Monday, January 16, 2012

Victoria Lenoirre's Look at UWA Sky Sim Series: Between Orient and Occident

Explore the UWA Sky Sim once again this month and see "Between Orient and Occident" by Asmita Duranjaya. She is joined by ChapTer Kronfeld and Louly Loon.

At the landing point, you will find a bright orange/pink/yellow sign welcoming you to the installation. You are in Asmita's exhibition. Read on and you'll find that you need to click it to receive a HUD book that will guide you  through the sim. Plus, you'll be given hints throughout the book and at the end, you'll have to solve a puzzle. When you do, you'll be rewarded with a gift.

The first tarea you are in and where you land at is Travel & Trade. According to the book, "Travelling between Orient and Occident is the basis for individual experiences..." This tower portrays danger, war, bloodshed, and fear.

Your next destination is the Tale Tower. There you will find a book and a few yellow pose balls that allow you to sit in front of the book. The hint's answer is about a poet. Listen to the story and find out who it is.

Next is Color&Shape. You should be facing an image of the Taj Mahal when you turn your back on the door you entered by. Your task here is to listen to a tale. Click on a painting and you should get a link to a page. And you should hear the tale from the Windows Media player. The video is called 2 ways drum. Listen to it and figure out the clue.

The fourth destination is Urban Standardization. You hear faster, more upbeat, industrial drums. Everything moves faster and it's noisier. A lot of cities look alike with the tall structures, and air pollution. Walking around you get a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the noise. The effectt is more intense if you wear earbuds. You can even hear car noises. You might even feel lost in this place. Where is the exit? Your fourth hint has to do with pollution.

The fifth destination is Meditation & Healing. You are now in an Ayurveda garden. It is really lovely. Inside are descriptions for ayurvedic plants like Cardmom and Cinnamon. The answer to the last hint is one of the plants in the book. Read through the descriptions to learn which plant will give you the final letters.

The answer to the riddle is the name of a famous mythical creature.
Good luck solving the puzzle and have fun!

So come check it out here!

Between Orient and Occident @ UWA Sky Sim

I visited several times and thought up questions to ask Asmita Daranjaya about her exhibition She was most kind. I even met her while I was visiting one day.

Hi Asmita Duranjaya , I wanted to ask you and your team members about your UWA Sky Sim Installation "Between Orient and Occident". I find this an intriguing concept. I myself am of mixed European and Asian upbringing and ancestry. I believe that we all are of mixed backgrounds. But I've always noticed and felt the disparity between East and West throughout my life.

Can the 2 cultures be reconciled? And how? I agree with what Chapter says about how there must be tolerance. I have always noticed a culture gap when I talk to my parents or their friends. I am an American with European influences raised by Asian-born parents.  

Victoria, thanks for your inquisitive questions. Orient and Occident are not “cultures”, they are concepts, grown in the heads and fantasies of past and recent persons, authors, historians, scientists, philosophers, travelers, politicians etc. The terms orient and occident are discursive, that means there does not exist any fixed reality and you and me, we can create our own realm of orient and occident. That might be the biggest difference between Chap’s and my interpretation of the topic, that he tries to find something fixed, which he can take as “orient”, but it does not exist. I see it generally discursive, it is up to our own creativity, to make or see it as oriental or occidental. So I get at last for my person patterns, with whom I can play, which I can combine, modify, change, be it in my fashion style, the style of my interior or in my personality, my identity; the Cultural Studies use for that the term transculturality. It is not found outside, it is inside a person.

The first area is about a history of war and pain. Can you elaborate on that a bit?

No not only. There are also kinds of oasis for regeneration, art pieces, relaxing camels etc. It is an imaginative scenery of the so called Near East (desert countries) along the silk road, but very imaginative, without having the impact to show any reality.
The weapons and the bloody wall remind one of the recent incidents in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq etc.
 I noticed the yellow particles, is that supposed to be sand? For some reason, it made me think of Dune. The series by Frank Hebert?

I was smiling here, because you are absolutely right with your imagination of Dune – I had exactly the same association, when I created that – it symbolizes a sandstorm and the tunnels remind of the worms in Frank Herberts books.

Why did you use all the bright colors? I was surprised to see the bright pink, especially.

I used only textures, which I created with my RL stamp-technique and some photos processed with graphic software; I didn’t want to show a desert reality – it is my imaginative expression of a desert, that is alive.

