This ongoing research project is inspired by Amar Kanwar’s The Sovereign Forest. Referencing Kanwar’s artistic approach, The Haze: An Inquiry brought together people from different disciplines in a focus group that takes the haze situation in Southeast Asia as the main topic for investigation.
How do we bridge the gap from the banal to the sensual, the tactical and visceral? What steps of inquiry leads us from the scientific to the notion of immediacy? How do we define abstract terms such as “crime” – Is the haze a crime? What is a crime against society? Different perspectives are offered in this process by participants from diverse backgrounds, including a research scientist, theatre director, community leader, writer, tech consultant, co-founder of a hackerspace, activist, designer and curator, geographer, architect, and postgraduate student.
A core group of specialists from varied fields of law, natural and social sciences, literature, art and architecture, media and theatre, is brought together in a series of workshops and discussions to explore the haze situation as an environmental, human, and legal challenge, given its transnational impact. The aim is to create a collection of “evidence” and to investigate the potential of the haze to be considered a “crime”. This collecting which include factual information and data, compilation of ancestral knowledge, media clippings, commentaries, unrecorded oral knowledge, as well as writings, photographs, and films will be gathered in the space amidst working notes of the core group. Using these “evidences”, participants will uncover social and environmental impacts beyond the haze, and deliberate on questions of social justice, corporate environmental responsibilities, agronomy cultures in industrial developments, amongst others. Each participant brings to the discussion individual responses that stem from their respective interests and disciplines. This research platform aims to assemble a diversity of viewpoints to provoke alternative ways of looking at and talking with a wider public about contemporary situations of urgency.
In addition to the series of closed and public workshops, discussions, and presentations participants in the core group is engaged in, they are also encouraged to invite guests who will make further inquiries into the “evidences” in The Lab and to look into collaborative working methods of shared agency.
The Lab at NTU CCA Singapore is a platform for introducing transdisciplinary research processes involving artistic and curatorial practice as shared knowledge production, in its various formats, different temporalities and modalities of expression.
Image credit: Central Kalimantan, December 2015. Courtesy of Theresa Wong.