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ADS7: Something in the Air – Politics of the Atmosphere

Claudia Walton

Claudia is a second-year student at the Royal College of Art, having completed her undergraduate at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Claudia’s research and design work for ADS7, led by Elise Hunchuck and Marco Ferrari and Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, will be featured in Sky River, a digital and physical installation that is part of Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel with Martin Guinard and Bettina Korintenberg, that will be displayed until February 28, 2021.

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Degree Details

School of Architecture

ADS7: Something in the Air – Politics of the Atmosphere

In 2020, Claudia currently lives in London. Her thesis project examines the appropriation and exploitation of the Tibetan Plateau through the Beijing-Lhasa railroad, which trades on the image of Tibet as idyllically pure, to market tourism and expand industry in the region. Her thesis analyses images and narratives that depict Tibet as an idealised landscape of pure blue skies and relates them to the increase in melting ice, polluted rivers and thawing permafrost on the plateau. This environmental degradation is a consequence of profiting from ‘purity’. 

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Cautionary Colours of a Vulnerable Ecology — Set out from the point of view of a passenger travelling from Beijing to Tibet by rail, Cautionary Colours examines the exploitation and appropriation of the Tibetan landscape through narratives of colour, purity and smoothness. Deconstructing and repositioning the train journey as stage sets in order to expose the exploitation of the landscape has a specific purpose to propose something that can truly be experienced. The intention is to design through a narrative structure in order to facilitate a different spatial experience for passengers taking the journey.

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Set out from the point of view of a passenger travelling from Beijing to Tibet by rail, Cautionary Colours examines the exploitation and appropriation of the Tibetan landscape through narratives of colour, purity and smoothness. It views the train journey itself as a propaganda machine, promoting the engineering masterplan which has allowed industry and tourism to explode in the region. Potential passengers are marketed the journey from China into Tibet as a seamless transition from the greys and browns of polluted Chinese cities to the pure blue skies of the plateau. But the colours of a landscape are fragile and finite resources and extracting them as marketing tools to promote an increase in the industry, in fact, accelerates their degradation. Deconstructing and repositioning the train journey as a series of stage sets in order to expose the exploitation of the landscape has a specific purpose, proposing and constructing something that can truly be experienced. A narrative structure is designed in order to facilitate a distinctly different spatial experience for passengers taking the journey. The target audience is the traveller on the train, and the goal is to develop a new typology of experiencing the landscape by making the views fail.

Medium:

film/collage

Size:

5 minutes
collagecolourfilminfrastructuremappingpuritysmoothness

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