I arrive in Jakarta after a turbulent flight through a thunderstorm and it feels as if I’ve crossed a threshold into Southeast Asia. For the next few weeks, I continue onto Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines and I feel more than an economic and political thread that connects the region. The thread is sensorial and is rooted in the earth, and it presents itself wherever I go.
The entire region feels like a living, pulsing organism. The air envelopes my skin - sharp and brisk in the mountains, moist and cloying near sea level. The landscape unfurls with its inhabitants or, perhaps, despite them. Steel pillars root out of the earth but the fertile land attempts to reclaim its authority. Manicured hedges confined to a strip along a smoky highway catch a brief moment of clarity, while skyscrapers cluster against a building steeped in history and tradition.
Time seems to oscillate in the region. The landscape is a set of visual dichotomies - simultaneously historical and contemporary, natural and manufactured, chaotic and orderly. It is an assembly of casual configurations, a set of primordial forms emerging from the symbiotic relationship between the earth and humans. Pristine in all of its messiness, it is a new environment, unceasingly growing, mutating, evolving.