Sunday, September 23, 2007

About Sensors

'The totalitarian order depends for its very existence on a precarious equilibrium. Without the heretic, the rebel, the writer, the state crumbles: yet by tolerating him, the ruler equally well seals his fate. As least by implication, Big Brother's mighty system disappears because he wanted to eradicate the dissident - but could not do without him'.

-Andre Brink-

‘Sexual organs move independently of will… from this disobedience of the flesh, mark of a fallen state, none are exempt, not even in the guardians of our morals’.

-J.M. Coetzee-

Sensors is an exhibition that takes banned texts as a motif. Two interactive installations explore censorship as a paradoxical and complex process.

The first is a buzz wire game, in which the viewer is invited to run a hoop along a bent wire in the attempt to reach the end of the wire without touching it. The wire is shaped to follow histogram charts of texts that have been banned from 1971 to the present day. Information about ‘sensitive information’ is turned into a spatial entity to be negotiated physically, and the most arbitrary false move sets off a warning light.

The second is a ‘gallery of monsters’ housed in a darkened space. Viewers navigate the work with handheld torches, opening doors to uncover strange and mythical beasts inhabiting lists of banned texts.

Empirical graphs and irrational monsters – both are shapes that only suggest, not define what is deemed forbidden, transgressive or offensive. A book may be banned in Malaysia according to detailed guidelines, but any attempt to objectively define these guidelines is difficult. How do we draw these essentially arbitrary limits in ourselves and society? Thinking about censorship draws for us merely shadowy shapes of our fears, which disappear like wraiths when exposed in the light of knowledge and discourse.

This project is generously supported by a grant from the Krishen Jit ASTRO Fund.

1 comment:

Zaharan Razak said...

Hi Sharon, Recently when the authorities banned several books I wrote a piece about it at my blog and the article was picked up by a number independent blogsites for the benefit of their readers. Take a look.

Remembering Krishen Jit, I recall about 10 years ago I won a prize as a first timer in a stage drama script writing contest organized by Shell and NST (nee Kee Thuan Chye)along established names like Lloyd(y) Fernando, Syed Alwi.

However, unlike my 11-year son, I don't have a talent in art!