Early Internet Art in Malaysia 7

One of the themes of my work in the 1990’s was a reclamation of the international contemporary art discourse from a national perspective. If postmodernism had displaced the hegemony of international of modernism with a disruptive array of regional, national and marginal discourses. While my own work was clearly located within the ambit of this postmodernist deconstruction, I had become disenchanted with its increasingly oppressive orthodoxy. Postmodernism promised an enabling relativity of signification but, by definition, it denied credence to all sign systems that acknowledged a transcendental signified. While this enabled alternative perspectives to rise over the overbearing horizon of modernism. it conflicted with contemporary approaches, like mine, that were grounded in the traditional world-view. As I worked on the protocols of a post-postmodern rapprochement of the traditional and the contemporary, I knew that my first obligation was to make a gesture of defilement.

In my web work of 1998, La Folie de la Peinture (1998), the ZIP‘ hyperlink took the user through to a photograph of an intervention I made in 1995 at the site of architect Bernard Tchumi’s work at the Parc de la Vilette, Paris. Speaking sculpturally, if the modernist work ‘occupies’ the physically empty, semiotically blank and ideologically neutral ‘non-site’ of the gallery or the urban plan, the postmodern work comes off the walls or blueprint and, arguably, ‘constitutes’ its ‘site’. There is no longer an object in view as the postmodern ‘figure’ becomes part of its own ‘ground.’ If the expansion of sculpture into the ‘site’ specific installation had deconstructed the institutional ‘white cube’ of modern art, the purposeless ‘red cubes’ of Bernard Tchumi’s‘ architectural installation, perversely articulate postmodernism’s negative ontology on a monumental scale. Conceived in collaboration with the progenitor of deconstruction himself, Jacques Derrida, and erected under the reactionary auspices of the French state, Tchumi’s follies epitomize the paradox of the 20th Century avant-garde – the inevitable institutionalization of its negative impulse. In my intervention at the site of this intellectually astute yet politically oblivious folly, I pissed on one of these futile structures and all that it seemed to represent!