on camera

The visual art exhibition, On Camera, signifies an important phase in MES 56’s passage as part of a discourse in the contemporary arts in Indonesia. In Yogyakarta, 2002, MES 56 was established during the time when the Indonesian photography has a strong tendency to only be explored in the realm of journalism. Their goal: introduce new approaches in the field of photography by positioning it in the filed of arts and, at the same time, question the role of photography in presenting reality.

On the contrary, in presenting romanticism or dramatizing reality in the contemporary art contexts, the artworks from the group fundamentally present criticism towards the phenomenon in the daily lives of ordinary people. They have positioned photography as a medium to present ideas and imaginations, to play with reality through visual images that are humorous and not dramatized. At the same time they question photography as a medium in the contemporary art world which its existential adjacent to the rapid development of technologies for producing visual images. The rapid change in technologies encourages photographers to adapt their perspective and ideology on their roles in social lives. They have observed how photography became the most democratic medium for the general public, particularly now when technology is less costly and easier to access.

In the present art scene, ideas that are introduced by MES 56 have become one separate genre on visual arts in Indonesia, which in the last two years, became widely spread and exhibited in many commercial galleries. On the other hand, there are still discussions amongst audiences on how to ‘perceive’ the new trend that is seen as a radical new perspective on photography. All the more, this question also emerges amongst artists, curators and critics. In a certain ways, MES 56 artworks are placed into something subversive.

The exhibition explores ideas about the camera itself, which has always been defined only as an object (tool). Conversely, the exploration on the camera notions a new ideology in photography. In realizing this design, they focus on how a camera became a representation of how to perceive the world; a representation on “how to see” (the way of seeing). Each artist questions their own relationship with the camera, how they define photography and how they present basic questions on introducing new ideology in photography.

All of the exhibited artworks in On Camera deal with layers of reality that now develops beyond their position as representations of what is here and now, what is actual and recent. The relationship between the layers of reality with the context of lens and camera, questions on memories, reconstruction of the past, and visualization of the future became the main ideas that are put forward by the artists. Relating to the development of technology, the artists demonstrate how easy it is to play with reality: re-create, manipulate, control and freeze moments. What is identified as “reality representation” itself, has transformed into something of a wider scope; starting from daily practical lives, objects and still life, to landscape and architecture. The broad scope of this visual theme shows similarities and differences of each artist as a group, especially their expressions in responding the social theme and cultural landscape of contemporary society.

While underlining the political value of a camera as a medium, and how it is put to use in the contemporary art, at the same time, the exhibition also captures, in a unique way, the current reality of the daily lives in the global society. Consequently, in exploring the possibility of breaking the limit of a camera and the definition of its function, this artist collective is setting its foot as an influential group in the Indonesian contemporary visual art scene.

Venue: BIASA ArtSpace
Jl. Raya Seminyak No. 34
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
December 16th, at 6 pm

email : media@biasaart.com

The last image above are my works. Still Life Study series - (left): Still Life Study #2: freezing the falling snow on a strange tropical lake (right): Still Life Study #1: capturing a moment in a windy garden party

Taking picture is an act of imitating.....
Taking picture is an effort or act to imitate. A photograph is an imitation of something which is seen by our eyes; a representation of reality. What we see or perceive as "reality", in the end will be in a distance with photographic reality, (or with) the one which was captured or frozen by camera.
In this body of work, I try to re-investigate and challenge the concept or the act of "imitating" and photographic moment. I arranged several object (toys or miniatures) in such manner, and put them as if it might be, to re-actualize, to reconstruct what we perceive as "imitating what we see".

still life is a dead and static thing, basically....
Still life or photography, basically is a "dead thing" or frozen image. I consider that "still" means "dead". In these pictures, I constructed or arranged those objects as if they were moving toward into one point, and (or) pressing the shutter release button on the camera at the time when they were moving into their next moments. "To make the stills to be more alive..."