Diane Wiltshire from Birmingham Open Media shares her experience in the vibrant area of Old Town (Kota Tua) Jakarta and how it feels like to bring Sentiment project for the first time in Indonesia.
On the 19th and 20th of November I had the great pleasure of showing my project Sentiment at the Digital Design Weekend in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was my first visit to Indonesia and the experience was more wonderful than I could have hoped. I am a fellow at BOM, Birmingham Open Media and was invited to show my work as well as helping with some R&D. To further inform future collaborative projects in Indonesia within the intersection of art, technology and science. I set off for Indonesia on the rush hour train from Birmingham City Centre to the airport on a cold evening. I wanted to give myself plenty of time as I was traveling with an electronic vest and wasn’t sure how understanding airport security would be. I need not have worried, even with the Director of BOM and the Head of Programming shouting Di through the hoards of people and it’s ok we are from BOM, the security staff were very accommodating and curious about the project.
It is a very long way to Jakarta, and when we arrived it was night again. A wall of humid air thick with the smell of cloves cigarettes greeted us, as well as a very lovely lady from the British Council. On our first day we met with Hivos people unlimited. An organisation which I found very inspiring. We learnt a little more about Indonesia, and the work that Hivos does. We met with people leading ‘Voices’ a social inclusion programme. I would very much like to learn from these ladies as I could see parallels with my inspiration for Sentiment. I wanted our voices to be heard. It is humbling as an artist to sit at a table with people whom are striving for transparency and accountability as well as women’s empowerment through an organisation such as Hivos.
Our second day started early as we had to travel to the old part of Jakarta for the Digital Design Weekend, part of the UK/ID festival. The traffic in Jakarta is like nothing I have seen before, I will never again complain about the traffic in Birmingham, well not for a few months anyway. The old part of town is very different, from the monumental buildings found in the rest of the city. There are brightly coloured bicycles which you can ride round the square with complimentary wide brimmed hats in matching colours. I did look out for the brave whom navigate the roads of Jakarta on bicycle, but the square seems the most enjoyable place.
I really enjoyed the Digital Design weekend, for many reasons. The version of Sentiment I brought to Indonesia was very different to the installation I toured across the UK in 2015. The vest has been redesigned so that it was more inconspicuous in a busy environment and it can tell where the attention of the wearer is rather than the space itself monitoring this. The soundscape was originally delivered through multiple speakers in a dark room was now produced in virtual environment through sound cancelling headphones, with thanks to Paul Tennent from the Mixed Reality Lab at Nottingham University, where I am artist in residence. I was able to show this new version which is exciting as it is a different take on virtual reality. In the sense that it is replacing senses and augmenting others. Revealing the emotions of another person through sensation and conversations which took place in a different time on a different continent. I was also was thrilled to be able to interview voices from Asia which will be added to Sentiment now I am back in the UK. It was particularly wonderful to be part of the Digital Design weekend as there was so many other interesting works of art. Such as, In My Shoes: Dancing with Myself by Jane Gauntlett and Pesta Synthesiser by Andreas Siagian of Lifepatch.
Karen Newman the Director of BOM, wants to create meaningful collaboration projects between the UK and Indonesia artists and organisations. To initiate this it was important to do some research by asking Indonesia people, particularly women what is important to them. On bright yellow postcards, the colour of BOM, participants recorded their responses. It has been enlightening to read the responses, thanks to everyone who took part. I look forward to seeing exciting projects in the future.
More information on exploring Yogyakarta’s arts and technolgy scene.
Information on Horizon’s Sentiment Art project can be found here.