Mingjia Chen

M.Arch, MCP

Mingjia Chen is a design worker interested in urban planning's historical complicity with community dispossession and stigmatization. They work with texts, audio recordings, and footage to transcribe lived experiences into symptomatic readings of curriculums, policies, and decisions that shape the city. They have worked with Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal), GSD Druker Design Gallery (Cambridge), Kirkland Gallery (Cambridge), and Or Gallery (Vancouver). They are pursuing their Master of Architecture and a Master in City Planning at MIT.

out of frame is a student-edited platform supported by MIT Architecture for all things untold, unseen, and forgotten. We are interested in elevating what is hidden in our everyday life, academic or not. Topics can span from untold (hi)stories to forgotten places, from things we misunderstand to unseen processes. Contexts situate anywhere in between the saturated bounds of the institutional. Formats include essays, videos, interviews, comics, and more.

Taking Hannah Landecker’s alternative concept of metabolism that the human body is the site where categories become blurred, the filming and editing process recognizes and portrays the design studio as a site of similar function.

The film opposes the conventional understanding that school projects are deeply hypothetical and immaterial. I take autoethnography as a critical method to investigate my education. Filming my studio class for the past two months, I hope to polemically demonstrate architectural design’s pedagogical goal as one that has significant material impacts beyond education.

Produced for 21A.859 Social Theory and Analysis, Fall 2022, Taught by Michael M.J. Fischer.
Today, national borders are the very site of hyper-surveillance. Not every traveling body is mobile in the same way due to political and legal boundaries. Harald Bauder wrote that “the imagination of open borders is a faint and unfinished image that arises on a distant horizon, whereby the concrete terms of what an open-borders world would look like are not yet discernible.” Yet, border fluidity is already practiced by migrants daily, and is not utopian but part of an ongoing struggle for change. The modern practice of border fluidity is heavily policed.