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Indepth Arts News:

"I/O: Gimokud - An Internet Soul Project by Fatima Lasay"
2001-03-09 until 2001-03-21
West Gallery
Quezon City, , PH Philippines

The Gimokud Project is a visualization of an ancient Philippine myth depicting the interrupted existence of the soul (or gimokud). According to the myth, the soul goes about its customary existence at night and at the rising of the sun, plucks a leaf , twists it into a vessel suggesting the form of a boat and seats itself on it, waiting until the hot rays of the sun dissolves it into water. Only when darkness spreads over the land of the dead, does the gimokud resume its active existence.

Gimokud The Melting Soul, an online exhibition of collaborative digital artworks, was presented before an audience of students and faculty at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA). The Gimokud screening was held together with talks on Southeast Asian art at the Asian Arts Fest 2001 organized by the UPCFA's Theory Department and the University's Office of Initiatives on Culture and the Arts (OICA).

Gimokud The Melting Soul is a Hoydigiteer.org initiative with support from members of Webartery.com.

Participants in the soul project were requested to upload their souls (an image of themselves) and an object that they would bring with them if they were to travel as a gimokud. The recipients of their images, Digital Media students at the UPCFA and selected digital artists, would then create the leaf vessel upon which their gimokud would reside.

The raw images uploaded by the participants in the project revealed much about their individual notions of the soul and its existence, many acknowledged that among various cultures, the structure of myths are often the same.

Tiia Johannson sent an ultrasound image and Alan Sondheim opted to bring with him another mythical soul, that of Nikuko. Stephen Dignazio's gimokud travelling outfit included a wooden ruler with his name scrawled on it, while Reid Wood sent a mask which comfortably fitted him.

The artists receiving the raw images often saw the connection between soul and object which somehow naturally formed the gimokud. Widmarth Lodriga knew Reid Wood should be wearing his mask, and in Aileen Familara's work, the page in Jorge Luiz Antonio's book should be the leaf of his gimokud.

The online exhibition, which opened on February 14 2001, presents fifty-two digital works by thirty-two artists visualizing the souls of twenty-three participants from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Estonia, France, Greece, Slovenia, UK, and USA.

The myth of the soul or gimokud, being central to the project, requires the process of mutual cooperation for its completion. The participants in this project put their souls in the hands of strangers who would craft the leaf vessels of their interrupted existence - it is significant to stress the element of trust in this exercise. The Internet and its passengers have more soul than we suspected and this enterprise proves cyberspace is not cold, lifeless or empty; cyberspace throbs with warmth, flesh and blood, with soul. It may as well be the Great Country, a mythical situation quite in accordance with the common primitive concepts touching the souls of humans, animals, and inanimate objects, including the vast material infrastructure of the internet and all its immaterial associations.

At the Asian Arts Fest 2001, Gimokud was presented at a symposium on Asian art, enabling the audience to view the raw and the finished gimokud images. The screening sought to generate interest in the internet as a vehicle for enabling successful and meaningful cooperative work otherwise impossible thru other media.

Fatima Lasay is a writer, researcher, artist and teacher of digital media art. She runs and maintains Hoydigiteer.org, an initiative on Philippine new media art, with support from Macintoshexpress and SiteX.com.

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