MPavilion Summer Reading List
MARCH READING LIST— SPACE: EXPERIMENTS IN TIME
with Mabel O. Wilson
Professor Mabel O. Wilson is a New York-based designer and cultural historian whose research and teaching examines the impact of social inequalities on architecture and the built environment, with a focus on politics and cultural memory in black America. At Columbia University she is a Professor of Architecture, a co-director of Global Africa Lab and the Associate Director at the Institute for Research in African American Studies.
Professor Wilson’s trans-disciplinary practice, Studio And, has been a competition finalist for several important cultural institutions including Lower Manhattan’s African Burial Ground Memorial and the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro). She has authored Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016) and Negro Building: African Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (2012). Professor Wilson is also a founding member of Who Builds Your Architecture? (WBYA?), a collective that advocates for fair labour practices on building sites worldwide.
We Can Make Rain but No One Came to Ask
Atlas Group/Walid Raad, (text by Jalal Toufic)
“We Can Make Rain but No One Came to Ask,” a video made by the Atlas Group in 2003 and also a text by Lebanese theorist Jalal Toufic, explores the multiplicities of the city’s temporal landscape—the flow of historical time, the disruptions of wartime and the cadences of everyday life.The video documents the site of an explosion in the Furn Ech Chubak neighborhood of Beirut by drawing upon an imaginary investigation. “We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask” draws into its temporal field an elaborate matrix of video footage, still photographs, architectural drawings and sound bytes. It forms part of the Atlas Group’s larger archive, a collection of artifacts, along with an extensive database maintained by artist Walid Raad, that contains documentation from the contemporary history of Beirut.
Published in 1972, the english translation arrived in 1974, Italian writer Italo Calvino imagines fifty five cities described in an imaginary conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. Calvino crafts an unfolding taxonomy of these cities—Thin Cities, Cities and Memory, Continuous Cities, Hidden Cities or Cities and the Dead. The story of each city—Isadora, Zaira, or Despina to name a few—becomes accumulation of traces of the past, architectures of the present, and designs for possible futures. With its second person narrative, one is never certain whether each city with its unique characteristics are distinct places or different parts or time scales of the same city, that city being Venice.
Cinema 2 – The Time-Image
In Cinema 2, French theorist Gilles Deleuze considers the possible evolution of the cinema image toward that of the electronic image—the tele, video, and numerical image, which were emerging technologies in the 1980s. Screens, once confined to the darkened movie house to be gazed upon by a stationary audience, proliferate on the mobile technologies of laptops, smartphones, iPads, and cars and in the bustling crowded corridors of airports, elevators, gyms, and market check-out counters. The space of the city has evolved to accommodate the new networks, temporal technologies, and uses, architecture is beginning to respond to it in kind. But also it is important to recognize that these new temporal technologies have already been incorporated into the processes of creating architecture.
“He used to write me from Africa. He contrasted African time to European time, and also to Asian time. He said that in the 19th century mankind had come to terms with space, and that the great question of the 20th was the coexistence of different concepts of time,” explains the voiceover narration of French filmmaker Chris Marker’s 1983 film Sans Soleil/Sunless. Marker’s diverse and influential work spatializes the memory processes that have emerged in a networked postwar milieu. Sans Soleil provides a compelling model of contemporary life as experienced by a camera-toting nomad navigating the world of appearances and electronic ghosts. The unfolding images of Sans Soleil drift across boundaries of time/space, memory/history, consumption/ritual, east/west and self/other in a visual derivé. Marker’s opus explores how collective memory, embedded into daily routines and rituals of loss, operates in places impacted by various stages of modernization.
“Memento Mori” the basis for Chris Nolan, Memento
“Time is an absurdity. An abstraction. The only thing that matters is this moment,” writes Jonathan Nolan. What happens when short term memory fails? How can one sustain a consistent sense of time, the ability to hold in some fashion the chain of successive events that unfolds the present into the past? This is Jonathan Nolan’s protagonist Earl’s misfortune as he tries to orient himself in time. To accomplish this requires that he externalize his memory via lists, post it notes and hand drawn maps. For the important facts he tattoos on his body, which means others cannot manipulate these written thoughts and Earl cannot lose them. Living in the moment also means that we never quite know where Earl (Lenny in the film version) lives. He finds himself in a series of non-places: a“bare room,” a“little room,” “A ROOM IN THE HOSPITAL,” or inside a car. When memory fails and time fragments, space flattens to series of forgettable locales.
