Inter-cultural project of Southeast Asian Archipelago: GONG Trilogy

  • The Grant Program for Promotion of Cultural Collaboration
Grant Year
Fiscal Year 2018
Grant Amount
JPY 3,237,033
Country of Activity

Gong ex Machina is a collaborative performance by Yasuhiro Morinaga (sound artist and music composer from Japan), Yudi Ahmad Tajudin (contemporary theatre director from Indonesia), and other artists across disciplines from Indonesia: Mian Tiara, Gunawan Maryanto, Dwi Windarti, Wulang Sunu, Ignatius Sugiarto, MN Qomaruddin, dan Arsita Iswardhani.
The title of the performance, “Gong ex Machina”, is a word play from a technical term in ancient Greece in the 5th century: Deus ex Machina, which more or less means God in or out of the machine. The term refers to the technique to present actors playing as gods on the stage of a Greek tragedy using equipment like cranes, moving up and down, or a trap door, to allow the actor coming from below the stage. Hence, Gong ex Machina, a gong in or out of the machine.
The concept of the performance evolves from a reflection following an extensive research by Morinaga on the gong culture throughout South East Asian countries. One of the significant findings of the research is that how a music/sound produced by a gong, as well as the gong itself, serves as a communication medium between human and supernatural beings (the ancestors, gods, and God) or even as the supernatural being itself (God in the Gong or through the Gong).
It is a sonic theatre because in this performance sound is the main element. The theatre (movements, images, stories, emotions and perhaps meanings) in Gong ex Machina was created based on the sound composition, not a script. The event also highlighted and developed the presence of sounds as its anchor.
The performance was presented in a “3D-immersive” sound system, which put sound output in the whole theatre room, not just from the stage. The sound came from all directions and the audience heard the sound from everywhere. Renowned sound engineer from Japan, Tetsushi Hirai, designed the sound system.
As a performance, Gong ex Machina tries to reflect on how sound or voice (or also noise) plays a part in shaping our experience and understanding of the world. Another contemplation is: which god we listen to and which god moves us?

Achievements of FY 2016
chievements of FY 2015

Related Countries
Japan, Indonesia, China
Co-organizer(s), Cooperator(s)
Teater Garasi
Lijiang Studio Foundation

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