Bagus Pandega / Indonesia b.1985 / A Diasporic Mythology 2021 / String instruments: Taishogoto, Mandaliong, Balinese Penting, Kecapi Sijobang, Lombok Penting; tea plants (Camellia sinensis), LED screens, motors, solenoids, MIDI Sprout, custom electronic and mechanic system, glass jar, vinyl paper, custom 3D-printed parts, zinc-plated steel, teak wood, copper, acrylic and instrument stand / Dimensions variable / Commissioned for APT10 / Courtesy: The artist and ROH Projects / © Bagus Pandega

Bagus Pandega
A Diasporic Mythology 2021

Not Currently on Display

A Diasporic Mythology is a kinetic and sound installation developed from Bagus Pandega’s interest in the history and circulation of instruments. The artist became fascinated with a particular koto instrument, named a Taishogoto, dating to the Taisho period (1912–26), that he stumbled across in Japan. This particular version of the historical stringed instrument (also known as the Nagoya harp) varied greatly in design from the classical koto by incorporating automation through typewriter-like keys and influenced by Western music structures.

Pandega has scoured Indonesia for instruments that directly resemble the Taishogoto but are considered native to their locations and are commonly used in ritual ceremonies. The installation brings together different examples of these Indonesian instruments — including a Mandaliong, Balinese Penting, Kecapi Sijobang and Lombok Penting — in an arrangement together with a single Japanese Taishogoto and incorporates interviews that the artist conducted with the musicians who play them.

The tea plants symbolise further historical influence of Japan: the first tea plants were brought to Indonesia from Japan by the Dutch in the seventeenth century in an attempt to replicate the success of British tea cultivation in India, as part of a trade that would lead to the colonisation of Indonesia. On a tea branch in the centre of the installation, a series of LED screens show close-up footage of performers in Indonesia, which returns the performers to the sounds of the instruments and their local contexts.

Bagus Pandega’s sculptures and installations are a web of mechanical, sound, light and automated kinetic constructions. The artist builds objects and devices into modular systems that operate as live and active multi-sensory sculptures, and his works reveal a passion for applied technologies and developing narratives around social contexts.

A sense of simplicity underlies the complex set-ups, with wiring and older, pre-digital technologies left deliberately exposed. Each work gives considered focus to particular devices — lights, screens, amplifiers, instruments — as Pandega refines the ways they operate around a network of systems. Recent works have also introduced natural materials, carefully selected not only to contribute to the narrative that underlies the works but also for their biological energy and mechanical triggering potential. Plants and flowers are incorporated in installations, connected through MIDI Sprouts — which convert biodata from plants into music — to trigger instruments and mechanics.

A graduate of the Institut Teknologi Bandung, Pandega is a prominent member of a generation of artists in Bandung who have become known for readily incorporating technologies and experimental practices in their works, in contrast to other Indonesian art centres that are commonly associated with more traditional representational, political and collective practices.

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