to push against. 
Shawn Coyne has written brilliantly about genre. Not generic, which is boring, but genre, which gives your audience a clue as to what this work is about. 
What’s the format? What should it cost? What does it remind me of? Ski resorts are a genre. So are monster movies. 
Without genre, we’re unable to process the change you seek to make. It’s too difficult to figure out what you are doing and for whom, so we walk away.
No one goes out of their way to get a copy of a commodity because copies don’t make change happen. Copies aren’t worth much.
Genre is a box, a set of boundaries, something the creative person can leverage against.The limits of the genre are the place where you can do your idiosyncratic work. 
To make change happen, the artist must bend one of those boundaries, one of those edges.
Generic is a trap, but genre is a lever.”

It is a consolation to read this and it is an interesting premise to work with. 
Isn’t this what Nolan did with The Dark Knight Trilogy. He took the very familiar super hero genre and pushed the boundaries – imperfect hero, real world scenarios, strong supporting characters, super powers backed by science and an iconic first origin story (1)

Isn’t this what Alvaro Siza did with the genre of Modernism – made it malleable to the specificity of a place. Like in the house at Mallorca, he fragments the overall form of the house to negotiate with the landscape, unlike the super-neutral white boxes lifted from ground. 

Isn’t this what Geoffrey Bawa did with the vernacular – pushed the language of the local and the familiar to adapt to new typologies. Like in Lunuganga, the additions made by him removes the weight of the stereotomic volumes of the vernacular to more translucent fluid spaces connecting the nature and the built form.

Architecture can become more inclusive, by understanding what rhymes with the everyday, ordinary, familiar and relevant.


Notes :
(1) A extended read on The Dark Knight Trilogy : https://screenrant.com/dc-batman-the-dark-knight-superhero-movie-best/

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