Indonesia inventor of strange music instruments


Slamet Jenggot Indonesian artist

Doc Brown may have invented a vehicle that travels through time, and the Swiss scientist Victor Fankenstein may have topped the charts of mad scientists when he created life in the form of a horrible monster, but these pop culture mad inventors have nothing on an Indonesian artist who creates strange musical instruments out of mechanical spare parts.

Slamet Wiyono, also known as Slamet Jenggot, which means “Bearded Slamet” is a Bekasi-based architect, painter and musician who drew inspiration to create these peculiar instruments from his hobby of dismantling mechanical components. This frenzy started back in 2012 when he created his first instrument. Ever since, he has been using auto spare parts he finds on the side of the road or collects from auto repair shops to assemble his musical creations.
"The way I work is very organic. I avoid using a welding machine to combine these aluminum and steel pieces for my instrument," Slamet told The Jakarta Globe. One of his creations is a hand-cranked music box which consists of over 500 kilograms of steel and aluminum plates assembled together with metal bolts.
This instrument creates unusual yer harmonious music by activating a bass, drum, guitar, kick drum, cymbal and other instruments. The Indonesian artist views this machine as a groundbreaking invention that allows us to do something that is not humanly possible to do with the body or the mind. "I am always fascinated by the relationship between art, technology and science. To me, my work shows how these three elements can work together to create a unity," the 66-year-old inventor said. This colossal instrument also is made out of several kitchen implements, including scales, portable stoves and frying pans.
According to Slamet, his modus operandis while making this strange instruments stems from his educational background. "My work combines art design and machines. I studied architecture and I have a passion for all things automotive.”
Although this huge instrument might resemble an instrument and it might induce you to think so given Slamet's fascination for all things automotive, he claims he never intended for it come out that way, because he is also trying to create art with his musical instruments and art is subjective. He wants people to have their perception and interpretation of the instrument.
Apart from being music instruments and artistic creations, Slamet also uses his work as a escape valve to his political thoughts. He said some of the instruments manifest his disappointment with political discrimination, intolerance and greedy leaders. "People often ask why I created this monstrosity. I said, this is the way I express my fondness for art and a creative way to voice [my] anxiety about the world," Slamet said. For instance, the scale stands for all the imbalances he sees in Indonesian politics.
Although some people might not understand or like Slamet's work, there are others who truly appreciate it and have even expressed their desire to purchase some of his instruments. Unfortunately for them, however, Slamet said he would never sell his creations. "I like what I create and I have no intention to sell it. Many of my artist friends said I can make a lot of profit but this is not about money. It's about my passion," Slamet said.
Even if he sold these instruments, they would be hard to play for any seasoned musician as they do not follow a diatonic scale like conventional music instruments. "When I perform, my instrument cannot follow the guitar, drum or piano, they have to follow me. Because I did not create it to follow a conventional musical scale.”
This peculiar creator makes up for it by hosting a workshop where he teaches attendees how to create musical instruments the way he does, and also for those who are interested in kinetic art. Attendees range from university students and artists and music lovers in general who regularly join him in Bekasi.
He also holds workshops outside his house and his latest project was even accepted to be showcased in the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang. "They asked me to create 15 kinetic art installation made of aluminum and steel, just like what I did," Slamet told The Jakarta Globe.
This multifaceted artist has two studios, one for his paintings in Durent Sawit, East Jakarta, and the musical instrument workshop he has at home. Although he is popularity keeps growing, he said there are no plans to open up any more studios in the works. "I prefer to have people come to my house,” he explained. “It's always nice to have people around."
That might change in the future as the 66-year-old artist is starting get more and more recognition for his work. While he is not widely known in Jakarta, Slamet's work is widely recognised by Indonesia's art communities. So far he has performed in several musical festival and has even taken to the stage in plays.


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