Two-channel video installation, 13’, 2019
Commissioned by the 2019 Singapore Biennale in collaboration with KADIST as part of Frequency of Tradition, curated by Hyunjin Kim, a three-year series of seminars, commissions, and exhibitions taking place across Asia.
This work premiered on November 19th, 2019 in the Singapore Biennale.Stones and Elephants is derived from the Malay classic The Hikayat Abdullah. The author Abdullah, who once served as the secretary of Resident William Farquhar, chronicled his life in Malaysia and published his writings in 1849. This art piece excerpted two chapters from this literary classic to serve as narration. 'Melaka Fort' depicts how the British destroyed the strong fortress to weaken Malacca and return control of the region to the Dutch East India Company. In the next chapter, Abdullah describes the locals, William Farquhar and his interest in ecology, especially the scene of hiring a Malay shaman to order a round-up of elephants.
In this piece, the artist invited a Malay shaman to read these two stories in Malay as a voice-over and to pray for a peaceful filming trip. The rituals were held in two places. The first was located in the atrium inside the Malacca Museum of History and Ethnology. This was William Farquhar's office area in Malacca at that time, where he conducted official business. The other was on the grass near the transmission tower, using an airborne drone. The unique perspective offered by the drone allowed, on the one hand, the drone and the transmission tower to serve complementary roles as tools of photography. On the other hand, the tower also fulfilled an anthropomorphic role in the film, creating a unique relationship between the human (the Malay shaman) and the non-human (the drone). Apart from the pictures taken by the drone, other materials are also included in the piece. The first is the elephant mentioned in The Hikayat Abdullah, and another is the transmission tower near the museum. The drone depends on the tower as the source of its signals, but the drone also cannot venture too close to the tower for fear of signal interference.
This work is a two-channel video installation. During the exhibition, it must be connected to the Internet for visitors to search for keywords related to this work. Changes to the network and visitors’ daily lives will occur as the exhibition goes on, and consequently, the contents and results of the online searches will also become different. This networking technology corresponds strongly with the network between the transmission tower and the drone in the film. However, it is also unknown whether the story in the narration happened in actuality. The artist can only use technology and the Internet as a vessel for memories. As stated in the narration, 'all these have passed, showing that everything is such fragile.' Algorithms ensure that every keyword search will show different results, presenting a bit of truth among the uncertainty of this work. Through this, an attempt is made to retrace historical scenes that have been lost to time.
本作品由2019新加坡雙年展委託製作。協同卡蒂斯特藝術基金會發展合作計畫Frequency of Tradition，此為Hyunjin Kim策劃的三年期計畫，將於亞洲地區舉行一系列研討會、藝術委託計劃和展覽。
在這件創作中，藝術家請到馬來巫師以馬來文朗讀此兩段故事做為畫外音，並為拍攝過程祈福。祈福的地點有二，其一位於現在馬六甲歷史與民族學博物館內的中庭，此處為威廉・法誇爾當時在麻六甲的辦公室區域。其二則是鄰近電塔的草地上，透過空拍機的特殊視點，一方面空拍機與電塔相輔相成做為攝影機具，另一方面也是作為影片中擬人化的演員，形成人（馬來巫師）與非人（空拍機）之間的交流。除了空拍機所拍攝的畫面，還包括了不同的素材，其一是在《阿都拉傳》中提到的動物 - 大象，其二是在博物館附近的電塔。電塔作為訊號來源，既是空拍機訊號傳輸的依賴對象，卻又不能與其距離太近以免受到干擾。