Folded Ocean

Lindsay Bremner

Viewing continental geographies from the perspective of the sea offers new understandings of global interconnectivity and new opportunities for spatial and architectural research. Folded Ocean is an on-going experimental research project into the organisational and spatial logics of the Indian Ocean world, a fluid, anti-geographical space where many transnational systems, practices and imaginaries intersect. It identifies these and follows their itineraries as they fold ashore into material and spatial products, bringing together sea and land-based logics.

The Indian Ocean is almost symmetrical about a north south axis running down the length of the Maldives’ archipelago.  If the ocean is folded about this axis, a number of cities map more or less onto one another. Dubai (United Arab Emirates) folds onto Kolkata (India) along the Tropic of Cancer, Mogadishu (Somalia) onto Singapore along the equator, and Durban (South Africa) onto Perth (Australia) along the Tropic of Capricorn. These cities mark the symbolic geographic extremities of the ocean. At its central point lies Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory), which, as Malta is to the Mediterranean, is equidistant from all points.

This image of the ocean as figure, not void, de-continentalises territory, de-nationalises space and brings the Ocean into view as a hyper-connected global region.

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[1] DeLanda, M. (2011). Philosophy and Simulation. The Emergence of Synthetic Reason, London and New York: Continuum. This refers to Manuel DeLanda’s notion of capacity, something with a different ontological status from a property. A property is always actual, a knife is sharp or blunt; its capacity to cut things however, is a potential until exercised. It is relational and contingent on the existence of things to cut.
[2] Bose, S. (2006). A Hundred Horizons. The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.
[3] Roonwal, G. S. (1986). The Indian Ocean. Exploitable Mineral and Petroleum Resources,New York: Springer Verlag.
[4] Hofmeyr, I. (2010). Universalising the Indian Ocean. PMLA125(3), 721–729.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ho, E. (2004). Empires Through Diasporic Eyes; A View from the Other Boat, Comparative Study of Society and History46(1), 212.