Water is the living world. Water is the primordial force of life and the cornerstone of our future reality. Yet, our modern pace of life and our ever-expanding cities are destroying it faster than ever.
Anthropogenic climate change will dramatically impact all life on earth, potentially erasing it—it has already begun to silently alter the cultures, histories and identities of our shared humanity. Will we be able to outrun the ‘Frankenstein monster’ we’ve created?
French-Japanese designer, environmentalist, educator and entrepreneur Cesar Jung-Harada looks this monster in the face, not fearfully, but with promise. With an interdisciplinary practice of over 20 years, focused on harnessing the potential of the ocean, he draws on the synergy of nature, history and technology, to construct experimental inventions that pave the way for sustainability and design futures. Jung-Harada’s Ocean Imagineer residency at ArtScience Museum is a continuation of his personal conviction for decolonised knowledge structures and tangible sustainable futures. With a wealth of experience working with organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, National Geographic, United Nations and TED, Jung-Harada is rarely found in a lab wearing a white coat. Instead, he sources for climate solutions in lived experience and with the spontaneity of imagination that he seeks everywhere and anywhere—from a trash mountain to a floating solar hydrogen plant. Jung-Harada knows the world will not be saved by conglomerates but rather by communities, where local tradition meets personal passion and actionable conviction.
Jung-Harada flouts arbitrary boundaries that divide disciplines, believing all, especially future generations, are intrinsically equipped to be inventors. The climate crisis demands a solution that hides beyond existing boundaries of science, engineering and design. In his educational work Jung-Harada imparts a spirit of curiosity and entrepreneurship, that survives on experimentation and adapts itself to support an interdependent relationship between human and nature.
“What if we adopted the mindset of both the artist and the scientist? We could be pioneering technological and social change with relentless creativity and rigor, asking difficult questions and looking for solutions.” (Cesar Jung-Harada, 2023)
Disrupting existing hierarchies of knowledge creation, empowering individuals with the courage, confidence, and the ability to self-manifest visions of an ecologically sustainable planet Earth, Jung-Harada’s inventive process weaves play, collaboration and vision in the spirit of what he calls “co-opetition”—the collision of “collaboration” and “competition”. It is a paradigm shift with the potential to change how we address the climate crisis, moving away from anxious existentialism towards spontaneity and creativity. He lobbies for art and science research to be open source, encouraging all to work generously and collaboratively.
“I believe it is pertinent to abandon the boundaries that separate us, and instead radically share, to build a wealth of knowledge, experience, and hands-on skills. The ocean controls the climate and is widely accessible by many. We can make a big difference on our climate impact when we start to care and to work together.” (Cesar Jung-Harada, 2023)
As ArtScience Museum’s inaugural ArtScientist-In-Residence, Jung-Harada’s Ocean Imagineer residency brings to the museum, and more generally to Singapore, four of his ongoing projects: Indigenous Future Outrigger, Ocean Solar Hydrogen, Shape Shifting Sailing (Protei) and Ocean Train. Each of these projects reimagines existing technology, either through an overhaul of design principles that have remained unchallenged for generations, or through the revisiting of local traditions which once honoured both humanity and environment. Ocean Imagineer does not merely envision the extension of our survival on Earth, but a living symbiosis between humans and the natural world.
Ocean Imagineer: ArtScience Residency with Cesar Jung-Harada will run from April 2023, culminating in a showcase in the second half of 2024. More information on this edition of the residency, including detailed information on programmes running, can be found here.