The Archive of Humanity
A journey of thought through space - I might recap the essence of my work as a scenographer in a sentence. It's more an exploration rather than a design.
Why? Because the nature of human-made space is the structured form of humanity. So every space we live in has a shape that conforms to our purpose of 'surviving' on this planet.
The entire landscape we have created over our history is a set of abstract human thoughts translated into a physical structure. When carefully observed, their details tell us what precisely a human being is. In this sense, all the space around us is a vast archive of humanity. It is the largest and only archive in this universe that mirrors us in such a comprehensive manner. And this grows as we are born, think, move, and die within it.
I define scenes as various, real situations during humankind's survival in this universe. This bodily presence before our eyes is where our mind meets with this physical circumstance. In other words: Scenes are the least common denominators between humans and space, which are the clues to explore throughout the endless archive, where the diversity of human thinking has been recorded on this tiny planet - which might be the only place in the vast universe where intelligent forms of life thrive.
As we all know human society is unpredictable, artists should voice the dynamic thinking that emerges from non-linear processes. Inefficient detours, contingencies, and emotional waves influence the ship's course that carries us. In this surprisingly unforeseeable, highly complicated world, linear thinking only sometimes gives helpful advice for sustainable survival with meaningful development of the human spirit.
Like all other artists, the mission of scenographers is to contribute to preventing the regression of humanity and the consequent destruction of the human race using the most potent, ubiquitous medium called space.
Space is a program for human survival. The vast archive that stretches out before us is our last habitat.
In the summer of 2018, the streets of Hanoi were smoky with high humidity and dust. I was sketching a building at the entrance of the road where the daily market is located. I put watercolors on the paper, which was already soggy from the humidity and sweat dripping from my hands. In the bustle of the chaotic capital, I realized that the defused light in the dust and exhaust gas, stealing shadows from everything, dominates this area even more than this architecture. The architecture stands somewhat languidly in this environment.
Light and architecture are not lonely players in the whole sight in front of me. The style of the architecture - the Chinese-style roof proudly on top of the building, the green window frames in the yellow walls reminding me of Mediterrane architecture - speaks of former colonial rule in this country. The advertising signs and LED-neon lights reflect the destructive swell of the consumer economy in Vietnam, a communist nation. The exhaust fumes from the countless motorcycles passing by on the street. The bustle, the poverty. The smell of sweat. These parameters, facts, and life don't count in an architectural observation - they are not visible in my sketchbook. Nevertheless, they dominate the space surrounding us overwhelmingly. And these are, I believe, the essence of my job. I am a scenographer.
The stage is a social space, precisely like our surrounding habitat. It is a place where we discuss issues shared by our society. Scenography designs the space necessary for this purpose. In this way, abstract thought emerges as a structure that can be spatially accessed. There, the audience encounters a variety of others, their thoughts and feelings, and their bodies. We are never alone in our existence, in our society. In scenography, architecture becomes part of the structure of the entire space. Air, light, sound, time, and our body become one structure to construct the space.