An Archeology of Diving

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Maintaining old traditions alive is not always nostalgia. In some cases, it stems from a desire to look to ancient wisdom in order to unearth ways to build a better future. 

Holding their breath for one minute, during one hour, twice a day, Japanese ama divers still follow the most primitive and characteristic form of foraging the sea. In existence for more than three thousand years and documented in third-century Chinese poetry, they harvest the ocean floor by gathering abalones, turban snails, sea urchins, lobsters, and seaweed, contributing to a balanced ecology and economy of the coastline. Forming a special community in villages where they come together to auction their harvest at the fish market, they repeat each day a series of actions that promote much respect for the natural resources and the various objects they use.

The Archaeology of Diving was recorded around Toba, in the Bay of Ise in central Japan, in August 2018. The film portrays the timeline of the unique way of life and the free-diving practice of a small group of divers from multiple generations. It begins as they come together in the amagoya, a simple hut located on the seashore, where they warm up, repair and store their diving gear, and share food and stories. Together, they dive, whistling as they exhale upon surfacing in order to protect their lungs and to gauge their distance from one another. Specific sets of regulations monitor diving time and the size and type of seafood that is allowed to be harvested according to the season, ensuring the protection of fishery culture.

MAP Office
MAP Office is a multidisciplinary platform devised by Laurent Gutierrez, from Morocco, and Valérie Portefaix, from France. This duo of artists/architects has been based in Hong Kong since 1996, working on physical and imaginary territories using varied means of expression, including drawing, photography, video, installations, performance, and literary and theoretical texts. Their entire project forms a critique of spatio-temporal anomalies and documents how human beings subvert and appropriate space. In recent years, a specific focus on islands and other liquid territories has been developed as a subject/object of studies. Through these investigations and after more than a decade of exploring globalization and urbanization effects in Hong Kong and China, the practice is now investigating a new geography of archipelagos that characterize the transient and globalized environment of the Anthropocene age. To date, they have participated over forty international biennial and triennial expositions.

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Age of Entanglement

This text was originally published in the first issue of the Journal of Design and Science on…

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Reparations by Design

In an attempt to fix a troubled world, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Dr. Haber, an…

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