Darivisual Province: DKI Jakarta Regency/City: Central Jakarta Subdistrict: Gambir

A Perfect Fiction of the Omniscient Third Person

Written by Otty Widasari

This article is a curatorial introduction to an exhibition, DIORAMA – Since History Is Fiction at Gudang Sarinah Ecosystem, 17-27 November 2016. It is also a part of an anthology published by Forum Lenteng, entitled Diorama: Since History Is Fiction (2016). We re-publish it on the AKUMASSA website in the framework of the “Darivisual”.

Omniscient Third Person

She/he is the third person who know them all, that delivered the thoughts of characters in every story. The truth of the story that She/he told is the faith that match with their views in the problems of live and life. That truth doesn’t need to be align with the actual truth that applied in the real world. Something that may or may not happened in the real world are the truth in their words. She/he is arranging proses, not poems. Because proses are the candidness that could portray facts and ideas. Because proses could understood with reasons and consist of truth that could dramatize the relations between human. Because proses have variation of rhythms that are much diverse than the poem, and having a language that are more convenient with the meaning of the words itself.

In the story that She/he told, there is drama. Represented by the movement dimension that portray the reality of real life. There are whimsies and doings of human beings through the characters. There are dialogues, of course, that She/he picked up from the previous events since a long time ago, that culturally designed in the head of the readers. What She/he needs is only the quality of conveyance, quality of circumstances, and the scenic quality, that have to strongly and cleverly present as something holistic and profound.
Then, who are this ‘She/he’?

It could be anyone. She/he could be a literateurs, media moguls, academics, ordinary citizens, even states. All of them could be a skillful authors, with the preconditions of already gained a huge social trust. She/he could do gradually do it, for instance, referring on her/his past experiences and then stressing on the obligation to always remember history, to aim for a social-democratic narration. Or, could also done with radical way, such as do severe changes and then told the nobility of figures that meritoriously construct the building of capitalism with the military arms that pointed to the readers. He/she could converse through many approaches: politics, cultures, economies, even mythologies.


In every piece of fiction literature, there is always a point of view. That’s one the intrinsic matters of the piece itself. Point of view is the way for author to present the characters, the doings, the settings, and various circumstances that shaped the story in the fiction peace to the readers. The story usually narrated from the point of view of 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person.

If the story is being told by a character inside the story, then the story is being told me “I”. If the character is the main character, then the point of view is entitled to the protagonists. But if not as the main character, then the point of view in entitled to the observers.

Then if the story is told by the character outside the story, but by author that’s located outside, the character then called “she/he”. If the narrator has no impact, only as an uninvolved onlooker just like a reader, then the point of view is owned the third person dramatic narrator. If the narrator is expressing the thoughts of the character, then the point of view is entitled to the third person omniscient, the all-knowing narrator.

This Third Person Omniscient! This is a specific role outside the story that she/he made. It’s a remarkable role. How it is not, that she/he could alter everything into a whole new reality, even it is fictitious, the readers don’t need to believe –only feel captivated– but able to construct an ideological monument inside readers’ heads. She/he is so remarkable, because she/he is not the first person, nor the second person. She/he is the invisible third person. A humble role because she/he dismisses her/his presence inside the story. As humble as an indigenous people that utterly bowed in front of the landlord. A tradition that inherited until now, who called herself/himself (as the third person) that dismiss the “self”.

Through the invisible role she/he awaken the dead bodies from the present, brought them back to live with a whole new heroic roles as a brilliant characters. Characters that saved many of people fates after garner fought and resistance towards injustice.

A Reincarnate of the First Person

Monument already constructed inside the head of readers through an articulate process. The ‘she/he’ already glorified her/his ideology. Politically, the communal perception inside their heads already altered into icon. And then, she/he comes into existence inside the story, as a vivid figures. In certain state of consciousness, finally she/he reincarnates into “I”.

The storyteller, undoubtedly then have to appear herself/himself. It is however her/his story that already spirited. Having chapters, scenes, dialogues, prologues until epilogues. There are characters with clear and complete characterizations: main and complementary. The protagonists require the presence of the antagonists. It’s then awakened the dramatization. Plots arranged in adequate amount: there’s affairs, conflicts, and all goes down to a climax. The principle of plot actually need to have a believable causality matter based on the logic of the story. Mind that there’s also cohesiveness of suspense and surprise. She/he involves historians to construct a time-frame, setting and social-background. These are reality. And this are her/his story, because she/he came from the place from the past as the subject. This is a biography, or autobiography to be exact.

Autobiography inside Diorama

Diorama is a history that established by the state. The author is the authorities. New authorities, new narrations. And society learns about it as a national history. The truth is established legalized in the name of state. Those who intend to object have to face the legal law of state. Like an exact sciences, history becoming something closeted and the possibility of any future interpretations. But the fact is, history is always changing based on who control the discourse. In certain period, the variable are only subject (scapegoat) and the hero. Time changed, then arise another variable which is the testified of victims, and later appear the variable of reconciliation in which the victims are not only come from one realm.

