Dwelling in Perennial Dreams
Interactive installation by Bundith Phunsombatlert
April 14-May 27, 2011
Special Preview: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Location One is pleased to present Dwelling in Perennial Dreams, an installation by Thai artist Bundith Phunsombatlert. The installation will be open for a special preview on March 30, from 6:30-8:30pm for Asian Contemporary Art Week.
Dwelling in Perennial Dreams is an interactive installation. This work invites the audience to imagine caring for orphaned babies in Thailand. Several cradles, each holding two TV monitors placed screen side up, play videos of the upper and lower part of a baby sleeping. Each baby sleeps for 15 minutes, then wakes up and cries. The audience participates by rocking the cradles to put the babies back to sleep. The audience can also wake the baby up if they make a loud noise; sensors pick up any noises from the audience and jolt and wake the babies. Furthermore, one crying baby can wake the other babies, showing how we are all interconnected in a community.
A political issue in Thailand inspires Dwelling in Perennial Dreams, but one that is equally applicable internationally in different ways and dimensions. The artwork represents the space where people from the upper class often control the way of lives of lower class people through the metaphor of taking great care of babies, by putting them to sleep. While sleeping is a necessary part for babies to grow up physically and mentally, the process of the work is to make the babies go to sleep as long as possible in order not to face the real world. This contradictory discourse is the subject of the artwork. By pacifying babies, people are simultaneously calming and oppressing them at the same time.
This new media artwork uses the old mechanism of a cradle to invite the audience to participate in the installation and also describe the story of how a group of babies is taken care of by a volunteer pregnant woman and the audience act as performers. The artwork transfers the story of two species of birds from a popular Thai lullaby into a form of interactive installation art using the process of taking care of Thai orphaned babies to another land. The sound of babies’ crying in this piece reflects the way of communication from micro to macro in the society. Whenever a small unit in a community is disturbed, this will consecutively connect to other units.
“My intention to display this artwork in another country is to fulfill the significant meaning of places in the artwork. The installation represents grounded and uprooted experiences of transformation of one land to another land. The audience can get the idea of places from the physical space of where they are; the transformative space between the sites they are; and where the orphaned babies are from—the imaginative space of another land. The real site itself is used as a medium to interpret another site as well as the imagination of the audience on the cultural and social context. The work questions the issue of identities beyond the boundary of geography—a transformation of the boundaries of collective identity.” -Bundith Phunsombatlert
*A pregnant woman will perform in the installation as well as viewers are invited to rock the cradles.
Video of this piece here:
“As an artist living in Thailand for the past decade and now residing in the US, I have reflected on ever‐changing social, economic, and political situations, particularly in the framework of globalization. I seek to analyze and synthesize these issues within the context of history to form art that rethinks Thai identity in the world. Through interactive media installations, I design systems for sharing and communicating with the viewer that explore the transformation from fact‐based orientation to imagination. This parallels my own transformation as an artist working in the East and the West as well as my move from traditional to new media. Furthermore, it mimics a transmodal transformation that I argue is inherent in new media. ”
Mr. Phunsombatlert earned both his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in graphic arts (printmaking) at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, and his M.F.A in Digital+Media at Rhode Island School of Design. He has participated in international exhibition, such as the Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 1999, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, ISEA 2004: the 12th International Symposium on Electronic Arts, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, The Third Guangzhou Triennial 2008, Guangdong Museum of Art, China, and The 4th Auckland Triennial 2010, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. Among his selected awards and fellowships are Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2001, Second Prize Unesco Digital Art Award 2004, and Asia Cultural Council Fellow 2007.