Other Review

Other Review is a digest of findings that casts light on design process, contemporary ideas and creative inspiration. Through communication, we aim to examine the importance of design piece by piece.

By Each Other Company
November 30, 2018

Following the previous #OnPaperJakarta exhibition, we asked each of its exhibitors to share with us their experiences and challenges regarding to building an artwork based on a single material, which is paper. The exhibitors are Artnivora (A), Ceres Lau (C), Dua Studio (D), Grafis Huru Hara (G) and Tommy Ambiyo Tedji (T).

As one of the exhibitors of #OnPaperJakarta, what does paper mean to you?

A: Paper is an important physical substance which the tactile quality people tend to forget.

C: Paper means and has everything to do with my life. Different medium carry different significance. Paper for me, is a canvas to express myself. It is simply magical how a simple everyday object, once cut, torn, sculpted and layered can turn into something so beautiful. And I want to show that to the world.

D: We see paper as the most subtle material where our imagination can start.

G: Paper is a medium that is very important to us in making an artwork. Ever since childhood, we’ve been used to drawing. Now as printmakers, understanding paper in detail is essential. Every piece of paper has their own characteristics, and choosing the right type and color of paper affects the end result of our work. The treatment of paper also alters the longevity, such as learning/catering to the paper’s natural behaviour.

T: Paper was my starting point. I used tearproof and waterproof tyvek for my fashion brand, Byo’s, first collection in 2010.

What did you create? Tell us what do you want to convey.

A: I created a book series titled the “Not Book Series”. It was an exploration based on an unconventional book that was defined by context not content, form not function.

C: An installation art comprising of 3 individual pieces, depicting the process of finding and achieving the flow, a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. It is a consciousness of satisfaction that can also be apprehended as a constant meditative movement. Inspired by various patterns, structures and shapes found in plants, organisms and cells; the combination found in nature to create work that explores the balance, harmony and connectivity of the flow to life.

Personally, finding the flow is like blooming of a seed to a flower, a growth similar to that of plants and all other creation of mother nature. Using white coloured papers, it expresses the process: unnoticeable, something that we can feel but couldn't see, yet it is of something that is already there waiting to be unfold.

D: We created a collection of delicate vertical lines (column, totem) that could define a particular spatial quality. We want to invite visitors to use their senses to experience the space, through a scene where a fragile and delicate material could be set up vertically.

G: For #OnPaperJakarta, our artwork was inspired by our own personal experiences as artists when dealing with reading references as well as the way people read.

T: I designed a new modular textile system inspired by my research on the 19th century Sumatran textile. I wanted to show a different possibility of a craftsmanship based on a certain culture.

How did you create your artwork?

A: I worked with my trusted printer, Harapan Prima, who gave me access to the cutting and binding machineries. I shared with them my initial ideas about the dimension and thickness of the books, and then improvised the final artworks after going through the process.

C: I did loads of rough sketches, finalized them to detailed ones and then sorting out the different parts of the art piece (numbering them if I must, so I wouldn’t mix it up during the making process). I would trace the selected sketch over to papers of my choice, cut out the traced pieces, and start the making, changing the composition along the way.

From sketching to making the actual artwork, everything was done manually by hand and individually, with little close to zero help from any technology as it gives me more freedom to create.

D: During the process, we tested the possibilities and performance of each paper. We tested some joints, folding techniques, using water as one of the methods. In the end, we came up with some characters that evoke an interesting experience and atmosphere, like a volumetric cone, a 2 mm thin line, a floating line, and a line that touches the ceiling in a very soft, wobbly way.

G: We translated the concept of reading and readability through printmaking techniques. Just like the human point-of-view, each print has their own characteristics. Although they might look alike, the details of every print are not/never the same. We combined manual and matrix print techniques to form visuals that are similar but have diverse compositions.

T: I did a 2-month research and experimentation of paper, and then proceeded to the design assembly for another month. All the paper was firstly machine-cut, and later on was handwoven.

How did the curatorial approach affect you when developing your ideas?

A: It was good to have a partner who is open-minded and pushed the envelope towards something different throughout the process.

C: The approach was both reflective and sensitive. It constantly had me thinking and rethinking, helping me to execute on my best ideas.

D: For us the curatorial statement is interesting, to start from reading. We did a short research based on some theories, and it brought us to some interesting explorations of possibilities.

G: We usually process the concept into a narration, and then we develop it with visual elements that best represent our concept for the exhibit.

T: I designed a new modular textile system inspired by my research on the 19th century Sumatran textile. I wanted to show a different possibility of a craftsmanship based on a certain culture.

What was the challenge of creating your artwork?

A: The challenge was to create a powerful artwork with only a series of books, rather than a gigantic one. It is undeniable that the scale of the artwork is important to build someone’s perception.

C: Knowing when to stop and finding the perfect balance. When creating a piece hands on, the result always differs; unexpected, uncontrollable and imperfect in many ways, yet the inefficiency is what makes it perfect in every sense.

D: The challenge was to construct the vertical line that starts from a modular size of paper (64 x 97 cm), and the joinery details between one sheet of paper and another.

G: In the process of creating the works, especially as a collective, the alignment/agreement of the concept and visuals require a long process since every individual has their own ego and perspectives when interpreting the aesthetic elements.

T: Time. And the assembly part was harder than I expected.

#OnPaperJakarta aims to raise the awareness of reading culture around our community, especially here in Jakarta. How important reading is to you and how does it influence your practice?