This exhibition is mainly oriental in flavor and I think some were expecting a bit more occidental flavor in it. Can you explain why it was designed this way?
 As I wrote in the guiding hud-book, it is my personal intuitive processing of my personal experiences and emotional perception as somebody, who has grown up in a European context and has spend some lifetime in Asian countires. It is not a documentation. So if the “oriental” parts seem to be dominant, it is the perception of the viewer. For me it is not like that; it is the mixture, that I wear inside of me.

Aside from the road you mention in the Travel & Trade section of the book, what other places stood out to you as being dangerous or bearing traces of suffering? The camel and the sand, does that portray storms in the Sahara desert?

As mentioned above, the travel route between Europe and Asia has been historically and recently a route of blood and pain. And the camels are symbols for the trading function of that road.
 In the Tale Tower, I read the story The Grapes. It seems to be about how four men all want the same thing and don't realize it. How has this fable affected your way of thinking and living?

It is a nice fable to articulate the basic constants of humankind despite of the diversity of languages, cultures, religions etc. All are hungry and want to get the same thing to eat, only the terms are different. It shows the discursiveness of reality and the embedment and dependency of terms in cultural contexts, at last the segregating function of culture.

In Color & Shape, why did you choose the Taj Mahal as the central structure?

If you look closely, you will find that the Taj Mahal is only a vague shape, which I have modified with a lot of other shapes from different buildings. I like the shape of Asian palaces, temples and dagobas and to play with them was my topic in this area and in addition the colourfulness of the daily sceneries, that is sometimes overwhelming, when you see it the first time.

What is a Memorialis? I see a few throughout.
Memorialis is a Latin word, that means ‘beloning to the memory’ and I have craeted some small 3D-sceneries as kind of a visual diary of my impressions.

Out of all the major cities you've travelled to, which is the noisiest and busiest, you've been to? Do they seem to be all the same in a way, based on how chaotic and polluted they get?

I wanted to show the standardisation of those mega metropoles, which are growing all over the world, but also between orient and occident. They are all very noisy, be it Bangkok, Hongkong, Istanbul, Colombo, Beijing etc. But the busiest for me was always Jakarta in Indonesia.

Great busy city soundbyte. Did you mix it yourself? The colors and spiral effects on the floor are fantastic.
Thank you. Yes I have mixed the soundscape myself.

Meditation & Healing is a great concept. The Orient has always stressed the importance of healing. I noticed you included a Buddha statue and made mention of Vanaransi, a great city in India where Buddhists go to seek enlightenment.

 I am not sure, whether we mean the same city; In German we call it Varanasi. It is a starting point for travelling on Buddhist traces, because the historical Buddha Sakyamuni is said to have started his sermons here. The travelroute is then going up the river Ganges to Bodhgaya, where the famous bodhitree waits for the pilgrim to meditate.

What is the meaning of ayurvedic? What is the role that a Bodhi tree plays in healing & meditation?

I see meditation and healing as two parts of the same medal. There cannot be physical healing without cleaning the mind and vice verse. The Ayurvedha concept has been developed in India as well as in Sri Lanka and it is a whole system of healing also based on a mind-body entity. I have often practised it in Sri Lanka and can only recommend it for people who search for profound relaxation. Sitting peacefully under a tree, like the historical Buddha seems to have practised it himself, what better place could you find?

Did you create the textures yourself?

As I have already mentioned, I created the textures myself with my RL stamp-technique and some photos, like for the urban area, I processed with diverse graphic software.

ChapTer Kronfeld: The route for Occident to the Orient: A subjective test of ChapTer Kronfeld

Near the beginning of ChapTer's exhibit

You find yourself in a series of dark tunnels that twist and turn. You walk through the walls. You hear strange music and strange letters on the walls. What does it all mean?

If you walk a bit you see scrolling marquee letters that say "Searches For Orient." What is that all about? Will the tunnel lead us to the Orient?

What does the tunnel symbolize?

Walk further and you'll see scrolling marquee words that say Orient meets Occident in English and several other languages. You might hear a strange sound. The best I can describe it is that it is like a creaky bed spring and it just keeps looping.

Where Is The Way To Orient? This is a set of letters you'll see along the way.

Then you see green smoke? What is that about?

Walk on and you'll see bits of pink fog. What does it mean?

Then you see red and you hear some Indian music. Maybe I'm getting closer to the Orient?

I kept walking then I saw a scrolling marquee that said "Searches for Orient" surrounded by pink fog. I walked towards it and found myself falling down a tunnel. You stop falling and land in a room with letters that say "Orient meets Occident".  The words crisscross and coincide all around you.  And that is the end of the exploration or "test."

