MICHELLE TSE

She is She

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"        - Lewis Carroll

   In conceiving of a new form of architecture through the language of sleep and dreaming , the conception of ‘Court’ was based heavily on the iterative process of ‘Rabbitholing’. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s dreamy tale of the lose of innocence, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the architect of the project and eventuallyits users are put in the spotlight as the cen- tral character in a constant state of an identity crisis.

   The story of the project can be seen as four separate chapters— “I is I”, “She is She”, “Who is Who” and “What is What’. Each chapter brings the central character further and further down into the rabbit hole, with each chapter of the process condensed and reflected upon. 

She is She - The White Rabbit
   The color white signifies purity and honesty. Alice’s dream begins and ends with the white rabbit, signifying leaving innocence behind and recapturing one’s purity at the end of the journey. The white rabbit initially attracts Alice’s attention because he is a contradiction, a beast and a gentleman: an animal who speaks, who wears a waistcoat and a pocket-watch. In an instant, there is a lose of confidence due to thinking you know one thing is the way it is and appears completely different. The white rabbit sig- nify an invitation to step out of ordinary time. The rabbit is a guide who navigates Alice through Wonderland. He brings her down the hole, to his house, to the court, and was also there at the end of her dream. Alice had been chosen by the white rabbit, inviting her out from our ordinary life to go on an extraordinary journey through his rabbit hole, leading her to an experience which transformed her. He never forces but gently com- pelled her to let to enter into the realm of the real, hidden, intuitive, unconscious world that exists underneath what appears to be reality. As a result, she was taken to places that she never dreamed possible and the passage cost more than she was willing to freely give. The costume that I wore as a spur of the moment decision became a character. The white rabbit in my experiment is personified as the napper. The purity of the even layer of charcoal is disrupted through the digging and restoring of my dirt (charcoal). The experience cost more than expected from the instant, as even just cleaning the clothes and the napping environment each night became part of the ritual. The cleansing of the white rabbit costume, I came to realize, became a ritual of forgetting, or stepping out of this dream world after the completion of one cycle of the routine.

She is She - Rabbit Holing
   In falling through the rabbit hole, this portal brings Alice out of her reality and into a dream world, where sequences of events and the conventions of reality are constantly challenged and changing. While in Wonderland, Alice encounters a series of puzzles with no clear solutions, and situations that take place with no clear sequencing or logic. This is how most dreams occur- a discontinuous series of events. Rabbit-holing imply ‘jumping in feet first’ without looking or thinking. An instant re- action, or even a misstep. Alice decides to follow the rabbit, and she catches up with it “just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.” If we’re to accept the rabbit as a metaphor for a new idea, concept, or oppor- tunity, it should be obvious that “chasing the rabbit/ down the ‘rabbit-hole’ represents following through with any new experience that has been presented, solely for the ex- citement of discovery and adventure. Even though Alice isn’t sure where ‘chasing’ this rabbit will lead, she’s enthralled enough in its originality to pursue it without question. Most people relate to the notion when we’re presented with an adventure or new route to explore, we’re all ‘chasing’ that idea down a rabbit-hole, so to speak. Rabbit-holing became a way to create a record of my motions during a dream state. By excavating and restoring, the charcoal powder condenses the movements of my dreams within a measured duration into one portal. There is a procedure, however no one person is able to witness the complete experience in a sequential pattern. In trying to keep a strict routine ritual night after night, and especially after napping in a dark room for 30 minutes, the sequence of events of the procedure inevitably gets scram- bled. The memory of the dream also begins to alter after trying to preserve the record as precisely as possible within a manageable system.

She is She - The Hole
   Within this context, the hole implies a portal to another time and place. In the book, once passing through the hole, Wonderland challenges Alice’s perceptions of good manners by constantly assaulting her with dismissive rudeness. Alice’s fundamental beliefs face challenges at every turn, and as a result Alice suffers an identity crisis. She persists in her way of life as she perceives her sense of order collapsing all around her. Alice must choose between retaining her notions of order and assimilating into Won- derland’s nonsensical rules. The holes that I am creating express a forensic record into my dreams. However, because it is a fleeting record. Each time the dreamer tries to re-access the memory, it is inescapably altered and faded. My initial desire was to be able to share my dreams as accurately as possible but echoing Alice’s challenge, I realized I had to adhere to the desires of the chosen methods. Once the rabbit hole is collected for archive, the char- coal unavoidably shifts, falls, or transfers to another surface.

Spring 2014
Mentor: Michelle Fornabai