June 2021

Most of these videos were filmed by Pak Uning Laut, the third brother of the sea, across several months before and after the landas monsoon season, both of us trying to triangulate between my questions, his process and the sea to understand what rumah ikan is. Making structures out of kayu bakau fringed with nipah palms and strung with rope, of sinking the structure 38 metres below the waves so it settles on the sea floor, a rope snaking up to the water surface and marked with a buoy. Experiments each season to see what worlds they create, what kinds of fish come to play and how many, how big, what else.

We wrangle all this via whatsapp, navigating rumah ikan across 7000 miles. I sit still with maps and books, Pak Uning busy with his boats and the fish, the sea between.

If I don’t know the answer to your question I’ll just stay silent, says Pak Uning.

Somewhere in the middle of our discussions and the many silences, other worlds emerge, a rotating assemblage of messages, photos, videos, anecdotes, diversions, opacities. A pixellated sea, pixellated fish, stories that pull in many directions.