By UK/Indonesia 2016-18 team

04 December 2018 - 19:35

Among the art installations showcased during The Other Festival at Hotel Monopoli Jakarta, 2-Tak, a two-stroke engine hacked using electronica and sound, drew the most attention thanks to its unique display: it was housed inside a van and invited the general public to come and take part in its myriad of activities. “The idea was to set up a mobile pit stop for teaching DIY mechanics and different kinds of simple techniques to fix things as well as doing technology-based workshops like building synthesizers, in addition to music and performances,” explains Glasgow-based artist Robbie Thomson, who helped design the installation alongside initiators Helmi Hardian and Debrina Tedja from WAFT Lab.

Having already collaborated with WAFT Lab last year, Thomson claimed to be keen on coming back to the collective’s base in Surabaya and lending a hand to the exciting project. “The concept for 2-Tak came from Helmi and Debrina. They thought about converting a 1991 Mitsubishi van into a mobile lab that they can use to bring their existing workshop programmes into different areas of Indonesia,” he says. 

The display at Hotel Monopoli, he adds, was only the beginning for 2-Tak before going to other places in Indonesia next year. “I think it’s a very engaging way to get people into experiencing the first taste of these kind of processes,” he comments. “I like the idea of the vehicle going out as an educational program and how it lures the masses into technological or art-making processes that might seem a bit daunting at first.”

Although not involved in its conception, Thomson eventually came on board for the project after further talks with the collective. “It just seemed like it would be a natural fit for me to come in and start helping out, especially since my work mainly revolves around visual arts, theatre, music and robotics,” he elaborates.

His fondness of the collective spirit at WAFT Lab also prompted his consecutive involvement in the UK/ID programme. “I love the relationships and friendships that I have made within the last couple of years with Indonesian artists and collectives. I was grateful for spending a lot more time with WAFT Lab, getting to know their methods of work and working with very nice people,” he enthuses, before remarking on potential future collaborations. 

“There’s something about the spirit of making work between the artists I’ve worked with that I love and relate to. There’s a shared spark that’s made it a very fun and enjoyable experience to come and work in Indonesia.”

Robbie Thomson