The fluctuating tensions between the organizing element of the frame, the architecture, and its discordant material content, its program, initiate movement, what Tschumi termed as “the event,” within the Transcripts cinematic structure; his aim—to use time as a means to test architecture’s limits. By exposing the unstable foundations of architectural discourse through a deconstruction of its representational structures, Tschumi challenged core tenets of modernism, specifically the unity of form and meaning.The Manhattan Transcripts inverted the modern movement’s hierarchy of space over time. Its filmic narratives disrupted the teleology of modernism’s grand advance to splinter architecture’s possibilities toward other futures and experiences
febrUARY READING LIST—1+1: who are we together?
with cooking sections
Cooking Sections [Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe] is a duo of spatial practitioners established in London in 2013. They explore the systems that organise the world through food. Using installation and performance, their research-based practice explores the overlapping boundaries between visual arts, architecture, ecology and geopolitics. They have worked on multiple iterations of the long-term site-responsive CLIMAVORE project since 2015, exploring how to eat as humans change climates. In 2016 they opened The Empire Remains Shop, a platform to critically speculate on implications of selling the remains of Empire today. Their first book about the project was published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City.
They were awarded the Special Prize at the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize and were nominated for the Visible Award for socially-engaged practices. Daniel is the recipient of the 2020 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize for the research project Being Shellfish.
Are we 100% ourselves? What percentage of otherness are we ingesting, inhaling, absorbing, or licking that is changing our most inner matter? In this post-industrial era, Hannah Landecker notes how the sheer amount of toxic substances circulating through bodies is such that bodies are actually the ones circulating through chemicals, and not the other way around. In that sense, this collection of readings tries to help us think of digestion in a wider sense to understand forms of metabolic interactions with power structures, polluting networks, or hormonal exchanges that are shaping our bodies, and innermost surroundings. When thinking about who we are, these texts can perhaps guide us to understand institutional power structures in a hyper-industrialised world, as well as interspecies interactions between humans and other-than-human organisms with which we are starting to literally bind together. At the same time, they may induce forms of empowerment, subversion and emancipation beyond the limits of our skin.
Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the Factory Farm
Durham: Duke University Press, 2020
What would animals say if we asked the right questions?
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016
Kitchen Marronage: A Genealogy of Jerk
Tao Leigh Goffe
In The Funambulist 31 (Sept-Oct 2020)
The River Is In Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017
How Forests Think Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human
University of California Press 2013
A metabolic history of manufacturing waste: food commodities and their outsides
In Food, Culture and Society (2019), VOL. 22, NO. 5: 530–547.
Salmon: A Red Herring
London: isolarii, 2020
JANUARY READING LIST—PRESERVATION: PROPAGATING KNOWLEDGE
Hyphen-Labs is an international studio working at the intersection of technology, art, science, and the future. Through their global vision and multi-disciplinary backgrounds, they are driven to create engaging ways to explore planetary-centered design. In the process they challenge conventions and stimulate conversations, placing collective needs and experiences at the center of evolving narratives.
We picked up these gems;
For our desire to stretch upward and step into the future lightly,
To brew new states of mind every morning,
To expand our substance, enhancing the human through attributes that bring the species closer.
Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Happiest and healthiest of all the new years to you!!!!
Hope you are well and safe.
– ece + carmen
The Wild Book of Inventions
Chus Martines (ed.)
Parable of the Sower
Robin Wall Kilmmerer
The Entangled Life
Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska (DIR.)
Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky
Steven McGregor (dir.)
Episode 35, Julia Watson on the Power of Indigenous Technologies to Transform Our Planet
Episode 109: Iran Is A Normal Country, with Zahra Shafei
Art & Artists
december READING LIST—IRL: Exploring Social Spaces
with Danièle Hromek
Danièle Hromek is a Budawang woman of the Yuin nation with French and Czech heritage.
Danièle’s research in the spatial disciplines considers Aboriginal relationships to space and Country. She investigates how to Indigenise the built environment by creating spaces to embed Indigenous rights and culture. Her research rethinks the values that inform Aboriginal understandings of space through Indigenous spatial knowledge and cultural practice, in doing so considering the sustainability of culture from a spatial perspective.
