Resonance, as an auditory phenomenon, increases the amplitude of sounds through external reflection or vibration. In discussion, resonance is a moment of connection established through conversation between peers.
In the first year of the CCCP program, students speak in a two-part colloquium. As we recuperate this dialogue to display the research work of the second year students’ theses, the podcasts highlight a hidden aspect of the works – the process. Our conversations are spontaneous and personal, sharing another relationship between the individual and the work.
The pedagogy of the CCCP program intends to perturb the architectural apparatus. In response, Critical Resonance aims to affect the polished form of a published thesis. These conversations work to amplify aspects of the thesis projects which otherwise might be too soft to hear. We hope they resonate with you.
Tracing the Carceral Experience in America
Advisor: Noah Chasin
The thesis considers the ways in which art and creative expression transgress and redefine different forms of carcerality in America, spanning over time and across space. Zooming in on three distinct carceral moments, this abolitionist project lies both in theory, literary aesthetic, and engaged activism. This body of work is carried out to better comprehend the ways in which the experience of imprisonment can produce meaningful modes of visual storytelling and re-navigate the systems in which incarcerated bodies have been born, bred and produced since the initial traverse of African slaves during the Middle Passage. As Emmanuel Admassu states: “there is no Black liberation without linking the Black Bodies crossing the Mediterranean with the Black Bodies that cross Lennox Avenue- the ones that crossed the Atlantic and the ones that didn’t.”
Dr. Nicole Fleetwood’s “Marking Time” work allowed me to realize that the project’s reach. Drawing inspiration and deep appreciation for the work of Fleetwood and her incredible project helped me to realize what it means to “curate carcerality” in a thoughtful, thought provoking manner.
Her approach to carceral aesthetics underlines much of the thinking in the early stages of establishing the wedging forward project. As she describes: “Even as this art testifies to the stern possibilities of generative constraint, it never let us forget that it wants to abolish the conditions that made its creation an act of survival.”
Finally, the way in which she describes her curatorial as a method of self-reflection and meditation on her own life history, resonates very much with me as an individual who has been directly impacted by incarceration in a myriad of ways.
Beyond the Carceral & Beyond…
The Wedging Forward Project for formerly incarcerated persons seeks to respond to histories of oppression containment placed upon bodies deemed criminal, other or outside. Over the course of an intimate 10-week series of classes, participants have collectively engaged with the medium of clay ceramics to confront legacies of incarceration which defines the American way of life today.
Poetic Justice, Together
Over the course of the Project, poetry became a critical aspect of the narrative framework to confront and engage with “abolition”.
Specifically looking at the way in which explicating the experience of being incarcerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a form of poetic justice that seeks to transform the lives of incarcerated persons into human beings rather than carceral subjects. Poetry demonstrates the power of spoken and written word to find your voice when it has been silenced in so many harsh ways.
Through the active networks developed throughout the project, I connected with The Justice Arts Coalition, and began corresponding with Derrick Grantley, a man serving a life sentence at Florida State prison. This relationship has established an understanding of the way in which this form of expression is fundamental to reshaping how we view the relationship of the prisoner and the prison and to the ‘outside’ world.
Derrick has spent 21years of his time incarcerated in solitary confinement. Adamantly affirming his innocence, he finds solace and authorship in powerful, justice-based poetry.
The Final Connecter
While it represents the first in depth body of work explored in the project, learning about this incredible journey was in many ways the final key to tie all of the themes and histories together. The inspiring biography of David Drake, or, more commonly known as ‘Dave the Potter’, reimagines historical logics of carcerality.
Critical to his making process, was the act of inscription. Art becomes an act of communication and freedom making. Described as a Middle Passage Slave, Dave the Potter’s empowering story demonstrates a vivid history of the ways in which servitude can be into the power of creation, art and freedom-making. It is documented that Dave made over 40,000 pots during his time as an avid potter. His work is on display in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York.
Advisor: Felicity Scott
Documentary Image Drift formulates a documentary image drift theory told from the perspective of the Arab World. Image drift tries to deal with the rapidity with which images are produced in our contemporary world through juxtaposition with earlier forms of documentary practices. The drift displaces the temporal pace and speed through which images and their informational traces move and spread towards predetermined destinations, leaking outside these confines in the process. Drift carries with it a sense of the constitutive relationship between photography and travel, indeed many of the stories I tell are of documentary images that simulate the itineraries and sensations of voyaging. But drifting can be dangerous and destabilizing. Ideas and discourses drift beyond their intended epistemic horizons, producing collusions and coincidences that disrupt boundaries between different forms of knowledge and exchange. The drift is not confined to material photographs and their digital reproductions. Aesthetic codes, cultural values, page layouts, viewing instruments, organizational principles and image interfaces also travel outside of their prescribed spaces and form the infrastructural substrate for other types of perceptible flow. Drift is not just the nature of spatial and temporal circulation of material, it is also my performative way of seeing the syncopated construction and appropriation of the documentary gaze from and about the Arab world.
Nadine is a researcher and writer originally from Amman, Jordan. She previously worked as Programs and Media Office at Studio-X Amman. Her work investigates the social life of photographs of Palestine.
Advisor: Felicity Scott
The thesis Techniques of Restoration, Traces of Resistance addresses the entanglements between mid-20th century techniques of documentation and preservation of ancient cultural artifacts in Central America, and the manner in which these techniques touched down upon two sites: the Mayan murals at Bonampak in Mexico and the Mayan ruins of Zaculeu in Guatemala. The transformations involved in the excavation, reconstruction, and display of these sites were at once distinctly material in nature and caught up in a larger media apparatus serving the operations of the United Fruit Company in the area. To tell this story the thesis traces a range of actors, institutions, forms of expertise and media systems: from photographers, artists, archaeologists and preservationists, through agricultural infrastructures and corporate magazines, to UNESCO training manuals and conservation centers in the region. By attending to the frictions the various mediation processes encountered on the ground, the thesis will argue for an understanding of heritage as an unstable site for contested epistemologies and worldviews.
