NINDYA NARESWARI

Interview by Morgan Sully

I think one of my first exposures to the ‘Soy’ was in seeing some of the amazing work by Java-borne, Berlin-based Nindya Nareswari.  Kind and humble, ’Ninna’ constantly plays and experiments with the medium of light.  From small kinetic sculptures with motors, to large sheets of plastic which introduce *constructive interference to her work, her pieces are inviting and mood-inducing.  I hope maybe one day she’ll collaborate on a project with me (le sigh), but until then check out her work below and read on for some insight to Soydivision’s very own Light Queen, Nindya Nareswari 👑.

-Morgan


MS: What is it like where you are right now?

NN: I am at home right now, working while enjoying the morning sun with my tea 🙂 Finally spring is here! It really helps our mental state during the current situation with the pandemic I think.

MS: What does your studio or workspace look like?  Where do you produce your work?  What makes a good creative space for you?

NN: I work from home although I am also looking for a studio at the moment. Basically it is my bedroom where I have a long table, one side for computer work and the other  side for mock up and handwork. There are some shelves where I put my research books, my experiment materials and tools. My home is still the best workspace for me since I can adjust many things depending on what I am working on at that moment. A good workspace for me is a space that I can transform into a prototyping room, where I can do a trial of my installation. The place should get  proper daylight so that I can experiment with it but also transform it into a complete dark space for trials with artificial light.

MS: How did you get into designing light?  Was there something from your childhood or later that inspired you to begin your experiments?

NN: When I was a kid, I used to love watching fireflies because it was so magical. But I did not realize that I was interested in working with light until 2008 when I enrolled in the product design faculty. I found a book at a local bookstore about designing light, which really intrigued me and reminded me of the moment I watched fireflies. When I had an assignment to design a product with Plexiglas, I decided to design a lamp with integrated LEDs. There I realized something really special yet mysterious about light. Light changes the atmosphere completely and somehow creates an A-ha moment! Since then, I became interested in learning more about light. I had an opportunity to do an internship at Sakai Design Associate in Japan where I learned about materials and then at Ingo Maurer in Germany, which influenced me in terms of the importance of light and art in our life. So from then on, I dedicated myself to working with light and creating a magical experience.

MS: What does your studio or workspace look like?  Where do you produce your work?  What makes a good creative space for you?

NN: I work from home although I am also looking for a studio at the moment. Basically it is my bedroom where I have a long table, one side for computer work and the other  side for mock up and handwork. There are some shelves where I put my research books, my experiment materials and tools. My home is still the best workspace for me since I can adjust many things depending on what I am working on at that moment. A good workspace for me is a space that I can transform into a prototyping room, where I can do a trial of my installation. The place should get  proper daylight so that I can experiment with it but also transform it into a complete dark space for trials with artificial light.

MS: How did you get into designing light?  Was there something from your childhood or later that inspired you to begin your experiments?

NN: When I was a kid, I used to love watching fireflies because it was so magical. But I did not realize that I was interested in working with light until 2008 when I enrolled in the product design faculty. I found a book at a local bookstore about designing light, which really intrigued me and reminded me of the moment I watched fireflies. When I had an assignment to design a product with Plexiglas, I decided to design a lamp with integrated LEDs. There I realized something really special yet mysterious about light. Light changes the atmosphere completely and somehow creates an A-ha moment! Since then, I became interested in learning more about light. I had an opportunity to do an internship at Sakai Design Associate in Japan where I learned about materials and then at Ingo Maurer in Germany, which influenced me in terms of the importance of light and art in our life. So from then on, I dedicated myself to working with light and creating a magical experience.

MS: What is your compositional process like?  How do you experiment?  Do you have a favorite technique you would like to share?

NN: Working with light is always about experiment. I rarely sketch before doing experiments. Because even though I think I know roughly what the effect is, I may still miss something if I don’t experiment with the materials. Every time I experiment I am always surprised and amazed by unexpected phenomena.

