Creative Repurposing

“Find things that don’t belong on a wall, and hang them. Whether it’s a broken guitar or a three-legged chair, hanging it up makes it art.” Josh Hughes, Punk Shui

It might help to start by explaining what creative repurposing is. I can think of two ways to do this.

Somewhat unexpectedly, one way is with dictionary definitions, supported by various texts. The OED  identifies repurpose as a transitive verb meaning, ‘convert or adapt for a different purpose or for use in a different way’, and notes early use in relation to compilation or reworking of audio, video, text and graphic materials, and in the pharmaceutical industry (aka drug repositioning). Examples include Nicholas Negroponte’s (Being Digital, 1995) use of the word in relation to the entertainment industry repackaging film as video or videodisc, and his description of the book as having been created from repurposed magazine articles. This early meaning about the assemblage of existing materials seems more akin to collage than to the deliberate change of purpose implied by repurposing. In short, the OED definition and early use don’t get at more recent meanings.

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What’s My Job?

Here’s a question I’ve been pondering for years, even decades.

How might one combine interests in the following?

  • Creative repurposing of material and social resources; making things, building, doing stuff with tools.
  • Creative/productive use of leftover, neglected urban spaces, a.k.a. generativities.
  • Landscape, agricultural, and local heritages.
  • Food, particularly artisan food.
  • Community activism, cohesion & participation.
  • Regeneration schemes and issues.
  • Social sector research.
  • Web communications technology, i.e. social media, and graphical representations, e.g. maps.
  • Free neighbourhood social events.
  • A living wage, support in kind, or other means of sustenance.

Is there any one activity that combines all of these? If there is, I haven’t found it yet, especially anything including that last listed item. But the lack of outright success hasn’t stopped me from searching. Why let a thing like a poor material quality of life stop me from doing what I want to do? Particularly when peace of mind is usually more important than material comfort.

Someday, maybe when the recession’s over, there’ll be a job, some paid work, a means of material self support, and this won’t be an issue any longer. In the meantime, I make bits of progress, managing to get by on scraps, luck, stupidity and stubbornness.

With a bit more luck, something will show up as a result of the thinking and writing; something that helps identify and clarify possibilities, links and resources; sets out a rough guide; serves as a distillation and point of reference. In turn, it becomes worthwhile to produce a series of posts relating to the above, in the Bag category, and using the Careering tag plus relevant others.

The first set of posts should probably be about each of the items above, in turn. Perhaps the series of posts helps to seed other sorts of writing, or at least provides an outline and a bit of history/context.

On with it, then.