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Triptych

by Megan Wonowidjoyo

  1. Dream ETHER-nally

ETHER portrays a fantasy tale where the protagonist lives in the surreal world between reality and fantasy. I connect with this art piece very much, especially during Covid-19 lockdown, when socmed and Internet games give an escape for those of us who cannot have a life in the normal world to live vicariously online, where we can unleash our wildest fantasies as virtual beings.

Therefore, my artwork responds to Yuele’s film by questioning the existence of a person in the real world and virtual world. My protagonist lives in the real world, which is dreary and black and white, to represent the harshness of life. She is an invalid and invisible; we can only see her existence through the blood-red intubation tubes, a reminder that she is alive by only a thin thread. The red tubes also symbolise the connection to the virtual world. When you are “wired” in this way, you come alive, though in the physical world you are just seated before your computer like a zombie for hours on end. Your existence is therefore there and not-there. Our protagonist can live her alternate life as a digital being. Without physical presence, but through loops of digital screens, she dreams “ETHER-nally”.

  1. Not for Little Me

The Paiseh Piece: A poem, I guess combines poetry, gifs, 3D art, and music. Although I am a visual artist, I am most drawn to the poetry. The digital art is impressive, with the use of gif animation, 3D art and music, but the strong abstraction and sense of elusiveness makes it hard for me to connect emotionally. My favourite section is “iv. Wavering”, where the man with the mask looks down while waving shyly, expressing the scene of embarrassment in the poem directly. In my artwork response, I did not want to add more new tropes. I wanted to simplify and narrate more directly using a few of the artists’ existing tropes to express how being paiseh (the feeling of embarrassment, shame, and/or shyness) feels.

Personally, I understand the feeling of being paiseh most in the context of family. In this dinner scene, our protagonist wants to eat the last dumpling but is too shy to go for what he wants. Unlike the other people in the family that are more vocal and go-getters, he feels insignificant and unworthy. Even on his birthday, there is no celebration as the balloons are far away and his birthday present is hidden from him. His desires, which are the things represented in yellow, though within his very reach, always elude him. I have made him therefore much smaller than the rest because the essence of being paiseh is feeling small and unimportant. He wears a smiling mask to hide his true feelings of hurt and pain because he feels unworthy to speak even at his own family table.

  1. Fallen Angel

In Farewell Angel, an angel and his lover say goodbye to each other. The beauty and radiance of the angel contrasts the silence and dark loneliness of our protagonist, who expresses his longing for his lover in music.

In this heartfelt love song, I was very drawn to the chorus “All I want to do is keep running back in time with you”. In my artwork response, I focus on the sweet and forbidden nature of their relationship. Angels are not supposed to fall in love with humans, since they are beings from different realms. In the song, the suggestion that God separates them by summoning the angel through the computer makes an interesting claim that God can speak in the digital voice. In my artwork, I therefore suggest that they can reunite again possibly in the digital realms through the computer screen again. Against the things lost in the black-and-white of time, the blue computer screen is the answer that connects their memories through past, present and future, and serves as a bridge between the earthly and supernatural forces to reunite the human with his angel lover.