By UK/Indonesia 2016-18 team

15 December 2017 - 16:09

Nada Bumi at Digital Design Weekend 2017

Invisible Flock is an interactive arts studio based in Leeds, making ground breaking public and digital artworks. Drawing directly from the world around us, their mission is to create and foster relevant and contemporary art practices that have a long lasting transformative effect.

In the past couple of weeks, Invisible Flock gang were in Indonesia—exploring Java and Flores—for a collaboration with Digital Nativ, a digital fabrication and rapid prototyping studio whose projects center around the adoption of technology as a medium.

This collaborative work is titled Nada Bumi and has been exhibited on November 18 and 19, 2017 at Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung for Digital Design Weekend: Bandung Remix.

To know more about Invisible Flock, their collaboration with Digital Nativ, Nada Bumi, to the fusing of arts and technology, we sat and talked with Technical Director Ben Eaton.

On Nada Bumi

“It’s a brand new collaboration between us and Digital Nativ. We worked together last year, but it was more of a response. For this year, it’s a full collaboration to make a project from scratch.

The idea of Nada Bumi is to explore some of the really, kind of unique natural phenomenon or ecosystems in Indonesia, both the variety and kind of their extreme nature.

So we spent ten days exploring twelve or so different locations around Java and Flores. And in each location we captured large amounts of sounds, physical samples, we’ve collected soil, rock, water, a lot of photography, a lot of images, and also biodatas using sensors and electrical circuits to capture sounds that maybe you don’t hear—imperceptible sounds that plants make or small sounds happening under the earth.

Then we collaged it all together into a new sound and object installation where we kind of tried to interpret or recreate those environments in a large collage for people to experience A lot of what we’re doing is threading a line between the man-made, and the mechanical, as well as the natural and finding a place where they meet.

The work’s very much about the fragility of all these ecosystems, these incredibly beautiful but fragile pieces of nature all around Indonesia, and how man’s intervention and the relationship with that. So we’re sort of looking at synthesized nature as much as anything I suppose.”

On choosing Indonesian landscape as the work’s centerfold

“I think the single most important subject in the world at the moment is climate change. I think any other subject sits underneath it in terms of importance. If we don’t find a solution or address climate change like adults, then nothing else is really as important.

We won’t be around to worry about anything else. Therefore Indonesia is a really interesting place because I think all of its relationship to its environment, there’s a lot of politics and money, and interesting complications. So we want to look at what it meant to have a country that’s so diverse and so vast, and in many ways is at the forefront of climate change.

Bits of Indonesia is already under water, as you know, and there’s going to be even more so. So I think for us it was about how do we start addressing that. So what we’re trying to do is to suggest and look at people’s relationship to their environment, and how they participate in it, and perceive it, and how we can capture, represent, and therefore maintain those environments. We’re trying to have a conversation about that.”

On the presentation of Nada Bumi

“We made acrylic tubes. There are five big tubes and then lots of plants, some are rigged up with sensors so when people touch them they’ll react and make sounds. Each tube represents one ecosystem. There’s one that represents Pink Beach, where the body of water is lit to be pink but when people come closer it dims. Because that’s kind of what is happening at the beach. People are going there so much, the pink of the sand is bleaching.

For the acrylic tube that represents Bromo, we put an actual volcanic rock from the top.

There’s also volcanic ash that we put on top of the speaker. So when you play the music from the volcano on that speaker, the ash creates these really interesting patterns which kind of mimic the landscape of Bromo. And when you touch it, it rumbles even more. Underneath that we have layers of more ash, some rocks, and water vapor to kind of recreate the smoke of the volcano. So we’re kind of representing and re-representing the ecosystem that we found, and creating an interaction.”

On collaborating with Digital Nativ

“We have similar approaches to things. We have similar mentalities, we get on very well as people, which I think is really important.  I suppose the working culture is slightly different, there’s definitely limitation but I think it’s just about finding different structures and different ways of working together. But most collaborations are like that, I think. Collaborations are about finding different ways to work with people.”

On the relationship between arts and technology

“I think for me talking about art and technology as two separable things is simply not reasonable anymore. There’s no way that anybody’s art is not in some way built or made with technology. It just depends on how the role that technology plays in the critical discussion of the work. So even a painter at some point uses their iPhone to take photographs or probably use an email to communicate. So they’re sort of inseparable.

But for us, we’re interested in technology as part of the critical medium of the work. We’re using technology to achieve things that only technology could allow us to do, like sensor readings on plants or digital sound works or movements and motors. And we’re interested about the juxtaposition of the digital with the natural, and how the contradictions that are inherent in the work, and the complexity of discussing the fragility of nature and climate change through technology.

Having a creative practice that is technologically driven, but trying to make ecological work is what we’re very interested in.”

Download Nada Bumi booklet here!