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On The BMW Guggenheim Lab: Are ‘Emerging Talents’ Really What We Need?

BMW Guggenheim Lab: Stage is setScott Lynch

You can tell a lot from the language people use– as well as from the language they don’t use. An online visit to the “mobile” BMW Guggenheim Lab, which recently touched down on Houston Street and Second Avenue in all its up-to-the-minute minimalist splendor, suggests that the “international, interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents” running it are engaged in the paradoxical task of trying to discover “innovative” solutions to intractable urban problems while thinking solely in clichés.

The Web site itself is of course cheery and bright, featuring lots of baby blues, the usual self-promotional videos, fussy graphics, things to click on, and, of course, an Internet letter box in which you – an ordinary citizen! – can post your radical visionary ideas about how to improve the city without even buying a stamp.

The economy is almost beyond repair, world banks are facing a meltdown, entire segments of the population have been served with their divorce papers by any and all employers, but the Guggenheim’s site is full of madly utopian visions such as that eye-catching poster in which all of New York’s major buildings are squeezed into the rectangle usually occupied by Central Park, while the rest of the island becomes a green, pristine forest – much as it was before those horrid Europeans arrived in their high-tech wooden boats. Yeah, that’ll work. Just watch out for the bows and arrows.

In a section of the Web site named “I Meditate NY” – a joke in itself – we read that “creativity is the font of innovation.” This is about as perceptive as stating that “sexuality is the mechanism of reproduction.” There’s a reason certain sentences such as “necessity is the mother of invention” stick around forever, while others barely make it to the end of the week. I think we can agree that “creativity is the font of innovation” belongs in the second category. It’s think-tank language, dead on arrival. Read more…