During the early week, as a starting point I had been working on creating a small oscillator leaving its modulation inputs open for some form of external control.  Michael and I toured the local electronics stores with Andreas and Michael made a temperature sensor that would detect temperatures over 100 C while planning to walk up Mount Merapi. We had spoken about Michael’s plans during these days and I had little intention of joining him, but I will admit that I had left my project open with an interest in possibly involving some form of the mountain itself as a control input. After discovering that Michael had been misinformed about the duration of the hike up Merapi, that it would likely be 2 or 3 hours to hike up rather than 7 (!!!!), I was happy to join him on his adventure.

On Friday we went embarked on our hike up Mount Merapi, an active volcano about an hours drive from Jogjakarta. We started at the foothill of the mountain in Kinahrejo, about 4 kilometers from the top on the southern side of the mountain. We started there at 7am and were told by locals that is was safe for climbing. They explained that there are two basecamps along our chosen trail, one less than a kilometer up and a second about half way up and that there shouldn’t be any sulphar clouds. We had heard from a local that if we were cought in a sulphar cloud, to avoid poisoning we should commando crawl up the mountain as the gas would travel a meter above the ground.


We reached the first basecamp in an hour and found some offerings that had been made to the mountain, a chicken and several packets of cigarettes. The trail had been easy enough to hike so we decided to continue on to the second base camp. It appeared that the following trail was pretty steep and difficult to follow because it was quite overgrown and there was considerable fog. When we found the second base camp there was nothing to see but our immediate environment which appeared to be the remains of an impressive look out point, that had been encased in cold lava. After resting for some time we noticed some blue sky peaking in at us and eventually the fog cleared to reveal an incredible view of the remaining slope and the summit with a cloud of steam flowing from its peak. Around us we could see over the tops of the clouds that settled over the country side all the way to Jogja. This only left us with more determination to reach the top.


Michael on basecamp #1


Pia on basecamp #2


As we scrambled up the remaining slope I continued exclaiming “Woh!” at least 100 times at the spectacular views before us. We found ourselves trying to compare the sites to movies like Avatar until we just decided that no “This is unlike any film I have ever seen!!! It is infact the view from an active volcano on the outskirts of Jogjakarta, Indonesia!!!


During this last stretch we found something that was very interesting to us possibly because it was draped in electronics. It was some kind of self sufficient monitoring site had been installed. What struck us was how the machines that made the apparatus were thrown together in an esky and how what escaped the box were wires buried in cement and earth at several points. Even though this was clearly an important point for monitoring the active volcano’s seismic activities it still included this Indonesian DIY aesthetic we have been revealed to on our trip so far. Something about this said “Look inside. You can make this too”.



This monitoring mechanism got us excited and inspired about the idea of making some kind of instrument that the mountain could play. Maybe it interprets seismic data, maybe it senses vibration, or moisture or gasses in the atmosphere, maybe it works with all these things and more. What we do know is that we want to install it on the mountain itself, high up, as an offering to it and as a kind of reward for anyone that might reach that point and as an instrument for the mountain to play that interprets its nature and feeling and shares these sounds with its environment and anyone who might happen to find it.


Michael at the point of “go no further!”

We never reached the summit. We had to stop only 300 or so meters from the top due to damage the 2010 eruption had left on the trail. What remianed was ash and rock that led down to disastrous folds of dried lava.