Neo-Fictionalization -- Staged on Disputed Island

Jingya Guan

‘Canary’ed, Yellow’


Perry Kulper


The thesis explores narrative constructions that produce architecture, simultaneously enabling architecture to act as a generative medium for narrative expression. In this way, the investigation explores an architecture that acts as a catalyst for, and a response to, conflicting political and cultural systems. ‘Neo-Fictionalization’ stages specific communicative structures, representationally and spatially, imbued with the capacity to re-fictionalize the spatial narratives, and political consequences, of a disputed situation. Equally, it inspects how spatial settings might stage, and reframe, multi-political and cultural complexities.

To develop a strategy and specific spatial tactics, the work is situated on Diaoyu Island, a disputed territory now lawfully occupied by China, while simultaneously claimed by Japan. As a result of the complex ecology of geopolitical factors, Diaoyu Island is embedded with political and cultural conflicts, while harboring mythical maritime references to the past—a fertile topography to stage this thesis.

The conceptual framework for ‘Neo-Fictionalizations’ trades on existing conflicts, establishing a richly embroidered political and cultural background, through which to examine highly charged and contentious conditions. A conceptual framework that trades on the deep and rich cultural values of festivals, orients the work towards reframing and negotiation. The festival construct is populated by four main characters, two of which are protagonists—the Chinese Government and the Sea citizens. And two hidden characters—Japanese nationalists and the U.S. Government. The involvement of governing characters stages political games and interplays of cultural influences, mutually shared. The ‘Sea Citizens’ allow a staging of an assembly of ethical conflicts, human and non-human, and between the two political protagonists. The design of fictional festivals gathers these considerations, foregrounding the transformation of festival narratives into a spatial narrative. In this way, the spatial construct acts as a medium through which certain social phenomena can be questioned, and equitably reframed.