Ripple, Ripple, Rippling
Jingru (Cyan) Cheng and Chen Zhan
Future imaginaries are privatised and colonised. Not only does the capital apparatus expand through chasing assets by making everything else ruin, it also perpetuates through seizing the making of the future.
Against this backdrop, this project seeks to uncover a largely overlooked practice of future-making, one that is dispersed and circulated as part of daily life in the margin. How might the situated making of particular futures at specific sites constitute alternative imaginaries to the dominant narratives of the future?
Ripple, Ripple, Rippling is grounded in an award-winning design research on Chinese rurality, domesticity and collectivity since 2014. With the middle generation missing from more than 80% of contemporary rural families in China, Floating, Dissolving and Rippling are ways in which these families inhabit a multiplicity of political, social and spatial thresholds and enact position-taking. Embedded in the mundane moments, the peculiar spaces, the partial perspectives and the vulnerable depth, it is essentially through an elastic form of association that networks of immediate care and spontaneous collectivity are being acted out.
To forge a collective enunciation, Ripple, Ripple, Rippling proposes a documentary-fiction filmmaking project in collaboration with villagers in Shigushan, Wuhan. Beyond the documentary concerns of representation, experimental openings in daily life are to be curated, in which villagers can be active agents of co-creation. The proposed film is simultaneously an ethnographic documentation of existing practices, a hosting device of villagers’ own storytelling and imaginaries, and an Acted Manifesto through collective happenings in situ. Envisioned as an operative framework of constructing a different way of seeing, the filmmaking process seeks to invoke daily practices as being emergent, contingent and transformative and the margin as a space of radical openness, overflowing reality from the marginal everyday towards alternative imaginaries of how to live together, an ever-pressing global challenge.
Jingru (Cyan) Cheng is a transdisciplinary design researcher, whose path meanders through architecture, anthropology and visual art. Cyan’s practice does not dwell on a defined subject matter, but rather as a form of personal enquiry, and indeed, struggles. Driven by an urge to unsettle the domination of all those constituted as others, the wide-ranging themes include, non-canonical histories and socio-spatial models, diverse ways of cultural knowing and being, aesthetic agency, and modes of co-existence and affinity between human and non-human. Her work received commendations by the RIBA President’s Awards for Research from the Royal Institute of British Architects, in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and has been exhibited at Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics (ZKM, 2020-21), Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (2019), and Venice Architecture Biennale (2018), among others. Cyan co-leads an architectural design studio, ADS7, at the Royal College of Art, exploring politics of the atmosphere. She holds a PhD by Design from the Architectural Association (AA) in London, and was the co-director of AA Wuhan Visiting School (2015-17).
Chen Zhan is an architect, anthropologist and independent filmmaker. Chen’s film practice focuses on the socio-political struggles of the marginalised through the lens of the everyday. Her short documentary, Ahmad, tells the story of a Lebanese asylum seeker who rebuilds his life through cooking and food-sharing. The film debuted at the London International Documentary Festival (2019). Her anthropological research develops a critical analysis of future-making at the intersection between design, material culture and consumerism. In architecture, Chen was dedicated to the realisation of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Leeds.
Cyan and Chen are currently working on a short film, Orchid, Wasp and I, a dystopian story seeking to unsettle the anthropocentric practices that exacerbate the climate crisis.