During the pandemic, I returned to Shanghai and, by chance, started an internship at an architecture studio purely out of curiosity.  With no prior experience, it felt like I stepped into a completely new world. During that time, I measured spaces for the first time, built models, drew  construction plans, and visited construction sites, learning how spaces transform from digital models to the physical world.  Although it was just scratching the surface, a mix of confusion, understanding, questions, and imagination kept coming up.

在疫情期间我回到上海,出于好奇和一个偶然的契机,进入一家建筑事务所实习。缺乏专业背景的我像是闯进了一片陌生又新鲜的外景地,在兵荒马乱中迎接许多抛来的陌生“腔体”。那段时间,我第一次测量空间、搭建模型、绘图、进入施工现场,了解空间在建模程序 (技术) 和现实世界中的转化过程。即便只是管中窥豹,但困惑、理解、质疑与想象在期间不断浮现。

The production of space (specifically referring to measurement, modeling, design, construction drawings, and implementation) seems like synchronous windows — converting proportions, adjusting materials, layering or simplifying functions, etc. It requires meticulous attention to scale, function, aesthetics, safety, and various considerations, all interrelated. When I realized that I had the 'right' to freely stretch a wall in a real space on a small computer screen, my perception of 'construction' and 'contingency' became even stronger.

Systematic and standardized processes make the realization of concepts more precise and efficient, but it also means that one must maintain a rigorous and meticulous approach during work. For instance, due to my less proficient use of modeling software, I often find myself investing energy in the models searching for broken, redundant, or misplaced lines/blocks (operational errors), leading to a frequent experience of feeling lost. This happens not only in SketchUp and CAD but also in the uncanny, homogenized, and highly disorientating urban landscapes.

空间的‘生产‘(这里具体指: 测量 - 建模 - 设计 - 绘制施工图 - 落地)像是一个个窗口的同步 - 换算比例、选择材质、叠加/删减功能... 在尺度、功能、美学、安全性等诸多考量上需要环环相扣,严丝合缝。当意识到自己拥有在小小的电脑屏幕上自由拉伸出一块现实空间中的墙体的“权利“,我对“建造“和“因地制宜“的感知变得愈发强烈。系统性和标准化让概念落地的过程变得更精准高效,这也意味着工作时需要时刻保持一份疏而不漏的严谨。比如我由于对建模软件的使用还不够娴熟,所以经常发现自己会花费心力在模型中寻找破碎的、多余的或掉队的一根线/一个组块(操作失误),也因此时常有一种“迷向“的体验。不止在sketch up、CAD中,也在怪异的、同质化的、令人困惑的城市地景中迷失方向。

As I wander through the streets, observing these urban spaces, I can't help but wonder: what kind of disorientation is this? how is the surrounding constructed, and how do we navigate ourselves and adapt to it? Michel De Certeau, in his work The Practice of Everyday Life, regards the everyday as a linguistic space. In the chapter on spatial practice, he distinguishes the notion between 'place' and 'space,' arguing that 'space is a practiced place.' Introducing his well-known opposition between 'strategies' and 'tactics,' he suggests viewing everyday life as a struggle between control and resistance under comprehensive surveillance, such as the act of wandering in the city. Wanderers stop, observe, touch, smell, and taste in the urban environment, focusing on countless tiny details, perceiving and sketching their own maps.

当我在街道上游荡,观察这些城市空间时,不禁好奇:这是一种怎样的迷失感?我们的周遭是如何被精心构建的,人们又如何在其中引导自身并琢磨出适应之道?Michel De Certeau在他的著作《日常生活实践》中把城市看作文本空间,在谈到空间的实践 (spatial practice)这一章节时,他区分了场所 (place) 与空间 (space)的概念,提出"空间是实践了的场所 (space is a practiced place)"。同时引入“策略“和“战术“的概念,他建议把日常看作是一个在全面监控之下宰制与抵抗的斗争场,例如在城市中的漫游行为。漫游者在城市中驻足、观看、触摸、嗅闻和品尝,集中于无数微小的细节,感知并绘制着属于自己的认知地图。

This reminds me of a time when paper was not yet widespread, and people used durable parchment for writing. In order to reuse the precious material, they washed away previous ink with a mixture of milk and oat bran, writing repeatedly. However, the ink had already permeated the parchment and couldn't be entirely cleansed or scraped off. Over time, faint traces of the previous text would reappear. After numerous uses, countless layers of text would accumulate, forming a palimpsest. If we consider parchment as urban space, the chorus of footprints is the process of writing, even though reading the spatial text is challenging, and trajectories are continually rewritten. Hundreds of paths and practices entwine in space, weaving into a porous and unidentifiable poem.

这让我想到在纸还没有被普及的时候,人们曾在耐用的羊皮纸上写作,为了能重复利用珍贵的材料,他们用牛奶和燕麦麸皮把之前的墨迹洗去,一遍遍地书写。但墨迹早已浸透纸张,并不能完全清洗刮除。随着时间的流逝,以前文字的微弱痕迹会重新出现。如此这般使用多次后,无数文字层层叠叠,形成重写本 (palimpsest)。如果把羊皮纸看作是城市空间,足迹的合唱便是写作的过程,尽管我们难以阅读空间文本,轨迹已不断被重写。上百种路径与实践在空间中缠绕,织成多孔而无法识别的诗。

Upon returning to London, I incorporated walking into my artistic practice, making it the starting point for exploring both the interiors and exteriors of my new residence, considering the city as an archaeological site. These “portals (site maps)” are documents of visits to diverse places - mostly in London and Shanghai - made from materials I collected there. Merging mass produced, standardized construction drawings (such as indoor furniture, where door heights generally do not exceed 2.4m) with my mental maps - utilizing this layering to reflect upon how my body navigates and interacts with intriguing yet perplexing visual arragements in everyday surroundings (including still images captured with my phone, navigation/walking records, inexplicable symbols and patterns, leftover objects, etc.). During practice, I gradually recognize that each 'force/contingency' shaping a city collectively forms layers of a palimpsest, and the process of bricolage firmly anchors me in this disorienting world.

回到伦敦后,我开始将行走纳入艺术实践,并以此为起点,探索我新居所的内外,并把城市视为一个考古现场。将大规模生产、标准化的建筑图纸(比如室内家具,门的高度通常不超过2.4米)作为背景图层,叠加绘制自己的心理地图 - 利用这种叠加方式来反观我的身体如何在日常环境中引导并与有趣却令人困惑的视觉布局互动(路上用手机拍摄的定格画面、导航/行走记录、意味不明的符号和纹路等)。在这过程中,我逐渐认识到塑造城市的每股“力”也在塑形着重写本,而拼凑它们的过程牢牢地将我扎根。