Islands Emerging from our Imaginations

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Thanks to Maria Chan of National Geographic, I had the great pleasure to meet with the Emerging Islands arts collective: https://www.emergingislands.com/projects/follow-the-water

In the meeting the amazing team made me really want to apply to the residency in La Union.

  • Nicola Sebastian
  • Samantha Zarandin
  • David Loughran
  • Hannah Reyes Morales

The conversation was incredibly rich and inspiring, and I would like to share some notes and inspiration, articulated around #keywords, and key event dates. Something may be brewing…

Table of Content

Location, people, stories, culture

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I grew up 2 years (the best ones!) of my childhood in Saint-Malo. Living on an island makes it easy to develop one’s community, identity, and a sense of “us” and “them” - for best and worst.

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Stories and founding principles: how Emerging Islands works

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  • Impact & Storytelling
  • Community Dialogue
  • Curation & Conceptual Design

Indigenous experience knowledge and creativity

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“It’s because of our ancestral lands that we have our distinct right to self-determination, our indigenous cultures and indigenous ways of life and identity."

By WINDEL BOLINGET, BONTOK-KANKANAEYCHAIRPERSON OF THE CORDILLERA PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE

Magwayen & Aman Sinaya

Visayan Goddess of First Water, Sea and Underworld

Magwayen is the first goddess of the sea and water and is the balance of creation against Kaptan, the God of the Sky. As the deity of the ocean, her waters cover the entire world and spill into the other realm, hence she also is the ruler of the underworld. Her waters help guide the souls of the departed to Salud, the Land of Ancestors. While she is nurturing and calming, if angered - her waters turn violent and tempestuous.

She truly is the Goddess of Life and Death, and as such she reminds us to accept that as we go down our paths we all have to experience both, We can't create new experiences without having to let go and bury what no longer serves us.

Human Experience

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It is our life experiences that make us human. Human Experience is an attempt to create a “sacred” place, to share, record, and share physical memories, beyond local cultures.

The first edition was performed at Central Saint Martins Campus in London, UK in 2003.

The following edition was performed in Greece during the 2004 Olympic Games

Decolonizing Ocean Science track at the JOGL Conference

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I co-curated this track at a recent conference. I learned some, want to learn a whole lot more.

Local materials, local people

Red Clay

Instead of using plastic, we could create buoyancy with traditional pottery.

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Long time ago, before plastic, glass was commonly used to make floats. I can blow glass on a cane. If there is a glass blowing studio nearby, I would love to work there

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Bamboo

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Filipino Boat Building

For the band Kayumanggi, Emerging Island artists already had build a playful floating structure!

I imagine the same vibe: improvised structure, starts very loose, and comes together little by little, keeps changing, to become more and more hospitable.

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That’s our son Aster, 5.5 years old. He likes the idea to play on the beach and build an “ocean treehouse” :)

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And that’s Abbie. She can blend in almost anywhere in Southeast Asia 😄

Social Architecture

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Today, conventional architecture constrains social life and reinforce power structures.

Today, social networks expand our social lives and nourish global consciousness.

What if we could build a living architecture from our social network? An architecture that supports our complex social lifes and supports the growth of global consciousness?

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The Mebuyan’s vessel is a place to hold stories. That’s super inspiring. I imagine something similar at sea to hold the stories of the sea…

Climate Change Art “Tropical Climate Forensics”: Derek Tumala

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"Environmentally Speaking" is a unique multi-disciplinary art exhibition that takes on today’s critical conversation about our changing climate.

Human Construction

By WE ARE PI Agency, Amsterdam

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Working a large team, building something together.

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Everyone has in them the instinct of shapes, colours. It’s something that is inside us, latent for most.

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Solar Hydrogen, and oysters

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“Rewilding is not about abandoning civilization but about enhancing it. It is to ‘love not man the less, but Nature more’.”

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We made our first observations of the oysters on the Ocean Imagineer.

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Ocean Imagineer. Floating solar hydrogen pilot plant

Paper Whale: performing nature in the city

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Plastic Sensing Robot with kids

I love working with kids. It starts with play, sketches, collecting random materials… and a lot of dreaming and sharing, role playing stories.

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Plastic Tracking and biomimicry

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With 11 schools building 10 drifters each, we built 110 drifters, and tracked every major river in Hong Kong. In one month, one drifter can reach Taipei. The same piece of trash can drift up to 7 times on different beaches with the tide before it gets “flushed” out of Hong Kong waters.

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Inspired by a student remark that our wax drifters might be eaten by sea life, we re-designed a new larger surface drifter that would resemble the feared “sea nettle”, a very poisonous jellyfish.

Coral Reef Mapping Robot (done in Mindoro island with my students)

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"Scoutbot" is a semi-autonomous boat that is targeted to map shallow coral reefs and monitor marine protected areas. It has both remote control (RC) capacity as well as route planning with GPS waypoints. The first proper CoralBot was named “Mindorobot” and assembled in Mindoro Island with HKU engineering students.

Collaborative Robotics

Renewable Energy-powered robots

STRANDBEEST EVOLUTION 2021

Floating Marine Lab & Imaginary Islands

Designed with Master of Architecture Students from HKU. Built in 2 days, by 8 students.

International Ocean Station Concept

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I created the concept of the International Ocean Station in 2008 as my Master's Degree final project at the Royal College of Art and won the Ars Electronica Golden Nica [NEXT IDEA] leading the collective Open_Sailing. This is a large group project. I have too many people to thank here.

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Simple event workshop layout

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I ran a workshop where people would share their idea of what living floating islands could look like… I provided laser cut simple shapes that could be turned into small architecture models.

Participatory Performance, Involving the body=

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Narrative Structure

Although the topic of “re-education camp” is not related to the story we want to tell, the narrative structure and the flow, visual language may be inspiring for how we present.

Sketches and a storyboard

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The story I imagine (to discuss) is quite simple :

  1. We go to the beach, play with the kids, meet the community. We hope to meet elders and tell them about what we dream to do. Asking for permission and advice.
  2. With the children and the elders, and whoever wants to participate and play, we design small floating models. Think of the raft, as “the treehouse of the sea”, a place of magic, of adventure, of experimentation and learning.
  3. We experiment with the local materials, bamboo, clay pots, ropes, found materials, to improve the design system, so it’s following the children design, and easy to maintain and replace, and low environmental impact
  4. We learn from the local craftsmen and women that work with clay, bamboo, electricians, home and boat builders … We start collecting stories
  5. We build the larger “Floating Marine Lab” the size of a small community space
  6. We use the floating platform to collect stories of the sea, and progressively, we shift the conversation about conserving traditions, ways of living, and protecting the sea
  7. Protecting the sea becomes main focus, and that’s when indigenous knowledge has become the framework inside of which we can start to bring in perhaps more technology, invention with respect, and transparent intent
  8. We keep involving the community and see what they want to do with these newly developed capacities.

The key idea is that western ocean conservation is generally based on science and economic interests. Can this project build an ocean conservation strategy based on the kids imagination, the elders local knowledge, traditions, and beliefs, and from that let emerge a new contemporary indigenous approach to marine conservation?

I need to study more the methodology to do proper indigenous-centered marine conservation.

I want to hear your thoughts, and imagine this all together!

Key Dates

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Sep 16-25, 2022. SIngapore https://sdw.designsingapore.org/

Event TBC Sep 26- Oct 2, Bangkok, Thailand

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Oct 12-22, 2022. Bali, Indonesia https://bali.fabevent.org/#tickets