[transcribed from youtube] This is a transcript of my summary notes for the first graduation conference organized by SEA , Songs of Turbulence, where the school had invited Dilip da Cunha, Marina Tabassum, Juan Du, Anuradha Iyer Siddiqi and Zuzana Gombasova to present their ideas and converse with one of the faculties at SEA.
I was asked to summarize the presentations and conversations that took place over two days of the conference. I chose to think through Dilip’s concept of wetness as an idea that binds all the presentations, which also helped to reveal interesting potentials of each of the presentations at various scales -planetary, cities, buildings, everyday objects and the microscopic.
One of the things that I found that ties all the works -and that probably shows how powerful the idea of wetness is that is holds all the five presentations together in a very interesting manner. Conceptually it does so many interesting things but if we take the five presentations, today, right from Zuzana’s coconut water and the bacteria that need that coconut water and feed upon it. She opens up the microbial realm where the wetness is so prevalent. Marina, Juan Du and of course your work (Dilip da Cunha) opens up the deltas where most of the humanity is living today. In Anuradha’s case it is so subtle and yet so terrifying, that the reeds that grow in that arid region themselves become the building, you know, in that sense, the minute amount of water that is required to grow those reeds and that is required to clad mud on those reeds really say a lot about the idea of wetness that ties all the work together.
Without taking too much time, I thought in some sense to summarise, I thought it is like miniaturising their miniaturised presentations, into something smaller further -I might as well have written a tweet and gotten done with it. However, it would be nice to open up the scales of objects that the five presenters put forward for us. While Dilip opens up the planetary scale, the imagination of the whole world. Everything that is made in this world is nothing but minute waterbodies of varying intensities and densities, that was quite revealing in that sense.
At the scale of the settlement or city, instead of going to Juan Du I will think of Anuradha’s work, because the question of the citizenship its relationship with the city has been problematized in Anuradha’s case much more powerfully. With the recalling of Agamben’s category of bare life and the way subjecthood gets constructed in a stateless condition.
At the scale of the building, we can consider the marvellous work (Marina Tabassum’s works) where every project is conceptually tried to locate in the larger landscape of the dynamic and wild delta (of Bangladesh) where this practice is situated. What is interesting in Marina’s case is that, no doubt the delta is informing the local wisdom and practices but it seems that it is informing your practice as well. To borrow from Dilip’s talk again, I think it is a very nice example where water is not just cut out, as most architecture is kind of supposed to do, that line on the surface (referring to Dilip’s presentation), but what these practices and what Marina’s works also show is how water kind of comes in, folds in, moves out, sometimes let people take the building with them on the boat, and so on. It is an interesting way of how such practices have informed your own practice (addressing Marina).
At the scale of objects, I would like to invoke Juan Du here. I know your work is at the scale of the city and its fantastic with all the statistics and stuff. But what I found fascinating is that, one of the interesting argument that you are making is to tell the stories of the city from the people who have faced the impact of whether it is the developmental process, or it is the changing economy or the political economy of the country. You are also telling stories of how objects structure life at the scale of the home and house. I found that very fascinating. While you are working with the municipal corporations, local governments, but also you are working at the scale of the object. That by tweaking objects somehow you are able to fold in affordability, equity, wellbeing and I think that is an interesting possibility and has great potential for practices across South-Asia.
And at the scale of the unseen and unexplored, is where Zuzana’s microscopic realm becomes really interesting. Where we are, in some sense, finally coming to terms with engaging with non-human life forms to participate in the process of design. Not just communities or objects but also non-human life forms that we are able to kind of work and engage with to produce new design.
That’s my summary for the day.
[below are the links to all the five presentations and conversations from the conference]