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Forming Cityscapes: Small Interventions & Appropriations in the City
Introductory excerpt for an upcoming book chapter. Originally delivered as a presentation at Hard State Soft City: The Urban Imaginative Field in Singapore, a symposium of Asian Research Institute (ARI) National University of Singapore (NUS) and NUS Museum, 2019.
This chapter is an exegetic writing that examines and reflects on Forming Cityscapes, a photographic documentation project from our artistic and design practice that observes everyday life in the urban environment. The physical outcomes of this project are an ongoing series of photographic booklets (six at the point of writing), each containing selected images from a pool of photographs we have been collecting since 2014. Although many of them capture the minuscule and seemingly mundane, they reveal a potentially overlooked aspect of the city that could be described as creative interventions and appropriations of its everyday inhabitants.
We reflect on both the project and its outcomes, in particular, the (1) methods and processes (of gathering, organising, and presenting photographs) adopted throughout the project and (2) the themes surrounding Singapore's urban environment revealed through the outcomes. In doing so, we briefly examine the project's growing relationship to areas of visual research, the city, photography, and how these interrelationships—in practice—might alter or affect our understanding of the city on the project's own terms. More specifically, we consider how the ambiguous processes and arguably artistic nature inherent to Forming Cityscapes is key to the project's relevance within existing studies and projects about the city, particularly in contrast to other forms of visual research in the social sciences, parallel to how the photographed subjects brought into discussion might also question larger administered city structures.