How does a grain of rice come to be? An assemblage of images, text, and vectors map temporalities that emerge from practices of cultivation and trade. This is a story of rice as time travelers over 2,000 years. It begins in the Mekong Delta, where cultivation of champa rice supported stable settlements, then follows particular rice varieties as they become technologies that assemble various sociopolitical formations, and weaves through the 2007/8 food crisis.

Four temporalities braid this story: the time of technologies, matter, memory, and a calendar year. The last draws from ethnographies of anthropologist Harold Conklin and biological research by agronomists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Philippines).

Installed as a long horizontal strip, the assemblage cannot be viewed in full from a fixed position. It invites viewers to walk through time, occupy multiple positions, and trace new connections.

Images on the right show the original installation at the Digital Arts Research Center, University of California, Santa Cruz (2011). Other installations include Postnatural, an exhibition by the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (2013); and World of Matter, an exhibition at Hartware MedienKunstverein (HMKV).


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Click to view full graphic that enables you to scroll through text and images.

Read about the research in Mapping Rice/Mapping Time, a book chapter in World of Matter, edited by Inke Arns/HMKV (Sternberg Press, 2015).

Play the video below for more about the installation.