Launched in 2021, the first series of the Tentacle Project attempted to rediscover urban public spaces through diverse mediums such as urban performance activities, theaters, and music. It explored the nuanced and blurred boundaries between the public and the private. The second series, continuing in this vein, shifts its focus from the outdoor to the indoor. This year, we invite Dunes Workshop, a creative and research group with a background in architecture, as the organizer. They re-examine one of the most fundamental archetypes of architecture – the “domestic space” – through six cases. This series serves as a reminder of a seemingly obvious but frequently overlooked fact: in our contemporary society, private spaces have become filled with material and emotional consumption that the inhabitants must make a conscious effort to reinstate the original sheltering and restoring functions of these domestic spaces.
Home can be a starting point when investigating the relationship between people and space. On one hand, it is an abstract symbol, a way of being in the world, a shelter from the wind and rain, a place for rest and nurture, and an entity in which the human psyche and spirit are influenced and projected. On the other hand, homes are tangible spaces and mundane objects required by our daily activities, from what we eat and wear to how we live and travel. Focusing on China and our current realities, the concept of “home” would also encompass numerous social and societal topics. The rapid development of the Internet has radically transformed our work dynamics. New ways of working such as working from home, teleconferencing, and 24-hour online work ethics have largely penetrated the idyllic concept of home, the private space to which one returns after work. The blurring boundaries between the public and private lives also add to people’s self-exploitation or continuous mental exhaustion during off hours. The global economic downturn has exacerbated the “more pain less gain” phenomenon across all industries. Individuals feel increasingly powerless in this larger context and choose to live in a “Tang Ping” (lying flat) manner, resulting in a burnout and low-desire population. This phenomenon is, in fact, not unique to China, but prevalent in almost all post-capitalist countries. Besides, as discussions surrounding feminism, labor rights, and mental health gain traction on public media platforms, the previously overlooked or undervalued household labor, such as chores and emotional support to the family, have now received more attention.
In response to these pressing conditions, we need to re-examine the relationship between people and space. When public health emergencies begin to affect the freedom of numerous ordinary individuals and when it gets increasingly difficult to “poetically dwell,” everyday life at home becomes the only possible battleground for people to defy against the framework of capitalism and consumerism. Every object and activity inside each house are both mundane and extraordinary. By carefully surveying our daily meals, rests, and conversations, we are also scrutinizing the conditions of our own lives.
Henri Lefebvre's analysis of the historical realities of his time nearly half a century ago is still valid today, “Everyday life is profoundly related to all activities, and encompasses them with all their differences and their conflicts; it is their meeting place, their bond, their common ground. And it is in everyday life that the sum total of relations which make the human – and every human being – a whole takes its shape and its form.” By reprogramming everyday life, people can detach themselves from the trivial, grasp that “moment of alienation,” and introduce their own creativity and philosophical thinking. One of the most effective ways to do this may be to “make everyday life into a work of art.”
The Tentacle Project is presented in the windowed corridor in UCCA Edge. Using post-processed 3D scan data, Dunes Workshop created 1:1 architectural sectional perspective representations that brought six different domestic interiors into the exhibition space. These abstract imageries depict selected areas within individual homes where the inhabitants feel most “worn down.” It could be the desk where someone works late at night, the couch where arguments with loved ones take place, the chair where one watches reels on their phone, or the countertop where food is made, ... All these implicit and explicit consumptions and depletions are fragments taken from the perpetual everyday life. Through the manipulations of images, the mundane is defamiliarized and displayed in the gallery space to be scrutinized and discussed. Here, consumption is directly addressed, as well as its close associations with everyday life and individual rights. Only when consumption is recognized can restoration be possible.
According to Gaston Bachelard, the term “immensity” refers to dreams, subjectivity, and even happiness, “Immensity is within ourselves. It is attached to a sort of expansion of being that life curbs and caution arrests, but which starts again when we are alone. " In this project, Dunes Workshop intends to reveal the “immensity” of individual life experiences in the “intimacy” of the house. “The Tentacle Project: Intimate Immensity” consists of a mini-exhibition and a series of public events. It is curated by the Senior Curator of Public Practice at UCCA Edge, Qian Mengni.
About Tentacle Project
“Tentacle Project” is an experimental art program built upon the Windowed Corridor on the fourth floor of UCCA Edge. This narrow, semi-wrapped-around corridor space connects between the indoor and outdoor galleries while emphasizing the view of the city on the other side of the glass wall. The project seeks to utilize display in the irregular space of the art museum and to organize a series of public programs connecting across disciplines such as theater, music, and architecture and opening up discussions on issues shared by the public.
About the Organizer
Dunes Workshop is an artist and researcher collective founded in 2019 by alumni of Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their body of work explores the disciplinary boundary of architecture, investigating how people shape spaces and how spaces, in turn, construct people’s lives.
Dunes Workshop regularly publishes original research content on Chinese social media platforms and has amassed over 50,000 subscribers and 100+ original articles. Their essays and interviews have appeared in various magazines such as “Duku,” “Yi Magazine,” “Time + Architecture,” “Urban China,” “The Architect,” and “Tangent Essay.” They have also written and edited two art books that have participated in the abC (Art Book in China) Art Book Fair and the Rehearsal Book Fair in New York. The collective has participated in various events as speakers and panelists at TEDx, WeChat 10th Anniversary, UCCA Edge, Shanghai Chronus Art Center, and Aiiiii Art Center, etc. Their works have been exhibited at Ars Electronica, PSA Emerging Curators Project, Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale, Venice Architecture Film Festival, and Architecture and Media Biennale.
Co-founder of Dunes Workshop, Master of Architecture II (Harvard GSD). She is an artist and architect living and working in New York. She is currently a faculty at Kean University. Her works focus on the instability of individual identity in contemporary life, exploring how the dynamic relationship between architecture and memory shapes identity.
Co-founder of Dunes Workshop, Master of Science in Urbanism (MIT). He is a writer and designer currently living and working in New York. His research focuses on the public realm in urban and digital contexts and how spatial components condition human behaviors and interactions.
Creator of Dunes Workshop, Master of Architecture (MIT). Trained as an architect, she is now a designer and architecture filmmaker. She is dedicated to creating experimental and extraordinary architectural narratives from everyday life.