Walking Down the Roads Where I Have Been & The Birth of ‘Tanpa Tajuk’: A Mind Installation
I developed an interest in words and sentences as ideas for making art in the mid 1990s. At the time, I was heavily disturbed by the questions of identity, or in another way, how should I appropriated(or should I?) my traditional Malay esthetics in the modern Western forms: What I was doing with the traditional Malay forms on the forms that looked like the Henry Moore’s and Constantin Brancusi’s (Teleng Series), as well as Alberto Giacometti’s (Gunung Daik Series)? I was also pursuing my graduate studies then, and the academic readings (and other readings, of course) and the discourses made me critical on myself as an artist. I was studying Art & Design Education, and chose to do a Research by Practice study for my final dissertation.
I have been a writer since my younger days. I like to read stories and felt that I too can write. I took notes. I bought a typewriter – and I wrote/typed millions of words and sentences in the forms of letters, stories, essays and poetry, of which were useless and useful but now many were lost; but they were the words and sentences. Mastura bought me a computer then – I wrote/typed again millions of words and sentences in the many forms, of which were useless and useful, and which were composed into an irregular self-published journal I called Tanpa Tajuk.
I typed words and sentences using the Adobe PageMaker, made simple computer drawings or photocopied original sketches, and print them out… page by page, arranged and stapled them. Then I would be around exhibitions’ opening receptions (especially at the then near KTM’s Balai Seni Lukis Negara) with some 20 copies of Tanpa Tajuk, catching up with friends and asked them to give me RM2 or RM4 for a copy. On certain occasions, I invited friends to illustrate Tanpa Tajuk front covers, like what was on the ‘Edisi Prapenerbitan 2 / November 1995’ as illustrated down below. It was from a drawing done by Ahmad Shukri Elias.
The words and sentences I wrote were laden with endless and layer-less meanings, though to me they were perhaps personal interpretations and assessments of what were happening and how I was responding. They, the words and sentences, offer endless and layer-less meanings and should be able to attract some concerns from audience that experience the words and sentences portrayed (or simply, the words and sentences are manifestations or images from events experienced by me, as the artist, and the other person, as the audience).
I developed the understanding aforementioned, concerning words and sentences though there’s nothing new here, into what I called a mind-installation. A mind-installation lives in an imaginary space. It is in ambiguity and there existed lots of subjectivities. Meditations on mind-installation brought me to John Dewey’s ideas on art as experience. I read John Dewey and started also to develop interests in other disciplines such as education and cultural anthropology (apart from literature and esthetics).
The previous week, I surfed John Dewey and found as quoted here from http://www.lotsofessays.com/ …In his theory of art, John Dewey emphasizes the importance of continuity within the art object. In this regard, Dewey seems to be insisting that organic unity is the essence of all aesthetic experiences. According to Dewey, a work of art is an experience in which meanings or values “are expressed, or shown, rather than stated or said” (Bernstein, 1966, p. 156). As such, art stimulates an experience which can be said to be “qualitative” in nature (Pepper, 1939, p. 375). Dewey considers art to be a very special kind of experience, or consummatory experience. A consummatory experience can be defined as one which is both fulfilling and satisfying. In his 1934 book Art as Experience, Dewey claims: “Such an experience is a whole and carries with it its own individualizing quality and self-sufficiency” (p. 35). Bernstein relates the consummatory experience to art by describing consummations as “the direct aesthetic enjoyment of immediate qualities” (1966, p. 151). Dewey claims that such experiences are “intrinsically worthwhile” (“Art as Experience,” 1934, p. 37). Rockefeller takes this perspective a step further by stating: “Such consummatory experiences are what make life worthwhile” (1991, p. 396).
Following published are three mind-installations that I used for Tanpa Tajuk front covers.
