Indonesian art trio bend reality in virtual installations

Thoughtful and engaging exhibition plays tricks on viewers by creating ‘third reality’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 5:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 5:00am

Tromarama is a collective of three artists from Bandung, Indonesia – Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena and Herbert Hans – who have worked together since 2006 producing videos and mixed-media installations.

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They have recently completed a stint at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne with “Open House”, replicating an Indonesian home where children can make stop-animation videos with the artists’ multimedia constructions and engage with smartphone apps.

This is the collective’s first exhibition in Hong Kong. Each of the artworks is a subtle exploration of the interplay of the virtual world, as seen on people’s digital screens, and the real physical world.

In “Panoramix”, reality is experienced both physically and virtually through sensory knowledge. Also felt is a “third reality”, an in-between hybrid space that people increasingly experience in contemporary life. It is, as curator Riksa Afiaty explains, “a more subtle border [that] is drawn between our current reality”.

The artists intelligently demonstrate these ideas. The single-channel video, Panoramix, is a projection of a forest within a flat, photographic-like view, but then the entire image is “lifted”, flapping as if blown in the wind.

Of course, this is just the trick of the video, but is a thoughtful demonstration of people’s now oft-experienced virtual reality.

The intriguing Intercourse shows the interplay of two video channels. One is a static television monitor showing a whirling fan. The screen points to a large projection of random objects (plastic cups, napkins, telephone books) that appear to be blown around by the air stream, seemingly through the visual implication of a windy fan.

It is a marvellous video illusion. The mind, however, does not readily acknowledge the reality; this is what the artists refer to as the “border”.

The simplest representation of the virtual versus physical reality is in a series of lenticular prints that shift the seen image as a viewer moves.

In I do the words, “i will never leave you / ever / you and I” move and cross in and over each other. The jumble of words successfully mirrors the confusion of the virtual reality “border”, the main theme of this thoughtful and engaging exhibition.


Tromarama: Panoramix, Edouard Malingue Gallery. Until January 23