How I experiment will depend on the project but mostly I use materials in contact with light. Sometimes I only use one material and sometimes I mix them to explore something new. There is no favorite or certain technique but what is important for me is to always document them, either by taking pictures or videos of what the effect is and how I achieve it. Sometimes I sketch the setup as well. There was a time I didn’t document one of my experiments and I couldn’t remember what material I used and how I achieved the effect. Then I had to repeat the experiment again and it was kind of a waste of time. So fellow artists, don’t FORGET to document your experiment! Or you will regret it later. 🙂

MS: Where do you get your inspiration?  Who are other artists we should be checking out?

The biggest inspiration for me is basically the science and nature of light itself. I have always been fascinated by natural light phenomenon and I feel that I always learn new things from there. If we are talking about people, Olafur Eliasson with his philosophy of light, James Turrel with his work on light and space, Julio Le Parc with his play of light and movement, and Peter Zumthor with his poetry of light on architecture. Their wonderful works inspire and motivate me to develop more of what I do.

MS: You recently (before corona) did a project working with light and the perception of food and taste.  As part of the audience, I really enjoyed it!  Can you tell me a bit about that?  What were some of the things you were wanting to experiment with there?  What was that like?

NN: Thank you, my pleasure! Yes, I would love to share. It was part of my long term study about the way light affects human perception. It had been a long time since I wanted to conduct an experiment on light and food. I was really happy to be able to share the experience at Empathy Supper. My experiment was to answer these questions: how far can we trust our senses? How do we perceive food in a completely new environment where some of our senses are muted? Could we still perceive it as the one we remember from our memory? Do we still have an appetite to eat? Does it change the taste of the food?

One example is lighting in the supermarket. They have specific color temperatures in the vegetable and meat section. Good lighting reveals the true color of the food, but sometimes they manipulate by using a color temperature that makes it even more saturated than the real color. Then when you are at home, you are surprised and confused by seeing a different color of what you have bought because your light at home has a different color temperature. Also lighting in the restaurant; bright light is used for fast food business to make the customer feel uncomfortable so they won’t stay long. On the other side, warm dimmed light is used at fine dining restaurants to make people comfortable.

I would like to share my thoughts on this and bring awareness to people about what light can do to our mind. This experiment made me realize that there is no normal or default or right or wrong. It is like when we see ourselves in a different kind of mirror. Then we ask ourselves, which one is the right reflection of me? 

The event was a 5 course dinner with multisensory experience. We divided the space into environments where participants experience different light atmospheres and interactive settings. The feedback was amazing and motivating. Some people even liked to be blindfolded which I didn’t expect! I would definitely love to develop this idea further and share the experience with people. I am also open to collaboration on this project 🙂

MS: What are your next projects?  

NN: Unfortunately, due to current conditions all events I am working on are postponed until further notice. However, there are some new projects coming up that I can do without having to meet people – artwork for an album cover and a new piece of installation are what I am working on right now. I am very excited to share as soon as this pandemic is over.

MS: Who should we interview next?   What would you like to learn?

NN: I would say Cindy (an illustrator) and Arel (a video artist). I would love to learn about their creative process and story behind it.

*Science nerd alert🤓: Constructive interference refers to the phenomena of light being reflected back at you from a surface which contains slight different thicknesses.  The reflections thus make varied angles of reflection.  It’s what causes the ‘rainbow’ you see on gasoline or oil for example.


More about Nindya.:

Published by

Morgan

Morgan

Morgan is the son of an exiled Indonesian court dancer and free-spirited American writer and ship-builder. Having grown up in an oil-financed beach colony on the eastern coast of Borneo before being smuggled to the United States, Morgan picked up the sound cultures of techno, dub, punk and other club musics before settling in Berlin. Morgan’s musicological interests also include ballads, spirituals and other roots Americana as well as FM synthesis, gamelan and live sound composition using microphones and mixer feedback. Much of Morgan’s practice lies in searching out and harmonizing resonances between the histories of these music through writing, djing and performing.