A: To me, reading (text) is important, but in many cases in my practice I approach reading visually.

C: I used to read a lot, but that came to a halt when I started shifting my focus onto work. Through this exhibition however, it has encouraged me to once again pick up my books and read more. Reading is, to me, not only a source of knowledge but more importantly, it’s a form of meditation to the mind. It is fundamental, an essential “art” form in life that everyone can somewhat relate to.

Reading makes me think, doubt and ask questions, it expands my imagination. Even after all that, I felt like it has brought me an immense inner peace and tranquility, and that is extremely crucial to what I do.

D: We always try to spare time to read. We feel that reading and research could balance imagination and practice. One of our next agenda is to have something that relates to reading.

G: As artists, our “reading” sense is needed to read things that are invisible to the eye, so we always read everything in our daily lives, from the most important to the most trivial, from breaking news to celebrity gossip on Instagram.

T: Reading has become more important than ever in a time when everything is instant.

How do you read? Do you read text or image/visual?

A: In school I tried to read “Lima Sekawan” by Enid Blyton but I was never able to finish it. During my masters degree I tried to read Jacques Derrida, and I just recently found from Wikipedia that he was born on the same month as me.

Unless important to me, reading something written never interest me, but I’ve always found it intriguing to be able to ‘read’ the visual, it is more than what is written.

C: I think, it depends? There are times when I would refer to the visuals, to understand and interpret them in my own way. However, there are times too when I prefer reading texts over images, and just go crazy with the imaginations. Either way is fun and intriguing.

D: We love to read painting, text, and spatial experience as our references.

G: Reading image/visual is more effective to us, but reading text is more accurate. You could read both depending on what’s necessary.

T: Both. If I don’t understand an image instantly, I would do more research.

Tell us about the reading reference/s in your particular artwork? What did you learn after creating an artwork using paper through this exhibition?

A: I just got “The Brutalist” book by Theseus Chan. It is a physical book that you can only ‘read’ with your own knowledge, to feel and process it with your own ideas. A quite similar approach with what I did (for the “Not Book Series”).

C: “Flow”, a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychological philosopher which is based on the premise that happiness levels can be shifted through the introduction of ‘the flow’, a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.

Paper has always been my primary medium ever since I first discovered it. Nonetheless even after years of experience, I don’t consider myself a pro, I am just like everyone else, still learning and exploring this mundane material. Through this exhibition however, I have discovered new possibilities and it also made me realized that even though paper has so many limitations, it also offered a lot of potentials if you could just go against the restrictions.

D: Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa. “Meandering through phenomenology—the philosophical study of experience—Pallasmaa argues for a holistic architecture, one that considers not only the way spaces look, but the way they feel; for haptic qualities that quicken the pulse, for silence that brushes the nape of one’s neck or, as excerpted here, for spaces that impact all five senses of the human body.”

In Vertical Monopoly, we would like to explore further on what Pallasmaa has stated in the book, about haptic and experiencing an architecture/space that should evoke all senses of the human body by using paper material.

G: Starting from the general theme of the exhibition about reading references and literature, we tried to dig further for meaning, definition and composition from the word literature itself. Finally, we studied new things about the meaning of literacy and tried to reinterpret it through the works that we made.

Because we were used to using paper as a medium, there wasn’t as much new things that we learned, but the most exciting thing was getting the opportunity to meet artists from different disciplines and seeing their perspective about the use of paper as a medium for art.

T: It was hard to find extensive research on Indonesian textiles. The data I found is mostly from private collectors and very few passionate researchers.

How far do you see paper could go into design or any other artistic practice?

A: Although competing with digital, paper still has its own followers.

C: Paper isn’t just something to put art on, it is also a form of art itself. The possibilities of paper is unlimited.

D: We love to explore and seek further possibilities of each material. Paper, as a unique material; thin, fragile, yet fun, has a lot of potentials to create new ambience/atmospheric space.

G: I think paper as a medium is irreplaceable in the world of art and design. I feel that campaigns for reducing paper aren’t really that popular in the arts industry because paper has an important role, from being a medium for sketching and print, to simple crafts and installation. The idea of gadgets or other mediums replacing paper isn’t capable of substituting the characteristics and bond between artists and paper as a medium. Print media could possibly experience a significant decline due to changing times, but paper factories will never cease to exist because artists need paper.

T: Quite far. Endless possibilities.

Name one person or figure that you wish could see your artwork?

A: My dad.

C: That one person would be my late father. Having to find paper art and doing what I do now, I considered it as a lifelong gift given to me from him, and is forever grateful for that.

D: Roger Bundschuh

G: The President of Indonesia

T: Jony Ive

Inspired by Further Reading, #OnPaperJakarta is a Colorplan (UK) exhibition in collaboration with RJ Paper (Singapore), curated by Each Other Company (Indonesia). The exhibition aims to trigger the interdisciplinary collaboration among creatives around the South East Asia, and to promote reading through the exploration of paper, that is fully sponsored by G . F Smith (UK).

27 October–17 November 2018
RUBANAH Underground Hub
Wisma Geha, Basement
Jl. Timor No.25
Menteng, Jakarta Pusat 10350 (map)


Other Review past interviews:
Dua Studio on Sunyata at the Biennale Architertura 2018 by Each Other Company
The Insiders: Putty Dewikarina by Januar Rianto
Felicia Budi on Less Waste by Immanuel-Johannes Palar

Other Review is published in Jakarta by Each Other Company.
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