Edouard Malingue Gallery (Shanghai) is pleased to present “LLIMIIINALL”, the first solo exhibition in Mainland China by the Indonesian collective, Tromarama. Stemming from the word “liminal”, which refers to the crossing of a threshold, the exhibition highlights our subconscious blur that straddles reality and the virtual realm – one that flaunts its unconditional reliance on social media. On display are works that combine art and digital technologies to materialise deposits of algorithms, creating a liminal space that simultaneously surrounds – and is surrounded by – the continuum between data and our consciousness of the world.
Initiating as a collective in 2006 in Bandung, Indonesia, Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena and Herbert Hans have been developing interactive reflections on the contemporary fluxes of urban culture. The trio met while studying at the Institute Technology of Bandung. Students in respectively graphic design, advertising and printmaking, they came together for the “traumatic” creation of ‘Serigala Militia’ (2006) – a stop motion animation film made of hundreds of woodcut plywood boards – hence the moniker of the visual art collective, which combines the anecdote with the Greek word (h)órāma for “view”.
This initial foray prompted years of creating playful, enigmatic stop motion animations but Tromarama’s body of work has equally extended to video, installation, computer programming and public participation. At the heart of their varied practice is the notion of hyperreality in the digital age: how our perceptive engagement with the world is continuously shaped by the interrelationship between the virtual and the physical.
Indonesia ranks as one of the most populous countries in the world uniting various ethnicities, languages, religions and cultural influences spanning its 17,000 islands. The cultural fabric of the country informs the work of Tromarama, who are part of a first generation of artists to be confronted with the impact of the digital revolution in Indonesia during the early 2000’s. As such, their practice literally animates the ordinary and weaves its existence into a tale of tribulations fuelled by consequence.
This exhibition spells out, over a series of installations, videos and two-dimensional works, Tromarama’s inventive response to the Internet and social media. ‘Soliloquy’ (2018), for instance, collates user activity on Twitter to reconfigure 96 lamps sourced from a flea market: each time the hashtag “#kinship” is used the tweet is converted into a binary code, prompting the lamps to flicker.
Similarly involving public participation through social media, Living Apparatus (2019) replaces actual lamps with an LCD screen and uses the hashtags (“#lit” and “#lumen”) to animate the phantasm on display. As a proxy for the consequence of living between two realms, the nature of light is redefined by our arbitrary, digital engagement with the word. Such consequence, from Tromarama’s point of view, is more of a mental experience than a physical one, in the sense that it bends the scenes from our daily lives in relation to how it creates and “animates” artificial desires.
‘Selfghosted’ (2019) is a series of lenticular prints conceived from collated data following the hashtag “#selfportrait”. Each character in the tweet is converted into a binary code, which is then translated into an RGB colour code. A reference to the Internet’s anonymity, ‘Selfghosted’ hints at the way we “translate” reality into various versions of our self-identity and feeds them into an endless chain of reactions.
At the heart of social media is the creation of an inclusive narrative through the use of hashtags, each keyword weaving its iteration into the larger fabric of our collective conscious. Channeling man’s ambivalence towards technology, “LLIMIIINALL” puts into context the incorporation of technology into our bodies and minds, and explores how this interaction – increasingly tending towards one side – restructures our existential experience vis-à-vis shifting interpersonal relationships, one that is loaded with associations and representations that are, if anything, liminal.
Tromarama is Bandung based artist collective founded in 2006 by Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans and Ruddy Hatumena. Engaging with the notion of hyperreality in the digital age, their projects explore the interrelationship between the virtual and the physical world. Their works combine video, installations, computer programming and public participation depicting the influence of digital media on the society’s perception towards their surroundings. They have held solo exhibitions at the Liverpool Biennial Fringe; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Mori Art Museum, Japan among other locations. Their group exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD) Manila, Gwangju Biennale, Frankfurter Kunstverein; Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide; APT 7 QAGOMA, Brisbane; and the Singapore Art Museum.