‘Asia’ has been named the site of the civilisational future, while Southeast Asia is identified as the site of urban futures as a key region that is witnessing rapid urbanisation. Southeast Asian global cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur function as capitals from which financial and technological futures are produced and exported as ‘urban innovation’; capitals such as Hanoi and Phnom Penh are projected as developing cities with potential for exponential economic and urban growth, while new future cities such as Nusantara in Indonesia, are being proposed to complement and replace existing cities faced with the risks of climate change. Supporting these technological enterprises of future-making are technical expressions of governance. These range from national policy visions that look to the future as a metaphorical “horizon of expectation” (Koselleck 1985), and those that spatially manifest the future through the articulation of citational geographies, the construction of aspirational megastructures and utopian (and dystopian) landscapes. Writers, artists and creative practitioners have produced speculative aesthetic futures as cultural forms of critiques and counter-fictions, experiments and visions, some in response to emergent geopolitical and technological urban-centred developments and broader ecological, political and social crises.
This roundtable seeks to initiate a conversation on the generation and articulation of contemporary Southeast Asian aesthetic urban futures between Jason Wee and Tita Salina, two Southeast Asian based artists whose creative works and practice demonstrate an involved engagement with the notion of ‘Asia’ as future and/or with the future(s) of Southeast Asian urban environments they engage with or are based/situated in. They are invited to introduce their work and discuss their perceptions of the various conditions underpinning the ‘urban future(s)’ of Southeast Asian cities, their thoughts on Southeast Asian speculative urbanisms and imaginaries, and on the notion of ‘Asia as Future’ and its possible critical and creative utilit(ies).
Find more info here.
Asia Research Innstitute, National University of Singapore