Danièle’s practice works in the intersection of architecture, interiors, urban design, performance design and fine arts. Her work often considers the urban Aboriginal condition, the Indigenous experience of Country and contemporary Indigenous identities. Danièle’s objective is to design flourishing futures for First Peoples and for culture.
Welcome to My Country
Laklak Burarrwanga, Sarah Wright, Sandie Suchet-Pearson and Kate Lloyd
2013, Allen and Unwin (online e-book and paperback)
These same authors publish together in academic contexts also (do look them up, usually with ‘Bawaka Country’ as lead author) and I’ve spent many an hour lost in their stunning descriptions of Country, how they relate to space and place, and their deep enduring and beautiful connections to Yolngu Country. Invite the family to read this with you and learn together about a whole other way of understanding the land, a land so rich in meaning and story.
What the Colonists Never Knew: A History of Aboriginal Sydney
Dennis Foley and Peter Read
2020, National Museum of Australia Press
Despite being the place colonists first impacted, Aboriginal peoples in now-Sydney still carry deep histories, lived experiences and stories, and Uncle Dennis Foley and Peter Read’s book is quite simply a gift that draws deep time into present day. What is hidden by asphalt, concrete, steel and glass in the place now called Sydney comes to life in the book including intimate familial stories, lore, songs and history. If only the colonists had taken time to find out what they were ignorantly and at times purposefully destroying…
For more information and to buy this book, visit the National Museum of Australia website.
Us Women, Our Ways, Our World
Edited by Pat Dudgeon, Jeannie Herbert, Jill Milroy and Darlene Oxenham
2017, Magabala Books
As women we know we have a long way to go to achieve a semblance of equality. As Indigenous women we have even further with the weight of colonisation sitting on top of the patriarchy and sexism. This is why I love this book that provides space for Indigenous women’s voices to tell their stories and truths through a series of intimate yet brave essays about resilience, aspirations, heritage and personal reflections.
For more information and to buy this book, visit Magabala Books – Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher.
Aileen Moreton-Robinson with David Rutledge
2020, Philosopher’s Zone, Radio National
Aileen Moreton-Robinson has the most fantastic mind and if you have access to academic libraries look up her writing, you will not regret it. In this podcast episode she explains how she was taught by her grandfather a very intimate learning of tracking that she still uses now as a methodology and means of framing and understanding the western world, racism, identity and whiteness. Her way of speaking about relationships and connections to Country brings you into that Country, while challenging your perception of land and capitalism.
Listen to the podcast on the ABC website.
This no punches pulled talk by Amy Thunig leaves no question about the importance of collectively disrupting the presence of systems and structures that established the continent now known as Australia. While this truthtelling of what has been made invisible by terra nullius might leave some feeling uncomfortable, make no mistakes it enables those who have been disempowered to feel powerful. It is no wonder truthtelling is so desired by First Nations peoples in this continent and indeed worldwide, and no wonder those who hold power so quickly decline the truth being told.
For more information and to watch this talk, visit the TEDx website.
2020, Friday Essay, The Conversation
One of my Elders says fire is an Aboriginal person’s best friend; it warms us, enables us to cook and provides a social yarning space. Yet any who lived through the fires of summer 2019/2020 know fire can also devastate. Those of us with deep connections to Country know through our stories that these fires are a result of human-centredness that have enabled greed and ego to ignore not only science but First Peoples saying this ain’t right, and any arguments to the contrary are just an extension of that ignorance and greediness. Vanessa’s very personal and heart-wrenching essay tells of her connection to Country but also to cultural fire and women, and the importance of working together to heal the land.
November READING LIST—Re-Emerge: A Remix
with Rachaporn Choochuey
Rachaporn Choochuey is co-founder and Design Director of all(zone) ltd, an architecture and design studio in Bangkok known for reuse and recycling, and employing local materials and techniques in bold new ways. The studio’s projects include the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, a dramatic transformation of a warehouse using contemporary techniques inspired by traditional Thai temple architecture; as well as its entry in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015, a quickly installed “half-temporary” dwelling designed to address unaffordable housing and utilise vacant high rises in Bangkok. Choochuey trained at Chulalongkorn University, Columbia University and Tokyo University, and teaches in the Faculty of Architecture at Chulalongkorn University, devoting considerable time to teaching in Thailand and abroad.
