#small interactions

Fisherman on Chew Jetties.

This project was undertaken as part of an elective subject in the final year of the Bachelor of Architectural Design degree at The University of Queensland (UQ). The course was condensed into a two week trip across Singapore and Malaysia with the main research component taking place in the UNESCO listed city of George Town, Penang, Malaysia. The course focussed around the idea of place making exploring the tangible, intangible and sub-tangible influences on a place.

Travelling through Singapore and Malaysia I was interested in people’s connection to objects. The apparent juxtaposition between the sentimentality as a foreigner and the banality as a native. In Penang we visited Mr Tan Yeow Wooi, a conservation architect. Mr Tan showed a movie he had made about a family having to move from their house due to the removal of rent control after the heritage listing of George Town by UNESCO making rent prices skyrocket to approximately 500% the original rental prices. In the film the family is clearly distressed, unsure about their future and a sadness to leave their family home. The film exemplified our connection to the objects and spaces we inhabit and the memories they can evoke.

Travelling through Singapore and Malaysia I was interested in people’s connection to objects. The apparent juxtaposition between the sentimentality as a foreigner and the banality as a native. In Penang we visited Mr Tan Yeow Wooi, a conservation architect. Mr Tan showed a movie he had made about a family having to move from their house due to the removal of rent control after the heritage listing of George Town by UNESCO making rent prices skyrocket to approximately 500% the original rental prices. In the film the family is clearly distressed, unsure about their future and a sadness to leave their family home. The film exemplified our connection to the objects and spaces we inhabit and the memories they can evoke.

This interest formed conversations, documenting each individual and their object that sparked the conversation and their association with it. This formed a framework that drove the project resulting in the observational research project, Small Interactions.

As a visitor we seek something different. We see something foreign and we associate meaning - a meaning vastly different from that we would assume at home. We associate our own message to the objects we buy, the people we see and places we visit. We infer from our own thoughts and ideas about a place and culture to create an impression of a place. However, without listening we ignore the people and their stories. The story of the fisherman who did not catch anything on the Jetty that day. The story of the Joss Stick maker’s son who feels a responsibility to care for his ageing father. The story of the lady taking shelter in the shade who makes a joke to her friend after I take her photo. These small interactions weren’t planned or forced - they just happened.

The interaction of people’s stories, culture and ideologies are key for a place to thrive.

This project explores my interactions through the stories people have using their objects as a basis for conversation. It acknowledges the constraint of time and place.

calendar collage
chew jetty fishing