Total Recall: Retracing the Steps of Romaine Lettuce
Advisor: Anna Puigjaner
What happens when the food we eat breaks?
By focusing on food recalls — the moment where a process meant to seemingly flow endlessly in one direction is suddenly (and voluntarily) tasked to reverse course — this thesis will explore how within such a phenomenon our food transforms: it becomes news, it becomes trash, it becomes corporate risk. Our food becomes the record of overproduction, monopolization, and exploitation. These are more than just media moments, however, as with each recall one is compelled to look in the fridge to see what was recently bought and from where. Has my food suddenly become non-food? Food recalls remind us that we exist at one end of a chain of mass production that is not only prone to fail but is often, in fact, expected to. This thesis will focus on the specific mechanisms surrounding recalls of romaine lettuce. Within a package of romaine lettuce, traces of an entire agri-industrial chain can be excavated. A recall allows us to follow that chain backwards, stopping at each station of production along the way as we search for the culprit of the product’s contamination. At the same time, through its exploration of romaine lettuce, this thesis will act reflexively in an attempt to understand a recall as a methodology in itself. In other words, by referring to the thesis itself as a recall, issues of memory and circularity, for instance, will be evaluated as critical tools of exploration.
Benjamin Goldner is a New-York based artist and writer. His thesis, Total Recall: Retracing the Steps of Romaine Lettuce, explores how recall systems transform our food and become a record of overproduction, monopolization, and exploitation.
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
This thesis considers the complex histories and environments of NASA’s spaceflight program by examining mediatic and material-rich episodes from along the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission. Looking closely at the rocket launch, moon-landing, lunar sample collecting and handling, as well as the splashdown and subsequent anti-contamination architectures of the event, this project offers insight on how NASA has historically, and perhaps continues to, conceive of and design their dialogue around contamination. The moments collected in this publication exhibit how NASA has employed media for the construction of this dialogue, and also how media has served the public in understanding their formulation and deployment of contamination and toxicity. The Toxic Residues of NASA’s Apollo Program further puts forward that the highly spectacularized nature of the Apollo 11 mission, including its theatrics of protecting against possible toxic lunar materials, worked to obfuscate NASA’s own technological residues and toxic agents.
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
The sea is becoming lands. Waters Irresolved, as a research project, has accumulated episodes of the ocean’s terrestrial becoming. Strata of political, mediatic, environmental, and aesthetic implications of the sedimentary logics have rendered the maritime a space of variegated irresolutions.
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson
“How do we create an alternative future by living both the future we want to see, while inhabiting its potential foreclosure at the same time?”
“Listening to Images,” Tina Campt
“While questioning such received notions as the organic unity, autonomy, and purity of the modernist work of art, the Duchampian paradigm—inserting a readymade object within an art context—exposed the legitimizing function of the institution, its crucial role in the definition of what should be considered as art. At the same time, it also revealed its own discursive limitations, since the significance of the readymade was entirely dependent upon the institution as a context.”
“Michael Asher and the Transformation of “Situational Aesthetics,” Claude Gintz
The task at hand for my project was to be less recursive. I’m not interested in the more contemporaneous stagings of Blackness or the banal politics and the “discourse” and performance of what we have come to know as “representation” over the past three decades. My thesis specifically names and deals with challenging the presupposition of what the performance of race (Blackness) should look like conceptually, linguistically, and visually in an institutional context. For my project, I wanted to displace (remove) the body and body the material. I’m trying to deal with the philosophical aesthetics of architecture which permeate and manifest in the form of language, in visual material, the archive, documents, and performance and better understand our relationship to it. I wanted to think through the production of knowledge and the varying infrastructures that further produce and recontextualize the possibilities and beingness of a person. Architecture to me isn’t about the past necessarily (and our understanding of it, which we know as History) but is about a commitment to practicing a presence/present and produce scholarship and criticism that’s reflective of our time. Knowledge shouldn’t be exclusively produced in a canon or a specific field, it should be engaged cross-field and culture, and move past occasionally self-permitting itself to look upon a past and engage itself in a staging of the performance of criticality. I wanted to live in and further expand this hypothetical third space that utilizes what I know, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going by melding it into something that can serve as a tool or tunnel to further siphon someone else’s desires, that challenge the legibility of a prescribed selfhood and the performance or enclosure of it. I wanted to search for a freedom and I’m close to finding it.
Cleanroom Architecture: Air and the Microenvironment
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta
This thesis centers contamination control as an overlooked and underdiagnosed element in architecture history to develop the invisible connection between building technologies and the body. This embodied subject is constructed through regimes of indoor air management which find their apex in the architecture of the cleanroom, a controlled environment where microscopic airborne particulates like bacteria, skin cells, and aerosols are filtered out to produce the cleanest space possible. As the fullness of the air drifts into view, techniques for imaging the invisible become critical; epistemic models frame the application of a microenvironmentality, a biopolitical milieu through which operate apparatus of control. The prosaics of filtration standards and best practices which shape the cleanroom conceal these disciplinary technologies which order relations between a simultaneously vulnerable, mutable, and contaminated subject, and a historically contingent, artificial airscape. Cleanroom Architecture, the spatial-material locus for these ordering operations of filtering, ventilating, and regulating, is a distinct type which nevertheless emerges without form. To locate an aesthetics of the Ultra-Clean, this thesis investigates the sprawling media economy of trade literature, generic HVAC systems, tyvek bunnysuits, and scientific visualizations which explicate the microscopic entanglement of air, bodies, and machines.