website statistics





Support Us











Reconnecting together, building together

May 13, 2024 Winter 2024

Relational Reconstructions: Creative Reconnection and Immersive Counter-Archival Practices was a 10-week class taught in Winter 2024 taught by Jeffrey Yoo Warren with assistant teacher Dri Chiu Tattersfield (me!). We experimented with creative means of reconnecting with ancestral and family histories, using institutional, familial, and personal archives as a starting point. As we wove historical glimpses into the physical and virtual spaces of our daily lives, with zines, VR, and more, each navigating our own gaps in knowledge, we asked: how do we build relationships with our pasts?

Our class photo, a Zoom screenshot in gallery view of 16 smiling faces.

One of the answers we found over and over: slowing down.

I am not going to write this blog post in order, because first I want to tell you about how we listened in week 5.

Zoom recently launched an audio setting called “Original sound for musicians'' for remote recording sessions that removes its standard background noise cancellation. During our class about evoking non-visual senses, we invited students to turn on this setting if they felt comfortable sharing their background noise. I went first. It was 11pm in Taipei for me and I live above a noisy bar, so the sounds of people laughing, glasses clinking, and scooter engines revving traveled to 16 other people through my microphone. Slowly, other sounds joined: a neighbor shoveling sidewalk snow. A roommate cooking. Freeway traffic. A stream (!). Birds singing to each other (!!), for whom I held my breath to hear as clearly as possible. We listened for much longer than planned, in deep focus. The pace of our class changed afterwards, slower, easier.

If you want to try it too, here are the settings:

A screenshot of Zoom’s settings on the Audio tab. Under “Audio Profile,” “Original sound for musicians” is checked, and under that, “High-fidelity music mode” is checked.

This moment of deep listening helped us process many of the learnings from previous weeks into our bodies. “yes. still. movement.” by Marya McQuirter, asks the question of how to look at a photograph with no known historical data - specifically, a tintype of two Black bicyclists circa 1893. The answer is slowly, repeatedly, speculatively. Carefully noticing: “Even the pedals are in unison—outside pedal up and inside pedal down.” And carefully imagining: “What did the duo do while they waited? Did they pace within the studio or outside? Attempt to sneak a glance while the photographer worked? Or did they talk about which tintype frame they liked best?”

A black-and-white tintype image of two Black bicyclists and their bicycles, labeled “Bicycling photograph co-producers, ca. 1893” from “yes. still. movement.” by Marya McQuirter.

Week 4, artist-educator Aisha Jandosova visited our class and spoke about her practice of “re-existencia,” trying to recreate daily, craft, sensory, aesthetic practices of our ancestors as a way to spend time with them, and letting knowledge surface by being in their world. She shared her daily practice of recreating elements of Kazakh carpets, and led the class in an activity where we copied an ancestral pattern with pen and paper, and then practiced drawing it again from memory. Remembering and healing are intertwined; Jandosova reminds us that member can mean part of a body, so to remember is to bring back into your body.

From Aisha Jandosova’s class visit. A black-and-white photograph of a Kazakh woman holding up an intricately patterned carpet, next to a color photograph of artist Aisha Jandosova holding up a pattern recreated from the carpet on yellow paper.

This is an idea that we returned to many times throughout class: that regardless of language barriers and other gaps, relearning and practicing crafts and skills our ancestors engaged in is a form of embodied knowledge and a channel for connection.

Our syllabus found its way into a cyclical rhythm as well. In Week 3, we made memory enclaves, 3D collages reconstructing a virtual space from family photos. We returned to the enclaves in Week 6, creating 360-degree photospheres that could be viewed on a smartphone or in VR. Our goal was to explore the idea of placing hidden portals: what would it mean to paste a QR code leading to this photosphere somewhere in the physical world? Who would we want to come across these portals? What if the physical location of the original photo is inaccessible or hostile? These questions can’t be fully answered, but we did make rice glue for pasting the QR codes together: putting care into the membrane between our portals and the physical world.

A memory enclave by Anisha Grover. Several photographs stitched together, skewed, with gaps between them. On the left is a sepia image of a street in Lahore from the early 1900s. The next image is a black and white photograph of an elderly Indian man and lady, seated in a garden in Agra on a lawn with a few trees and shrubs. He is wearing a white shirt and dark trousers, she is wearing a light sari and dark blouse. A colour photo of an old Bunyan tree is spliced into the left of this photograph. To the right are contemporary colour photographs of an okra plant, a neem tree, and an image of a street in present day Agra close with trees and a mosque. A photograph of a blue sky with clouds juts out at the top, and a green lawn juts out at the viewer at the bottom of the image.

We returned to the enclaves again for our final project, a collective zine stitching all of our memory enclaves together, that folds down to fit into one’s pocket, and folds out into a journey or neighborhood. We made decisions about format, audience, and boundaries collectively. Print copies are only for members of the class and the communities they’d like to share them with. A modified public online version will come in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Final project by Randa Hadi. Encapsulated here is a memory of a place that no longer exists, but is deeply embedded into my consciousness. An assortment of archival images where my grandmothers are seated side by side, with paintings and frames adorning the walls. Remnants of my identity and culture all wrapped into my home; Persian rugs and a mubkhar for the sweet, deep, and smoky scent that I can (re)call in an instant. My grandmothers handwriting sits in the background; Arabic is their language.Final project by Lilyanne Pham. daytime photo collage of two Vietnamese sisters from the late 90s to early 2000's in a trailer park and a country road with an open field. photos edited with a night time filter with an overlay of moving fireflies. the following poem is included: i grew up too fast in a town that i've been trying to run away from since i could remember but the second i forget the town that made me grow up too fast i remember the / fireflies / and the open back country roads where i would drive endlessly at night where the fireflies were brighter than the moonlight / now im in a town where i am slowly forgetting what fireflies look like where i meet people who have never seen a firefly / and i think to myself / if they ever saw a field of fireflies with the sound of cicadas filling their ears / they would call the place home / and / stayFrom our prototyping process, photos of a large piece of paper cut and folded into one connected path with several foldout diorama windows.The poem A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson, a grounding inspiration for our final project.