MAAP 2004 in Singapore: defying gravity

MAAP not only locates Australia’s new media art firmly in the Asia-Pacific, as it first did from its Brisbane base, but now as a unique off-shore event (Beijing 2003, Singapore 2004 and Seoul next) it makes its meetings and collaborations between artists a truly regional exchange. MAAP defies the conventional gravity of place. In fact ‘gravity’ is the event’s 2004 theme and is manifest in many ways, lo-tech and high, as conceptual and new media art, and in a plethora of images—aural and visual—of bodies floating, leaping and being transmitted.

For 2004 Yves Klein’s le peintre de l’espace se jette dans le vide, (‘leap into the void’, 1960) has been adopted as a visual thematic, reflecting not only MAAP’s daring and mobility but also Klein’s influence in “the shift from ‘object based’ to ‘system based’ art making” (MAAP press release). Klein’s visual sleight of hand is also in tune with new media art’s great capacity for illusion.

MAAP’s key exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum is titled Gravity and “seeks to consider the explorations of artists working through the conceptual weight of their expression and the paradox of weightless digital code.” Curated by MAAP director Kim Machan, Gravity (Oct 1-Nov 28) features works by Yves Klein (France), of course, and artists working inventively on many new media fronts: Candy Factory (Japan) and YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES (Seoul); Shu Lea Cheang (New York); Marcus Lyall (Melbourne); Ji-Hoon Byun (Seoul); Kim Kichul (Seoul/Seattle); Tsunamii.net (Singapore); Paul Lincoln (Singapore); Tim Plaisted (Brisbane); Paul Bai (Brisbane); Tan Teck Weng (Perth) and Xing Dan Wen (Beijing).

The associated Zero Gravity Party on October 29 will feature a live broadband link between the museum and the Creative Industries Precinct, QUT, Brisbane, directed by Tien Woon of Tsuanmii.net. The DJ/VJ culture jam will celebrate the link’s providing of a site for intensive cross-artform dialogue.

In Scan (Oct 27-Nov 13), Singapore’s experimental arts hub, The Substation, will house Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archives (AAA) as it gathers new media data for its collection—putting the archivist on show. Artists are invited to drop in and contribute material. Substation will also show a Videotage program from Hong Kong and screen some eagerly anticipated Korean video art.

Ear Lu Gallery (LA SALLE SIA College of Fine Arts) will show -+- negative plus negative (Oct 2-31). It’s compiled by Gridthiya Gaweewong, co-director and curator of Project 304, a homeless art organisation founded in Bangkok in 1996. He is also a guest curator at Chiangmai University Art Museum, Chiangmai, and Art Center, Jim Thompson House Museum, Bangkok. This relatively lo-tech, conceptual show includes artists working in installation, performance, digital video and sound, exploring the law of gravity aesthetically, socially and politically—and there are not a few images of suspension. Kamol Phaosavasdi, Sakarin Krue-on and Wit Pimkarnchanapong are from Thailand and Anthony Gross and Jim Prevett & McArthur from the UK.

Australian video art is featured in the touring exhibition I thought I knew but I was wrong at The Gallery, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Oct 22-Nov 17). Curated by Sarah Tutton (Asialink) and Alexie Glass (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) the impressive collection includes works by Guy Benfield, Phillip Brophy, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Daniel Crooks, DAMP, Destiny Deacon, Virginia Fraser, Shaun Gladwell, Lyndal Jones, The Kingpins, Marcus Lyall, James Lynch, Tracey Moffatt, TV Moore, Patricia Piccinini, David Rosetsky, Ivan Sen, Monika Tichacek and Craig Walsh.

Brisbane-based sound artist Lawrence English is curating The Gravities of Sound (Oct 11-28) in the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay pedestrian tunnel that links to the vast underground arcades and rail network of central Singapore. Sound equipment will be installed in the ceiling to provide an immersive audio experience for pedestrians as they pass through the 80 metre tunnel, a space where listening is usually not a priority. The artists include Kim Kichul (Korea), who will explore natural sounds in unnatural settings, and Candy Factory (Japan), Melatonin (an international compilation of works selected by English), Bruce Mowson (Australia) and Khin Zaw Latt (Myanmar). In Gravity Extended, curated by Kim Machan and Experimenta, an exhibition space at the end of the audio tunnel will visually extend the gravity theme with a work by Bruce Mowson, and Annie Wilson’s Fight or Flight digital video of streaming bodies falling through a void (Oct 11-Nov 31).

Another exhibition with sound at its centre brings Filipino and Myanmar artists with backgrounds in music, sound art, experimental video and digital imaging together to investigate “the corporeal and incorporeal qualities of sound, the body and force elements of sound.” Katawán, Satti (Body [Filipino], Force [Myanmar]) at The Gallery, National Institute of Education (Oct 27-Nov 28) is curated by Filipino artist, curator and digital media educator Fatima Lasay. It features Tad Ermitaño, Jing Garcia, Alfredo Manrique from the Philipines and Than Htike Aung and Khin Zaw Latt from Myanmar. The exhibition asks, “How do we learn to hear and understand each other across the differences of the spaces and the forces that we have built within and without our bodies? And when does the body ever really begin to feel comfort in foreign space?” The projected images and sounds in Katawán, Satti are presented “as ‘suspensions’—like bodies floating in space.”

For the latest word on new media art there are 2 key events: the 2004 MAAP conference, titled “New Media Art, Technology & Education” (Nanyang Technological University, Oct 27-28) and a symposium titled “Gravity” with speakers Fatima Lasay, Gridthiya Gaweewong, Kim Machan, Lee Weng Choy, Lawrence English and visiting artists (Singapore Art Museum, Oct 30).

Extending the reach of MAAP 2004 well beyond Singapore and the Asia-Pacific is an online and public video wall installation, People’s Portrait by Zhang Ga: “a global portrait of people rendered in real time and displayed instantly and simultaneously on various cultural websites and grand video walls.” The work will appear in Singapore, Brisbane (Creative Industries Precinct), New York (Reuters, Time Square), Linz (Ars Electronica Museum) and Rotterdam (DEAF Festival) from October 27. People’s Portrait has been produced in partnership with the dynamic, large scale SENI contemporary visual art event of which MAAP is a part.

RealTime will be at MAAP 04 in Singapore working with local and visiting writers, responding to exhibitions and conferences daily online. Keep track of MAAP with us as it unfolds. Defy gravity—join us at www.realtimearts.net/features

MAAP 2004 in Singapore, www.maap.org.au; SENI: Art and the Contemporary; Oct 1-Nov 28

RealTime issue #63 Oct-Nov 2004 pg. 36

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2004
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