Natural Forces Emotional Measurements is a video work that follows a Sundanese ritual blessing and then climbing of Gunung Batu mountain cliff located in Lembang, Bandung Indonesia. My goal for the film was to decentralise the role of the human in nature, but also reflect the paradoxical nature of this proposition.
The film was made during a one month long residency in Bandung Indonesia in September 2017 as part of UK/ID season 2016-2018 organised by the British Council Indonesia, conceived as a multimedia installation and solo exhibition at Platform3 Bandung, comprised of performative and sculptural elements generated in response to the use of natural elements as technology. I was interested in the idea of emotion playing a role in science and knowledge, and so I wanted to convey that through the way in which Gunung Batu, aka Watu Gunung, is portrayed in the film.
Forming part of the dialogue in the film, I invited a Geologist Rafi Pratista (also the rock climber in the film) and Sundanese blacksmith Opik Taufik to meet for the first time and discuss Gunung Batu.I also include a conversation with Opa Felix, an educator of Sundanese life practices, regarding the precariousness of living on Lembang Fault. Mirsi Insani from the West Java Cultural Park discusses her personal spiritual connection to Gunung Batu and her visits there. Bapak Oetji and Panji Sisdianto from the Bikers Brotherhood Motorcycle Club and Bumi Dega Sunda Academy tell us about Sundanese cosmology, meditation on Gunung Batu and the significance of the site in the history of Sundanese culture.
It was essential to construct a collective resonance through different testimonies about Gunung Batu and the Lembang Fault, also to then ground the conversation in physical actions performed in-situ. There are two different sources in the dialogue that discuss the symbolism of the coconut at ritual offerings known as 'sesajen'. There are also two different sources discussing an example of 'old technology', the ancient stone shaped like a baby called 'Batu Lonceng' (meaning stone bell) located in a village residing on the Lembang Fault, which is said to ring like bell when an earthquake was imminent. I was interested in how this stone equivocates with the actual modern seismograph situated on the top of Gunung Batu. Both Opa Felix and Rafi Pratista discuss the gentrification of Lembang and the importance of respecting its environment.
Accompanying the film is the sculpture and text Untitled (Batu Lonceng replica) made of papermache and chicken wire, based on photos and descriptions found on the Bandung tourism website www.wisatabdg.com
This is a replica of Batu Lonceng, which is a small stone, shaped like a baby. It is said to be manmade and was used as a warning sign for earthquakes because it would ring like a bell. It is located in a small village near Cibodas on the Lembang Fault. On Saturday 23 September I tried to visit Batu Lonceng Kulon. I ordered a Go-Car from Platform3 to the Maribaya Waterfall expecting a short walk to the location of Batu Lonceng.
On arrival a local guide told me that it was 7km away and recommended that we go by car or motorbike. Short for time, I decided to order another Go-Car from Maribaya Waterfall. We drove for about an hour before reaching a dirt road on the edge of a cliff blocked by road workers. So after a long conversation with the driver we had to turn back to Dago. I am still trying to organize someone to take me to see Batu Lonceng and I am curious to find out how alike my replica is to the original.
February 2016 ~
I began the ‘Coastline’ project as a topographic study of not just the coastal area of Hong Kong but also different vantage points of Hong Kong through a film that follows different ways of traversing the terrain, both urban and rural, by ferry, walking, bridges and by car. I became curious about coastal geography as a reminder of the finitude of land and also that the coastline is a meeting point of people, earth and water. I was thinking about the coastline as a navigational tool, territorial boundary, representation of nationhood and international exchange. I also wanted to explore ideas of the coastline as an invitation to escape and how it inspires a desire to travel.
I decided to investigate the way that land reclamation is a mark of how a country is changing. I have heard a lot of people around me talk about the changes happening to Hong Kong and the uncertainty of its future. I wanted to respond to this and from this I decided to really pay attention the changes happening by visiting the original coastline of Hong Kong, and as a starting point, the area I grew up in, Sai Kung. Walking along the original coastline seemed to make sense on a conceptual level.
