Fast in slow motion ( work in progress )


Aii Wijayanti Anik & Ikbal Lubys (duo)

Description of the artistic concept

Palm oil is a slow moving liquid, but many things are moving and changing very fast due palm oil production, changing the environment, social, political, economic, people’s mindset, habit, and life. Ironically, as the largest producer of palm oil in the world, Indonesia uses only 20% of its production, but our community is the ones who receive the greatest impact directly. Palm oil is a very big dilemma, on the one hand it is very useful and needed by the world, on the other hand it is a regional disaster that can become a global disaster. Apart from economic reasons as the world demand for palm oil is very high, palm oil production especially the conversion of rainforest into plantations and massive deforestation has a number of negative impacts on the environment.

This project based on our research in various places including Kalimantan (the largest island that is home of the largest palm oil plantation and the largest palm oil production) Visually, palm forest looks very interesting, like a very wide, tightly woven carpet. We saw how thousands of hectares of tropical forest were turned into oil palm land, and of course all fauna was also affected by the clearing of land, this became a very complicated problem because it was also related to supplying the needs of the world. Political conflicts between local communities, economic interest groups and politicians over land rights and use also play a big role. Our study of family history and the development of mindset lately, industrial propaganda also changes people’s consumption patterns.

The question is, is the change in consumption patterns deliberately made to increase the demand for palm oil consumption, to be honest this condition is very disturbing to our mind. We also did a research at some traditional markets in our area, almost none of them knew that there was another oil exist to can consumed other than palm oil, they only know palm oil and can only trade palm oil, though there are still several alternative oils other than palm oil with the same function as for example coconut oil which was originally homemade oil, even now almost no one knows or uses it. Unfortunately, one generation has lost knowledge about it.

Functions and technical realization

An interactive visual and sound installation featuring poetry ‘‘Cit..cit..doorr…krekek..‘‘ by Kristiandi Tanumihardja, taken from ‘‘Friction‘‘ book by Anna Haupt Tsing, 2005, shows the impact of palm oil production. The visual, audio, and materials collected during the research arranged on stage, several electronic as a sound sources are installed in the tube that is filled with palm oil and water connected to a mic.  

The poetry itself is verbalizing the sounds that occur in the rain forest habitat, especially sounds related to the process of palm oil production, ranging from cutting trees, sound of heavy equipment, burning forests, expelling or hunting animals, using Indonesian verbalization of writing sounds without any words. Audience can read the poem which is wrote on the wall/board with their each dialect and imagine how rain forest habitat changes as their perceptions. Of course the result of the sound will be different from each reader, it will make the dynamics of sound from each reader who has a different interpretation and way of reading.

The microphones are connected to electronic devices where the signal coming from audience who read the poem will be captured by the microphone and forwarded to the audio interface to process and manipulate the sound and the signal is forwarded into two pieces tube containing palm oil and water. A sound signal will trigger the motor which is installed under the tube containing oil and water, the motor moves according to the strength of the sound signal current sent created dynamic movements in the oil and water which produces a visually aesthetically appealing texture.

Since the characteristics of palm oil  visually is a thick and slow liquid, the sound-producing movements of the oil will look like slow motion, but the electronic instruments will produce sound textures that are very fast. Behind the viscous, slow nature of palm oil, are the rapid processes of destruction of our planet, its environment, and its cultures. The first prototype of this work was created during an artist residency program at PACT Zollverein, Essen, Germany May 2022 and selected to be presented at Claiming Common Spaces Festival July 2022.

This installation will also be developed into other and performative forms, one of which is by utilizing the capillarity of oil, a wide piece of cloth will be hung with pictures and writings on it and will be immersed in a container filled with oil, which will then seep the oil upward. cloth and hit the images and writing on the cloth, the material used to draw and write on the cloth is a different material, materials that are insoluble in oil and materials that are soluble in oil.

we have mapping data for areas of tropical forest that have changed their function to become oil palm plantations, areas that have changed their function are drawn using materials that are soluble in palm oil, so that when the capilatiary of palm oil rises the mapped area has changed its function from tropical forest to oil palm plantation land will be erased and melted with oil and create different textures and motifs.

for the performance we also developed the idea into a sound performance  where the artist dive into a large tube filled with palm oil and play electronic sounds while interjecting, this will make a slow body movement because they are in palm oil but produce sound at a fast tempo.