We are conducting an ethnographic investigation into the status of the bicycle in Southeast Asia, mainly through observation and photography.
Although the language barrier may present limits to the accuracy and universality of our claims about the bicycle in Southeast Asia, we believe that the skill of ‘close looking’ will be an interesting and valuable way to access the story of the bicycle.
Our inquiry is an organic process of us stringing together multiple threads (in photos, videos, or stories), and weaving together the rich tapestry of the bicycle of Southeast Asia. We aim to be insightful yet not overly-reductive, intellectual but not overly stuffy. One day we may formally study the ethnography of the bicycle. But for now, we enjoy being story-tellers.
Here are some examples of questions we will be asking:
– Is the bicycle an archaic or an emergent technology? What place does it occupy within a modernising world?
– What does the bicycle facilitate? What communities and energies surround the bicycle?
– What status do our bicycles have as compared to those we encounter?
– How does one’s access to spaces and places change if travelling by bicycle as compared to other forms of transport?
– Is the bicycle being replaced? Is it still justified as the quintessential image of Southeast Asia?
We hope to answer these abstract and complex questions by observation, and by taking photos.
We plan to take portrait photos of the people we encounter and their bicycles along our journey. These photos will act as the answers to some of our questions.
Feel free to follow our journey and view our photos here!