I then looked at old maps of Sai Kung created by the government from 1920’s to 1960's. A historian then gave me insight into Sai Kung’s history and I discovered that he had mapped out the original coastline based on local knowledge of what it was like. I had originally thought that the earliest land reclamation projects were performed in the 1970s by the British, but I discovered that land reclamation happened much earlier by villagers and before colonization of the New Territories. So luckily with the help of the historian I was able to trace the original coastline of the Sai Kung Old Market as of the 19th Century.
I placed markers every 20 to 50 metres along the way. The placement of the markers can be seen in the diagram and map that I have made available on my website (see Coastline: Sai Kung). The route starts at Po Tung Road and ends further south on Hiram’s Highway. I walked through old streets and little alleyways. There are still many old businesses that exist in Sai Kung Old Town as it is known today. I placed a marker in a shop belonging to a couple that has been trading in Sai Kung since the 1940s (site 9). The original coastline of the Sai Kung Old Market was on the foot of two hills. The hill to the west still remains but most of the hill to the east is gone and only a little house remains (site 7). I also placed markers at two Earthgod shrines. One is in the heart of the market and is for the god of grain. I also end the walk at the fifth shrine. Other sites that I marked include the Tin Hau temple (site 3). Site 13 is at the bottom of the hill to the west. There is a row of old houses at the site. I placed my marker at some ruins. At the top of the hill is the building of the Sai Kung Rural Committee.
Although I was not able to walk straight through along the route due to the obstructions of housing and other inaccessible buildings I was still able to place markers consistently throughout the walk. As expected I did feel disorientated and lost at many points. I was driven by a purpose to confirm my location, to follow the original coastline and document what there was as I was experiencing it. And so I continued getting lost and then finding my way again.
October 2014 ~ (Edited December 2015) Reference Point Performance
There are five geometric drawings hung on each wall that show different configurations of triangles that reference the 'flexagon' geometric form, which is a flat net of triangles that folded in such a way can be 'flexed' to reveal different configurations. I also used a pattern to create the “Ouchi Illusion” effect of a shape that appears to hover over the background. The "Flexogram Dance" is the sequence by which the drawings rotate around the room, clockwise, counterclockwise, diagonally clockwise and diagonally counterclockwise.
The movements happening in the performance are designed to create divisions of space. The "Flexogram dance" is sequenced to emphasize the distance between the four walls. There is also the Mylar partition that moves forwards and backwards throughout the duration of the performance very slowly a few inches at a time. The movement references Zeno’s paradox that describes the illusion of motion. It is made of hand-drawn fractal geometric forms as well as representations of infinity to articulate a struggle between fixed and fluid notions of space.
On display is a postcard with an image of the Milky Way, sent to me by a friend mine, that has an arrow pointing at Earth with the description "You are here". While being a silly gesture, I like that it is a window looking onto ourselves and how something so small encompasses something so out of our grasp, reducing the galaxy onto a little piece of card used to communicate with loved ones. The base of a plastic wine glass is suspended over the postcard to distort the image of the galaxy. This effect is often used to demonstrate “gravitational lensing”, the bending of light due to the warping of space-time.
Readings take place each time the wall shifts. They bring together very different ways of thinking about how space is measured economically i.e. physical definitions such as edges, volume, surface, and other quotidian analogies that include specifications of a state of the art clothes dryer and interior design tips. There is also an abstract from a paper written by Microsoft Researchers about a visibility sorting algorithm for computer graphics. I also include sections from a university economics class exercise for formulating a graph.
The final component of the performance is a recording of me reading a list of the world's longest beaches according to the Huffington Post that plays over and over between the other actions. Much like the postcard, it is an attempt at condensing something massive and overwhelming. Measurement is one way of quantifying the world since it gives form to something abstract. The beach represents the notion of leisure and tourism, and much like the text that I included about interior design, it is a type of experience of place that is inextricably linked to economic inequality.