Radical Ethnographies

This is an Archive of a Past Event

The Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University presents Radical Ethnographies, on view in the Coulter Art Gallery from May 16 through June 12, with a reception on Thursday, May 19 from 5 – 7pm. This group exhibition features the thesis artwork of six students in The Stanford Graduate Design Program – MFA Design candidates Dickson Chow, Will Meadows, Kanhika Nikam, and Carey Smith, and MS Design candidates Takuo Fukuda and Doruk Gurel.

These students’ projects were developed over the course of the last year through a two-quarter seminar led by guest instructor, Ted Purves, Chair of the MA in Social Practice and Public Forms at California College of the Arts. The class was framed around intensive investigations into theories of the social and public sphere, discussions of the contemporary social imaginaries that we inhabit, as well as the consideration of globalization itself as a context for understanding public space. Their work explores models for an expansion of contemporary life, and explores visions for the possible social futures we might be heading towards.

  • Dickson Chow showcases a plant-machine interface that enables visitors of the gallery to have a conversation with the plant, which is kept alive in a closed-loop hydroponics system. The project also contemplates a dystopian future wherein such inter-species encounters are rare and precious.
  • Takuo Fukuda creates a sandbox as a playground for physical and narrative play, which also functions as a model for embodied encounter between users.
  • Doruk Gurel cooks and serves several meals at a custom built yatai-like (Japanese food cart) structure at the gallery that can seat 8-10 guests. Gurel will also display this kitchen/dining table hybrid as an artifact of Group Eating, a process that seeks to generate social forms for strangers and neighbors to enter into convivial spaces.
  • Will Meadows presents a short-film ethnography of three ‘winter wise’ individuals – a dog musher, a polar geologist, and an arctic paddler - who reveal and discuss the preparation for winter, externally and internally, at the same time that the planet might be preparing for an epoch when such seasons no longer occur.
  • Kanhika Nikam’s project is a multi channel video installation documenting experimentations she conducts with strangers on the street. Nikam’s goal is to provide these strangers with the space and time to think or revisit thoughts that are often overlooked because of their busy lives. The resulting portraits are both intimate and thought-provoking.
  • Carey Smith’s custom-built wall-mounted printer makes abstract drawings based on a stream of metadata received from emails sent to it by participants within the gallery and outside in the world at large. It conceptually explores the hidden data-flows that surround us and makes them visible at an unexpected scale.