Collaboration in the Era of Covid-19: “Hotel Corona” podcast episode
The episode “Hotel Corona” from the podcast Rough Translation tells an extraordinary story of an Israeli quarantine hotel where people, despite their starkly different religious beliefs and backgrounds, be it Israelis, Palestinians, secular, religious, learn to get along and naturally become cooperative while recovering from Covid-19 together. The story is a testament that even in a culturally charged place like Israel, during the pandemic when the well-being of one equals the well-being of everyone, people can bypass these differences and realize that in the end, we are all equally human.
You can listen to how the whole story unfolds here.
The Milk Tea Alliance is a loose grassroots coalition of the pro-democracy youths in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan — the countries with the love for drinking tea with milk. The group shares the same goal of fighting against the inequality and the injustice made worse by the oppressive regime specific to their regions. The Alliance, formed spontaneously on Twitter with the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance, was ignited by the quarrel with the nationalistic Chinese internet users over the different views on the far reaching authority of the Chinese government and has since progressed into sharing demonstration strategies and advocating for their allies’ specific demands, helping the movement grow stronger in fighting for freedom across the region.
For more information on the origin story of the Alliance and how the collaborative efforts inspire and strengthen the movement, please see this article by the Atlantic.
Through cooking, Asma Khan connects with people across cultures by providing them the opportunities to share moments of joy on the dining tables. Originally from Kolkata then relocated to London, Khan understands the longing for the taste of home and shares the love for food with the female South Asian service workers whom she befriended. Later Khan started her supper club at home that eventually grew into the popular restaurant Darjeeling Express. It was these “sisters” from less privileged background, none of whom were professionally trained, who became the backbone of the operation. Their collaboration in the kitchen forms a space where they can visibly express their voice in the society where immigrant service workers are often unrecognised.
You can read more about her story from this article by the Guardian and see how he famous dum biryani is made in her 2019 Chef’s Table episode on Netflix.
Online game collaboration gives a new form of society
Online gaming, once dismissed as a mere pastime for teens, has become a space where people with less privilege and all kinds of disabilities can leave behind their disadvantages and fairly earn respect and acceptance for their skills and characters as individuals. Through streaming and the online communities surrounding these games, they can have more opportunities connecting with others, overcoming social anxiety and depression in the newly formed society. Abled or disabled aside, they often collaborate on tasks and encourage each other without letting their conditions hinder their goals. The gaming space becomes a community that is run by the actual collaboration of the people, a new space where everyone is equal.
This Washington Post article tells the stories of the gamers who are saved by the connections formed within the virtual gaming space.
World renowned cellist Yo-yo Ma formed Silkroad Ensemble, a collective of artists, composers, and musicians from the Eurasian traditions, as an experiment of “what happens when strangers meet?” For the past 20 years, these artists collaborate and share the sounds from their cultures to make new music, keeping their traditions alive through the collaboration with others. By performing with and for the people around the globe, they use music to connect and overcome cultural differences.
We would like to recommend listening to the video recordings of their live performances to see the exquisite traditional instruments and the pure joy of people playing music together.
The Fandom of Thailand
Thai K-pop fans adapt the strategies and experiences acquired from supporting their beloved idols to help fundraise and provide necessary equipment for the on-going pro-democracy demonstrations in Thailand. The love they share for their idols creates these tight-knit online communities that not only help mobilize donation money but also evolve into a robust network of knowledge sharing and discussion platforms on issues ranging from protest techniques to political debates, while still using K-pop memes and slangs as a mean to communicate.
Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation
While we are living in the time of crisis where cooperation is perhaps the most required, we are, at the same time, trying to avoid engaging with the people who are different from us. In the book Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation, the second in his Homo Faber series, Richard Sennett, one of the most renowned sociologists of our time, explores how people can cooperate in several conditions. He points out that collaboration is a form of craft that requires practice to gain the skills —to listen and discuss, rather than to debate. If we want to overcome today’s crisis, we must earn the skill. Collaboration is embedded in our human nature. We progress working together as a group, not alone.