When disciplines collide

When disciplines collide: Objects, Imaginations, Narratives

Michael Tan

Penetrating beyond the banal percept of flip-flops, Michael collaborated with sociologist Caroline Knowles to navigate through China and Ethiopia to animate the life-worlds that have been downplayed by the economics of matter. This project proposes a different way of seeing and thinking about everyday objects. It also suggests an alternate encounter for sociological pondering embodied through a photographic installation, an alternate mode of documentary. The sea of floating images in the installation is set up to lead viewers to wander, make relations and construct their own narrative about the flip-flops. Their pondering is guided by an excerpt of the flip-flops life cycle as observed. Through this poetic and playful encounter with text and image, the work provides us with a moment to recognize that material objects have lives and within them, tales of human life.

Michael Tan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has previously taught at the LaSalle College of the Arts and the National Institute of Education in Singapore. He received his BFArts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his Masters in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths College, University of London. His practice seek to link art and design to the fields of Healthcare, Humanities, Architecture and Communications, exploring these connections through the larger framework of Visual communications and Visual Methodology.


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