“MEDIA/ART KITCHEN: Reality Distortion Field”
Assembled from the seven countries of Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam — each with differing histories and traditions, and each with distinct political, economic and cultural situations — the 13 curators of this project have collaborated on developing an exhibition questioning the nature of Media / Art today, which will further evolve through each of its presentations in the cities of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Bangkok.
At a time when under the banner of globalization all manner of information technology has transcended national borders to enter into people’s lives, and has no small effect on how those lives play out, today’s constantly updating media environment has generated unprecedented new spheres of economics and culture. While it could become the impetus for a major revolution, this situation also carries with it the risk of expanding new forms of oppression and disparity.
Moreover, between Japan and the constituent nations of ASEAN, as well as between the four cities hosting the exhibition, there are stark differences in social context and the positioning in those contexts of “media” and “art.” As suggested by the relationships that have developed between the curators and artists participating in this project, the exploration of mutual differences both large and small also brings with it the necessity of working together — and at times with exhibition visitors as well — to establish new standards of value.
Eschewing presumptions of a predetermined genre of so-called “media art,” rather than being categorized by the use of advanced technology and channels of circulation/reception, this project departs from the new formulation “Media / Art” (media that is also art), which, with its insertion of a slash between media and art, can now be reinterpreted as “that which mediates and its technology.” What kind of art can we realize, and how can we live creatively, based on an understanding of our constantly transforming media and our relations to that media?
We want to depict the unfolding present, and the prospect of the coming future, in which these concerns are indeed so pressing.
For example, when thinking about the establishment of a rich food culture, the platform for that cuisine’s emergence is not necessarily limited to professional kitchens filled with expensive equipment and rare ingredients. Even developing from accessible ingredients rooted in the everyday environment and simple preparation equipment, there are no few examples of cuisines, produced through flexible imagination and creativity, which have been so flavorful as to overturn established values.
Far from the so-called hi-tech “media art” first established through the integration of cutting-edge technology, expensive equipment and specialized knowledge in programming, it is the works and projects rooted in a kind of DIY spirit, which adaptively make use of the environments and resources at hand and are produced through flexible creativity and independent experimentation with technology, which provide the most insight into the knowledge required for creative living and its possibilities, as well as into the questions of how to define media and how to understand what media is capable of producing.
Thus, in this project, the exhibition itself is conceived as a kind of “kitchen,” a creative platform that can be generated anywhere in response to all manner of situations and environments, and used by anybody in response to necessity. Not only a “display of works” inspired by the different “cooking methods” and “palates” of the artists, the project also becomes a “workshop” for more deeply understanding the context behind the works and media, and a “laboratory,” or site for visitors themselves to enjoy creation and expression on their own terms.
What we have conceived is a “kitchen” combining these three pillars.
Even if one could not access expensive equipment, or special technology and knowledge, with an experimental and courageous mind, and with the addition of “spicy” creative thinking and twists, there is surely an “art” capable of producing a cuisine that has never before been seen or tasted.
Believing in this, what we are attempting through “Media / Art Kitchen” is to produce a kind of miraculous distortion field where the impossible becomes the possible.