INSITU.ASIA is a collaborative process with a collective of artists that is situated in the context of two dialectical situations: corporeal perception in a time of virtual information and fragmentary subcultures in a connected global community. Using an actual situation to intersect elements from its broader context, INSITU.ASIA is worked out by cross-disciplinary artists (from various originating places) traveling to a destination, to make maps out of their respective on-site encounters. The process continues as these maps are presented in a print publication and public performance.

By setting up a situation in which artists travel to a 'foreign' place and map out their journeys, INSITU.ASIA confronts the centrality of artists in the artistic process; to paraphrase Gombrich's famous words: there is no art, only artists. At a glance, in a time of proliferating budget travels and self-broadcast digital travelogues (online photographs and videos), INSITU.ASIA suggests a mainstream process, a banal act that is performable by most. Yet by tasking artists to perform INSITU.ASIA, our preposition is that a process is made artistic by virtue of the artist, not vice versa. In other words, INSITU.ASIA is interested to present the transformative effect the artist has on its subject matter.

INSITU.ASIA draws out the premise that being on-site is about being in two places: origination and destination; each being perceived and interpreted in the context of the other. It is within this premise that an artistic dialogue between the perceptional and the informational relationships between the artist and a site is set up. In today's highly informational cultural context, the artist is invited to perceptually establish an impression of a place (in relation to where he/she originates) by being physically in that place and to subsequently make an Artist Map that essentially, is a two-part travelogue: of being away from origination when on-site at destination and vice-versa when he/she is back.

Aesthetic or rather, its etymological root in perceptibility, is central to the Artist Maps. The artist is to produce his/her map using the speechless yet perceptible aesthetic language in the cultural context of information overload. In 'The Aesthetic Dimension', Marcuse strongly argued for the political edge that the aesthetic literature possess over explanatory prose. Extending this artistic dialogue between the implicit perceptibility of the aesthetic object and the explicit interpretability of descriptive information is a task for the artist; the making of maps being the situation or part of the process through INSITU.ASIA to facilitate the dialogue.

Fragmenting yet highly interconnected, the contemporary global culture is one where any subcultural deviation can successfully connect to its niche base online. This culture is situated through INSITU.ASIA in the form of multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural artists congregating in a place and subsequently, once separated, each with an idiosyncratic version of a shared memory, making potentially disparate Artist Maps that are of various expressions of the same place. By doing so, we are highlighting a particular condition that is available in the conceptual space for art production today. A condition that for some reason, allows for the dialectical co-existence of fragmentary postmodern ideologies with those of totality and unification found in modernism. It is within this condition that INSITU.ASIA chooses to situate its process for the artist to make art.

If the condition for making art through INSITU.ASIA is situated within the broad dialectical context of fragmentary and interconnectivity, so is the space that is made out for third-party (audience) engagement. The formats for INSITU.ASIA travelogues is a microcosm, by virtue of their private and public nature, of this same dialogue. The product types (publication and performance) is essentially generating two spaces for audience to engage with the art object: the separatist private space (publication) and the connective public event (performance); both being self-contained yet incomplete without the other.

At this point of INSITU.ASIA, an artistic process that had started from multiple sites (originations), traveling into a central site (destination), one that is worked out in the public (being on-site) and privately (making the Artist Map), is symmetrically mirrored by the art object's mode of presentation: in the public and in a central site (performance) and in private at multiple sites (publication).


Boedi Widjaja
October 2010