• Ripple Ripple Rippling
    Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, Mengfan Wang & Chen Zhan

Shigushan village, Wuhan, China, 2021. Film still from “Prologue to Ripple Ripple Rippling,” codirected by Jingru (Cyan) Cheng and Chen Zhan, with cinematographer Yizhuo Gao. Courtesy the filmmakers

The project thinks with situated knowledge rooted in precarity. For China’s 285-million floating population, the dissolution of their families is a survival tactic that fundamentally challenges the nuclear family model. What has emerged is an intergenerational, interdependent way of living—that is, a ripple effect of domesticity. In short, “floating,” “dissolving,” and “rippling” are ways in which these families form indeterminate and resilient assemblages at the edge of capitalist apparatus—both within and outside. The knowledge embedded in these practices is largely non-discursive and bodily—in other words, in the form of disposition. The project seeks to devise a transdisciplinary framework—at the intersection of architecture, anthropology, performance, and filmmaking—concerning the articulation of such knowledge and how to make it perceived and felt. This work proposes an experimental, collaborative filmmaking process to work with villagers in Shigushan, Wuhan, and facilitate locals becoming active agents of cocreation.

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng is a transdisciplinary design researcher. At the intersection of architecture, anthropology, performance, and filmmaking, Cheng’s collaborative work is committed to generating new sensibilities and imaginaries. She received commendations by the RIBA President’s Awards for Research in 2018 and 2020 from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Her work has been exhibited at Driving the Human: 21 Visions for Eco-social Renewal (2021), Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics (2020–22), Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (2019), Venice Architecture Biennale (2018), and Beijing Design Week (2016 and 2015), and included in the Architectural Association’s permanent collection. Cheng holds a PhD by Designfrom the Architectural Association (AA), and was the codirector of the AA Wuhan Visiting School (2015–17). Cheng coleads an architectural design studio (ADS7) at the Royal College of Art in London, exploring politics of the atmosphere.

Mengfan Wang is an independent theater director and choreographer, with training in the history of art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and dance studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Cologne. Seeking to explore performative expressions of ordinary people, her dance theater practice engages middle-aged women and children through a collaborative rework of daily acts and recently focuses on ageing bodies by working with retired ballet dancers. Wang is selected as “Dance Hopeful (Hoffnungsträger)” by German dance magazine tanz in its yearbook 2018. Her dance works have been invited to VIE Festival Bologna, Beijing Fringe Festival, Wuzhen Theater Festival, among others, with support from Ibsen International, Goethe-Insitut China, Department for Culture and Education of the German Consulate General. Her artist residencies span across Shanghai, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Zurich, including working with Theater HORA supported by the Swiss Arts Council.

Chen Zhan is an architect, anthropologist, and independent filmmaker. Holding a master’s in anthropology from SOAS University of London, Zhan’s research develops a critical analysis of future-making at the intersection between design, material culture, and consumerism. Situated in the approach of visual anthropology, Zhan’s film practice focuses on the sociopolitical struggles of the marginalized through the lens of the everyday. Her short documentary, Ahmad, tells the story of a Lebanese asylum seeker who rebuilds his life through cooking and food-sharing. The film premiered at the London International Documentary Festival (2019). As an ARB/RIBA charted architect trained at the Architectural Association in London, Zhan worked at Heatherwick Studio on projects across scales and sectors. She dedicated three years to the realization of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Leeds, which received multiple awards in honor of its architectural design.