SINGAPORE: Beyond 2005, Asia's first ever summit for the creative industries, kicked off on Tuesday here with a call by Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications and Arts (MICA), Dr Lee Boon Yang, for the island state to think global with the rapid economic growth of China and India. "The creative industry is an agent of change for Singapore to reinvent itself, and convergence creates fresh opportunities," he said.
The two-day summit has brought together 10 world-renowned creative icons from diverse fields with the objective of generating a cross-fertilisation of ideas, which can open up new vistas for creativity in the Asian context. The summit is jointly presented by Creative Industries Singapore, a division of MICA, and Global Brand Forum. As Dr Lee observed, "knowledge and technology are commodities in today's world".
In an impressive line-up of creative achievers, the first day saw presentations by internationally acclaimed, Pritzker Prize winning Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, top-notch fashion designer Martine Sitbon, and her colleague and fashion art director, Marc Ascoli, and renowned computer scientist Jaron Lanier from California.
Said Dr Tan Chin Nam, Permanent Secretary to MICA, and chairman of the summit steering committee, "The vision for the summit is to bring together creative minds from all over the world and facilitate an interactive dialogue on trends, best practices, challenges and opportunities."
Koolhaas provided a sweeping canvas of architectural trends across times – often critical of his own ilk, who "create structures without adequate research. Architectural creativity has to be in sync with cultures, functionality and aesthetics."
The four panel discussions on media, lifestyle and technology, design and creative ecosystems came up with some interesting thoughts from the panelists. For instance, irreverence can be a very powerful tool to create something new, provided the irreverence in context; that the goal of creativity is happiness, but labeling design can be dangerous; and that creativity should transcend guidelines and stipulations as it otherwise can lead to "commoditisation of creativity".
The day came to an end with Jaron Lanier holding the participants spellbound with a scintillating, 75-minute-long exposition on the digital world and its relationship with creativity. "The Playstation may help hand-eye coordination, but from the creative point of view it is no good. It encourages a very narrow goal for the players. Creativity has to transcend such narrow achievement targets. In contrast, a new game in the US, Second Life, encourages creativity as it sets no goals for its users."
He took potshots at some of Microsoft's new features for using a Word document. "It is not a great use of creativity on the part of its engineers, though they happen to be my friends!"
Day 2 will feature keynote addresses by Bob Isherwood, Worldwide Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Indian film director, Shekhar Kapur, and John Howkins, author of 'The Creative Economy'.