Ghosts of Tokyo

Through analysis of current living and working conditions of day labourers who inhabit the area of San’ya, Ghosts of Tokyo (2017) creates a new urban commons which challenges the notion of Tokyo as a dense city. Using bamboo as a means of defining territory and creating a new social infrastructure, the day labourers of San’ya support not only themselves but the community as a whole.

This essay film by Sarah Gerrish, in collaboration with tutors Sarah Mills and Doreen Bernath, exemplifies the unique theatrical and filmic sets methodology probed by the Cinematic Commons design and research studio. Since 2013, Cinematic Commons have developed a critical, diverse body of urban propositions in response to infrastructural themes of ‘Interchange’, ‘Water’, ‘New Nature’, ‘Subtraction’, ‘Decommissioned’, ‘Scapes’ and ‘Affectivity’, and seek to catalyse genuinely public, proactive and productive urban transformations. One critical intention has been to explore new relations between a plurality of interrogative mediums and the architectural possibility of ‘commoning’. Based in Leeds, Cinematic Commons interweaves strategies of essay film, cinematic forensics, story/spaceboards, set models and layered scenes, composite drawing and 1:1 installation in contexts of Mumbai, Mexico City, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Marseille and Beijing to develop architectural interventions as urban commons. Works seek to remedy the disintegration of the public domain as that which is active, collective and productive. The unit has formed a number of international partnerships through public events, symposiums, workshops, exhibitions and publications in collaboration with Studio X Mumbai of GSAPP, Columbia University; The Tetley Gallery, Leeds; Taller13, Mexico City and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Cinematic Architecture Tokyo and The Faculty of Design, Kyushu University; AAVS Tropicality; raumlabor and Berlin University of the Arts.

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Bio of artists:

Doreen Bernath is an architect and a theorist across disciplines of design, technology, philosophy, visual art, media and cultures. Trained at Cambridge and the AA, she won an RIBA scholarship and was a finalist in 2011 for the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding Thesis. She is currently a co-editor of RIBA’s The Journal of Architecture, a director of studies in AA PhD, AA Project Cities MPhil and AA HTS programs, a co-founder of research collective ThisThingCalledTheory, AAVS Uncommon Walks, and a senior lecturer at Leeds School of Architecture.

Sarah Mills is an architect, Head of the Leeds School of Architecture and Head of Subject in Architecture and Landscape at Leeds Beckett University. She has co-directed the MArch studio ‘Cinematic Commons’ with Dr. Doreen Bernath since 2013/14 and jointly founded Group Ginger. Sarah’s research reconsiders future models of interdisciplinary practice and the relationship between architecture and film in challenging urban conditions.

Sarah Gerrish studied architecture at the Leeds School of Architecture and is currently an architect practicing in the Lake District area. She is also the founder of the Wonderfully Wild Women community since 2016 with the aims to inspire all women no matter what their age, experience or ability to get into the outdoors and get active.

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Theatres of Architectural Imagination Frascari Symposium V