- Tanpa Tajuk. Jurnal Seni Rupa Kontemporari / Januari 1998 / Edaran Terhad / Untuk kawan-kawan sahaja / RM4.00
- Tanpa Tajuk. Jurnal Seni Rupa Kontemporari / Awal Julai 1998 / Edaran Terhad / Untuk kawan-kawan sahaja / Nombor 2 (1998) / RM2.00
- Tanpa Tajuk. Jurnal Seni Rupa Kontemporari / Julai 1998 / Edaran Terhad / Untuk kawan-kawan sahaja / Nombor 3 (1998) RM2.00
21,000 buah loceng. Angin timur laut. Pantai Air Tawar. Teriakan vokalis kumpulan rok Led Zeppelin. Masin Laut China Selatan di Pantai Batu Buruk. Satu hari di tahun 1975. Kad-kad biru melayang. 25 orang pengakap laut. Teknik mulut ke mulut. Sebuah kabin di puncak Bukit Chendering. Karikatur unta menunggang Anwar Sadat. Sepasang but di hutan Bukit Payong. Kertas-kertas menjadi kuning. Satu hari di tahun 1975. Filem Dracula di dewan sekolah. Hujan dan angin akhir tahun di Pantai Timur Semenanjung. Helang laut melayari angin. Air mata seorang puteri. Botol-botol Magnolia di tepi tingkap kaca. Permainan solo Ritchie Blackmore. Seorang kawan yang kehilangan akal. Sebuah bangsal di dalam hutan Bukit Mok Mek. Bekas-bekas buluh tersusun rapi. Sekeping ukiran kayu gaya Melayu. Rumput-rumput hijau di bawah pohon. Sebentuk cincin hilang tiba-tiba.
…tIME HISSES LIKE A SHOCKED COBRA AND RUNS SWIFTLY CHASING THE SPEEDING PHOENIX HEADING FOR A FARAWAY DESTINATION IN THAT DISTANT DESERT THAT BURNS AND BURNS BRINGING ALONG PARCELS AND PHOTOGRAPHS AND LOVELETTERS FOR THE MANY UNKNOWN SOLDIERS THAT WERE EARLIER HALTED BY THE BARRICADING PATROL BOATS IN THAT POLLUTED BAY OF DEAD SEAGULLS AND ROTTING PIGEONS AND FLOATING FISH WHICH WERE SENT BY HUNDREDS OF POETS FROM ALL EVERYWHERE THAT CHOSE NOT TO GET GUNS AND CANNONS AND BOMBS TO KILL AND ELIMINATE THOUSANDS OF BABIES THAT WAS PROPHOCIED TO BE CRUEL GENERALS AND LEADERS AND KINGS BY UNKNOWN ASTROLOGERS…
inside me inside you
love and hatred
harmony and chaos
organized and disorganized
silent and noisy
static and kinetic
physical and illusion
light and dark
courage and fear
confident and alert and nervous
all of them
they are as old old old as humans
they are as they are they are they are as humans
they are as new new new as humans
as humans as us
as us as humans
they came they stayed they went
they went they stayed they came
we are they they are we
us are they they are us
Later, I thought of making Tanpa Tajuk into a proper publication, something like a monthly, and published by an established publisher. I talked about it to Juhari Muhammad Said (Joe) and he wanted to participate/collaborate by suggesting that we might go and talked to Baha Zain, a known poet and essayist, who also owns a publication house, Pustaka Cipta. We went talking to Baha Zain and he advised us to set up an editorial team. He asked his sons, Joe and Dhojie to participate, looking at perhaps the marketing and such matters of the publication. We operated independently under the name of Jambatan Baru, but nothing official was registered.
The first issue of the now ‘properly managed’ Tanpa Tajuk was well received, I would say. There was a launching of Tanpa Tajuk by the Seniman Negara Syed Ahmad Jamal, as well as an open exhibition also called Tanpa Tajuk, held at the Galeri Shah Alam. Eventually I got bored with the whole thing – waiting for responses and articles from correspondents and writers, negotiations on the graphics and illustrations, and the sales and the marketing and the editorial meetings… and of course the money to get things going! Dhojie tried a hand at asking TH Koid Foundation to partly finance Tanpa Tajuk. TH Koid Foundation has published an art magazine called Art Corridor. The second issue of the ‘properly managed’ Tanpa Tajuk then was financed by the foundation. I was becoming restless with Tanpa Tajuk being partly ‘composed’ by other people and started to revisit my own words and sentences. I played stubborn with the ‘properly managed’ Tanpa Tajuk and eventually it came to its end. Poor ‘properly managed’ Tanpa Tajuk!
The words and sentences kept appearing on my computer’s screen. A few years back, a friend, Riza Nordin, established a publishing house called the Tinta Publishers (http://www.tintapublishers.com/). He asked me if I have anything to publish and I gave him the notes and writings that I have been quietly compiling. Riza proposed for a book, we sat down to work on the words and sentences, and finally came Tanpa Tajuk: Cerita-cerita Seni Rupa in 2009.