[installation/instrument] MOS – an instrument for Merapi

Mountain Operated Synthesizer

During my participation in The Instrument Builders Project, I did a collaboration with Michael Candy and Pia van Gelder to create MOS (Mountain Operated Synthesizer). The instrument which took form as an installation was responding the environment condition of the mountain such of the air and earth and make them audible. MOS was installed in post 2 of Mount Merapi Yogyakarta, Indonesia in July 2013.

andreas and michael in digiware electronic shop

The idea to create MOS began when I met Michael and Pia during The Instrument Builders Project (IBP). As both of them work with electronics, I decided to show them some of the electronic shops in Yogyakarta. I thought it would be very helpful for them to get some components for IBP. I know electronics shops in Yogyakarta are small, hard to find and have weird operational hours. As visitors, Michael and Pia would need help and information about this. I understand it pretty well since I myself have trouble in getting components when I began my interest in electronics.

Michael on Post 2 Merapi

As we hang out together, I recommend Michael and Pia to take a look around Yogyakarta before started to work on IBP. It’s good to chill down a bit and feel the vibe of the city. What they did were going to the Merapi mountain which I never have the courage to go to. Pia wrote in IBP site of their experience in visiting Mount Merapi here.

Map of the Imaginary Alignment between Merapi, Palace and South Ocean

Map of the Imaginary Alignment between Merapi, Palace and South Ocean. source: Jogjasiana.net

For Yogyakarta Sultanate, Merapi holds significant cosmological symbolism, because it is forming a sacred north-south axis line between Merapi peak and Southern Ocean. This sacred axis connected the spirits of mountain revered since ancient times—often identified as “Mbah Petruk” by Javanese people—The Sultan of Yogyakarta as the leader of the Javanese kingdom, and Nyi Roro Kidul as the queen of the Southern Ocean.

Petruk, one of the Punokawans in Javanese Wayang Puppet

Petruk, one of the Punokawans in Javanese Wayang Puppet

“Mbah Petruk”, a deity in which hold the symbol of mount Merapi, is a Javanese Wayang Puppet Character. He’s the middle son of the Punokawan, a quartet of clown servants hero which only exists in Indonesian version of Mahabharata. They are gods which possess great power depicted as a normal (Javanese) personification, with physical flaws which make them looks ugly. Acting as the hero’s advisors, they give words of wisdoms through jokes which makes the audience love their appearances in Wayang Puppet shows.

Mountain Operated Synthesizer (MOS) Installation in 2nd Post of Merapi Mountain

As an Indonesian who has been living in Yogyakarta for 18 years, the idea of making an instrument for mbah Petruk (Merapi mountain) sends chills in to my spine. I went to several mountains in Java such as Merbabu, Lawu, Sindoro and Sumbing, but I was always afraid of Merapi. All the mystical beliefs of Merapi mountain are very well alive even in the present time. Most of my friends were advising me not to do the project. On the other hands, I consider myself as giving an offering to the Merapi mountain by collaborating in this project which is nothing against the local wisdom or disrespectful to the local community. In the end I said yes to the collaboration and the three of us started to build the ideas of MOS.

My friend Bayu Indra, helping us in installing MOS in Mount Merapi

My friend Bayu Indra, helping us in installing MOS in Mount Merapi

During the installation process, I called my friend Bayu Indra, a local residence on Merapi mountain slope. He knows the area pretty well and we really need him to help us explaining to the local communities there. So the four of us went up bringing all the materials for the installation. It took us roughly four hours to get to the 2nd post of Mount Merapi. We arrived there in mid day and began the installation process.

Pia Van Gelder installing MOS IMG_9486edit

MOS installation

The environment condition in Merapi mountain wasn’t quite exactly what we expected. The weather was changing drastically in just minutes. The mist could came suddenly and rain start to drop instantly which made us completely exposed and have to stop the installation process to wait and restart the process after it stopped. We were noobs, unequipped with warm clothes, food and water during the installation. So we install the MOS as quickly as we can, made some documentations and went back to Yogyakarta approximately at 15.00. We eat like hungry cows afterwards.

MOS video documentation of the Merapi work is shown alongside a functioning prototype of the installation

MOS prototype and documentation in ICAN


Check also MOS in Pia Van Gelder’s website and MOS in Michael Candy’s website.

Article and Publication


MOS in Jakarta Globe

2 thoughts on “[installation/instrument] MOS – an instrument for Merapi

  1. Pingback: Noble Wave for Instrument Builders Project – NGV, Melbourne, AU | andreas siagian

  2. Pingback: [instrument | installation] Nadalaut: As Above So Bellow for Instrument Builders Project – NGV, Melbourne, AU. A collaboration with Dale Gorfinkel. | andreas siagian

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