Skip to main content
Boedi Widjaja A tree rings a tree sings 树龄 述铃 2021 Image by Rob Battersby Installation view at FACT WEB RES

A tree rings, a tree sings 树龄°述铃 (2021)

Responding to his family’s multiple migrations during his early life, Boedi Widjaja’s work considers the limitations of language, and the arbitrary nature of its formation. With reference to his own struggle with slippages between languages, the artist has created his own visual writing system using his genetic code, combining it with ancient texts and cultural almanacs: an experimental strategy for new forms of expression.

Epigenetics is the study of how events and environments can change the way genes work. Widjaja questions whether we can potentially inherit ancestral memories - images and sounds - through epigenetic transmissions, and therefore hold the possibility of changing our futures through art-making.

As part of this multi-site installation, Widjaja explores this concept using multiple audio and visual source materials. A looping, generative video work animates images and sounds of Widjaja’s ancestral hometown: reshot as moving image using a process where the camera lens is inverted, producing hazy and ethereal scenes, as if taken from memory. The music score is composed by combining traditional gamelan instruments with a digital output of Widjaja’s hybrid DNA (created by Widjaja and a collaborating geneticist). While the analogue images reveal the artist’s presence, the video is generated from an algorithmic composition that plays differently every time, almost infinitely, reflecting a continuous accumulation of inherited memories.

A tree rings, a tree sings 树龄°述铃 is commissioned by The Institutum and co-presented with Gasworks. Partly supported by NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore.