14 October 2013

Media/Art Kitchen: Reality Distortion Field @ Publika

No thanks to semantic descriptions, science and art have drifted apart. To say that Leonardo did not adopt a systematic approach towards perfecting the sfumato technique, is like saying Galileo was not creative. "Media/Art Kitchen" reminds one that the innovative use of media, is an endeavour as significant as the re-engineering of an artistic concept. Translation features heavily in many works, its aim to communicate something previously not understood into one comprehensible to human senses, albeit with mixed success. Interactive workshops along Art Row include making music from non-Art objects, while sounds emitting from plants and physical movements presume sonic engineering. Inside Black Box, the need for acceptance is questioned by Hagihara Kenichi, whose short videos of people posing for camera pictures, are ridiculous yet universally recognised.

Seen it real-life: Kuwakubo Ryota - The Tenth Sentiment 10番目の感傷 (2011)

Indisputably the exhibition highlight, Kuwakubo Ryota's 'The Tenth Sentiment' is a 7-minute shadow sequence that mesmerises visitors with familiar contours and precise set up. A miniature train travels pass people and structures, rooftops and tunnels, its perspective changing discreetly from the window to the driver's seat. Invoking the familiar activity of a journey, the meditative ride seem to echo words by the architect Christopher Alexander: "We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed and a context which we cannot properly describe." Better defined are Yagi Lyota's instructive work about focus, where wooden frames stress the prerequisite availability of a surface area, for light rays to converge onto. This clever installation denotes a physical law that mirrors the mental need to navigate concentration levels, for one to focus and comprehend a message at hand.

Stills from The Propeller Group - The Dream (2012)

With representing artists from ASEAN countries, social commentaries abound in distinct works by The Propeller Group and Oomleo. A hidden camera captures the Vietnamese dream of owning Honda motorcycles in the former, while low-resolution pixels in the latter depict a subverted narrative of the Indonesian commoner. Fairuz Sulaiman leads the Malaysian contingent with his reconstruction of a back-to-basics slide projector, which together with the activity of illustrating film, ought to be taught in all Malaysian schools as part of the creative agenda. Strangely appropriate inclusions into this well-curated exhibition, are explorations of anthropology and the metaphysical. Operasi Cassava's online project implores a search for one's roots implied via a vegetable plant; Tamura Yuichiro's animistic mask is an output from his otherworldly experience of residing in the rainforest jungle. Reality distortion field may be corporate hogwash, but the tireless pursuit of truth in one's own language, is synonymous in both art and science.

Top left & middle: Tribal masks from the Mah Meri tribe; Top right: Tamura Yuichiro - A Dream I Dreamt in the Forest (2013); Bottom: Still from video record of Tamura's visit to the Mah Meri tribe

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