Early Internet Art in Malaysia 6

In 1998, I made my 2nd web art work titled La Folie de la Peinture (The Madness of Painting), fragments of which are archived on the Wayback Machine site. This was a comprehensive, if condensed, articulation of my critique of the movement from modernist abstraction, via conceptualism, to the photographic ontology of postmodern installation and performance art. My own practice had been evolving along this trajectory until, in the mid 1990’s, I found the World Wide Web with its capacities for instantaneous connectivity, hypertextual linking and multimedia convergence. La Folie de la Peinture was featured in the 2nd Multimedia Asia Pacific Festival (MAAP) 1999,: COLLAPSING GEOGRAPHIES online exhibition which was part of the Third Asia Pacific Triennial, Screen Culture and Virtual Triennial program.

The opening image of this navigational work was a direct flatbed scan of a bottle of Cuvée Tradition French wine that we had recently consumed. The two hyperlinked hotspots on the image that took the user through to the rest of the work were a ‘black square’ and the word ‘ZIP‘, references to the endgame in American hard-edged abstraction. Black square took the user through to a set of photographic images, remediated documentation, of an installation made at the Tower House Studios, Goldsmith’s college, London in 1991. These images were linked in such a manner as to enable a simulation of the navigation of the space and the experience of each ‘work’ in the new web ‘space’ as a reinterpretation in multimedia for online viewing. This part of the web work was augmented with physical objects from the original installation and a new desktop VR interface, when La Folie de la Peinture was presented at the Substation, Singapore in 2001 in a two-person show with Joe Lewis titled, Layers … Reality … Memory.

ZIP‘ took the user through to a modified image of a vulgar performative intervention I made in 1995. at the site of Bernard Tchumi’s architectural reification of the deconstructive ethos at the Parc de la Vilette, Paris.

https://web.archive.org/web/19990826231718/http://www.kunstseiten.de/installation/

https://www.maap.org.au/exhibition/maap-1999-collapsing-geographies/

http://tschumi.com/projects/3/


Koboi Balik Kampung (2013)

Koboi Balik Kampung, Readymade Rockmount Western Shirt, 2013. Permanent Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. (The image above is from an installation and performance at the National Visual Art Gallery in 2018).

The Koboi Balik Kampung (2013) Readymade from the permanent collection of the National Visual Art Gallery in KL is currently on display at the gallery. This item was a residual artifact from a performance at the Aliran Semasa symposium held at the gallery in 2013. This performance marked my Malaysian homecoming after ten years away in Western Canada.

I appeared at the event wearing a brand-new Rockmount Western shirt with tags intact. As the symposium began, my mother the late Sathiavathy Deva Rajah was invited on stage, to give me a traditional Indian/ Hindu blessing by placing chanthanam (sandalwood paste) and kunggumum (red turmeric powder) on my forehead. Then, facing the audience, I remove the shirt, draped it on a pre-installed hanger at the back of the stage and my mother consecrated it with the same chanthanam and kunggumum. The shirt was left hanging for the duration of the symposium and then presented to the gallery.

A version of the Performance was repeated in an intervention when the item was on show for the first time as a selection from the collection of the National Visual Art Gallery in 2018. My Mother and I were stopped from renewing the markings on the shirt by a curator and a conservator from the gallery. We debated notions of completion of an art work, ownership of an artwork, the artist’s rights to modify an artwork, the extensive conservational bureaucracy that encompases a work of art in a National collection and the effects of all of these on the state of an art work (is it active or is it inert, alive or dead!). Mother and I proceed with the portion of our ritual that did not interfere with what is now the property of the gallery. The image above was captured by my daughter Durga Rajah during this performance.