Selected Project for the Hong Kong & Shenzen Bi-City Biennale of Architecture & Urbanism: www.dreamgrove.org |
1. The dreamgrove project, ongoing since 2008, has consisted in the tending and constant design of a multilayered garden/ interface: a compound of different kinds and orders of space (botanical and digital, physical and virtual, linear and topographic, planted and drawn, settled and incomplete), all fed by global participation and networked upon a common core: a database of dreams.
Dreamgrove has been a work in progress. Different versions of the garden/ interface were assembled and disassembled, proposed and archived, drawn and restructured, in museums, biennials, online, on the iPhone or on paper. Each version investigated common organizational structures of information, narrative, growth and landscape, and variations on a previous design. For each realized version there were at least two unrealized ones – project proposals that, in their majority, remained on paper.
Dreamgrove’s passage through the HKSZ Biennale consisted in two interactive garden installation proposals that were not realized due to financial constraints; and in the launching of an iPhone app that was downloaded by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, mostly in Europe, America and Oceania. Dreamgrove’s local presence and traffic in Hong Kong and China was minimal; yet, counter-intuitively, free global participation in the project was extensive.
2. The launched part of the project was thus entirely disconnected and arguably irrelevant to the site of West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade. The unrealized part of the project was uniquely site-specific. This virtual site-specificity may soon become a new feature of the dreamgrove.org website, making its re-launchings more place-based. The ghost structure of West Kowloon will enter the database. It will interface as an inhabitable diagram, acutely artificial, dense, instantly perceptible and navigable; an exercise of memory and imagination; fed by human movement and text deposits; growing and fructifying for aesthetic purposes only; non-consummate and non-consumable; space transformed to data. In other words, a garden.
3. The dreamgrove project will soon fill up its dream-narration quota. At that point it can expand, or it can close down. It has already succeeded in its first premise: to create, out of texts, a new kind of public space. It has yet to realize its second premise: the recombination the digital and the botanical. This would input transformational plant growth and fructification data into the database and output transformative information onto growing and fructifying plants. The ensuing digital-botanical space would probably produce a new type of local weather: data returned as gravity and inertia onto a hybrid sound-and land-scape.
The realization of this second premise into new interactive gardens and the virtual expansion of the project require funding or research space-time. The past 2 years of dreamgrove have definitely proved that neither would be wasted: websites being, today, our future gardens.
Excerpts of this text published in: “INSTANT CULTURE: architecture and urbanism as a collective process,” eds. E.Schuldenfrei, M.Yiu. (Hong Kong: MCM Creations 2012), 267.