It took me a few hours and at least 2 visits to go through ChapTer's entire exhibit. It was definitely a test of my persistence and patience. I found it a rewarding experience.

I sent ChapTer my writeup with the questions I wrote as I was wandering through his "test." Here are his answers:

Hi Victoria, thank you for your interest in our joint project, UWA Exhibition in sky 2012, January [sharing the sky with Asmita Duranjaya and Louly Loon].

Here first a statement of my entire installation: 'The route from the Occident to the Orient'
The installation "The route from the Occident to the Orient" shows my subjective way to find an access to the inner structures of the Orient. As a person, who has grown up with occidental values and tolerant point of views, I set off in search and with an open mind for roughly understanding the ?
world of the orient The closer I approach my alleged target the less clear becomes the perception.

The journey has to remain the reward and not a static end point.

We all have to care and to make an effort to continuously step by step approaching the culturally different and new. Only this effort creates a permanent tolerance and respect of each other.

Now to your questions:

All fog on my long journey, rest places symbolize my thoughts.

The different colors of the nebula express the variety of my thoughts.

On these rest places (fog), I hear, always at the beginning, a clear musical phrase.

The more I listen, to understand this single aspect of the Orient, the less I hear the melody of this basic musical phrase.

It creates a loop, a musical chaos. I feel that I am turning in circles on the long way to "my" East .

I am moving forward, but don't see any goal. This is the meaning of the long tunnel.

On this long way, I keep asking myself  "Where is the way to the Orient". In between, I have to remind myself again and again of the topic: "Occident meets Orient meets Occident meed meets East - - - ".
After wandering for a long time I come to a subjective endpoint and I fall into the abyss of my doubts. These doubts become clearer, the deeper I fall. Now I can see all my doubts clearly infront of my eyes.

And these doubts show me that I will never find the  complete access to the Orient. A solution for this dilemma I think to find on others paths. But which ones? I do not know. I am going to the right, or straight, or I go to the left, or I go back. I'm trapped in a network. Like a small fly in a spider web, I move back and forth .. . I'm trapped. I don't find any way out. I did not find the quintessence of the Orient. I am not oriental. I remain a European.

Louly Loon's Extreme Orient un reve occidental.

Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly as depicted by Louly Loon

Based on the great, world-famous Italian opera Madame Butterfly. It's a blend of spiritual, musical, and cultural. Louly built 3 platforms. It looks and feels like a grand theatre. My favorite part was the platform where you land.

I find it fascinating that with white, Louly is able to capture sweetness and beauty. The music creates a delicate, poignant, touching ambience.

In the opera, Cio-Cio-San falls in love with Pinkerton and accepts his culture, turning her back on her own. It's always tough choosing between family and love, especially when one's culture is strict about marrying outside one's race and one's cultural background.

The second platform shows her waiting for him to return to her. Others surround her and it's as though you can feel their disapproval and shame for her. But she is so much in love that she no longer cares what her elders think of her and her behavior.

What does "Un bel di vedremo" mean?

In the end, she decides to die. So the third platform shows her on her knees praying, before she leaves off from living. The music is so sad. You feel this sense of hopelessness and despair.
At the third platform, what are the sounds one hears? Are there dogs barking?

I wrote to Louly about her exhibit and she kindly replied:

Hi Lady
Ty for your note

First you have to know that I'm Italian by my mother, that's why I'm more easy with Italian than English, and the text at the exhibit between Orient to Occident is Italian too..
I love music, and theater discovered Opera since few, and fall in love immediately, "La Wally", "Madame Butterfly", "La flute enchantée"...
For me Madame Butterfly is the symbol of the impossible love between extreme-orient and Occident. So many misunderstood, between those very different cultures. So very fascinating too!

Un bel di vedremo means "One good day we will see" (Google) it express hope in a beautiful future. Cio Cio San  thought with the filter of her culture, of her emotion. Honor, engagement, fidelity. She accepts his culture but she can't understand it. It's not how what she was educated in. So dramatically misunderstood, and such a beautiful gift! Her life and the fruit of her body, her son.

My work also talks about a woman's condition. As usual. I always explore this mysterious concept, "femininity".

The sound is an addition of sounds I found right and left in sl. Don't ask me what it is exactly, I don't know... but it's a water sound... a sound of life, of tears, of peace in death...

So there's my exploration of "Between Orient and Occident." Visit it here! You should all come visit the entire exhibition yourself. Take the challenge and have fun!

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