The counter-discourse then rolling, and the act of historical activism gain a strong objective evidences through an academic and historian discourse that opposed. Another scattered evidences from past are collected, and then they fight over discourse. The one that has the authority to speak is only the state, academic, military, victims…. and the society are silenced in the distance, not involved.

Then, where is the room for alternative history, when all of the stories already established in certain way? What happened with people as tiny as ants in the middle of worshipers of Tuanku Imam Banjol who stood up in the certain heights, wore a white garment, poured by lights coming from the diorama lamps that dramatically located in the National Museum? In which chapter of historical book back in school that could include the people that were sitting cross-legged, whispering and gossiping while Patih Gajah Maja held up his keris loudly made an oath of Sumpah Palapa? The workers of Borobudur Temple that were blessed by the noble monk? The marching people that stood still in the right and left side of Kiayi Haji Ahmad Dahlan? Where were they in the historical notes that we see today?

It seems like they silently creep through the technology of hardware. Wordlessly jumping inside the groove of software that brought them up to the clouds and nonchalantly sliding into the page of netizen autobiography using their selfie-stick, put themselves as the background of history nowadays. Then, is it possible for those unnamed characters that were joyfully incorporate with millennium generation today, celebrating the intercourse of media social simulation?

Then, hei, the artist that created diorama! Why were the plates and glassed put upon a chair (instead of table) in the corner Integrated Assembly of East Timor with Indonesia at May 31st 1976 in Dali? Was the bizarre chair needs to be shown to the spectators that inclined to read the history? Next, who were the owner of three pair of foot that lying, neglected in the corner of the assembly hall of agreement to hold a Round Table Conference that eventually will recognize the sovereignty of Indonesia? Were those foot had no biographically story?

Who Believed in Google?

There’s no history textbook that could answer all of those questions above. Meanwhile the generation of internet feel really distanced with history, seeing that all visual that portrayed in front the eyes have its own narrative consequences, even if it comes from an enlargement that they are doing using technology. And the wild objects are also legitimately part of state media that portrayed in a formal state monument and legitimate as a history.

And if they couldn’t find the answers in the textbook, the way out is by googling!

Who believe in the Google’s work of archiving? Billions of people in the world! Google is one of the example because there’s also a lot server that provide a service to access archive. But, if the archives are used as a reference in the academic world, it’s indeed will be mocked. It’s not valid to use as reference. Then, who believe in Google’s archives? I do!

I am the author of this writings. I used mostly of sources from server in the clouds. Those findings that I discovered are not fought over a historical discourse. That is a total fiction. Fiction of the Third Person Omniscient, that then become the first person. Me.

My version is fiction is not debating about truth. Not demanding proofs and evidences then highly take pride in academically objective. Call me lazy, call me not a hardworker, and even call me unintellectual. Do not believe in my references. I humbly tell a story, not a history, refuse it. Because it’s all only a fiction.

Because History is Fiction

Without depicting the hard and creative work of Edhi Sunarso, the artist that made dozens of diorama in Indonesia, including Monas diorama, for me diorama is a fiction. Say, it’s a historical fiction. Diorama in Monas were created by two President of Indonesia, Sukarno and Suharto. These two presidents led in a long period of time, with the accumulations of long time to make up a fiction narrative which then became an established myths in the head of Indonesian people. Artist that becoming the second hand of authorities to established history through this three-dimensional medium which fused into the construction of fantastical history discourse.

History is what written. There were some made appear, or made disappear. To support my very statement, I’d like to quote myself talking about similar matter in terms of historical archives that’s being talked about here: ….events that had happened in the past only belonged to the time. Time has changed, then the events has gone. People who lamented the passing of time, or, supposedly aware of documentation, who documented events, froze them in a medium. […] we are certainly aware that the documentation needs definitely based on several things that later become the basis of a construction documents. Construction documents certainly have an interest that we can read as a polemic of power.[1]Widasari, Otty, (2013). ARKIPEL Experimental and Documentary Film Festival Catalogue: Challenging the History Construction. Jakarta: Forum Lenteng. Then history is construction of archives, just like fictions that never free from the reality around it.

Meanwhile for the new generations, history is something that’s not grasped. History is images that give impression. And people have their own opportunity to interpret, narrate and create their own version of history, because the autobiography of great people already losing with the autobiography of million generation that displayed in their own social media first pages. That’s beautify to be unique and very interactive along with the time. Autobiography now is not like their own daily reality, because history is fiction.

The Mystery of Three Pairs of Foot

This time it’s not I (author), but I (fiction). What I remembered, my two friends and I that I don’t remember the names were present in the big meeting. And I also remembered, it was a meeting talking about the declaration of sovereignty of Indonesia, and all of them were agreed to have a conference surrounding a round table. My two friends are I were also present, and as I remembered, we had roles in this historical story. I indeed wanted to be part of the history. But really, I could not remember why my friends I were made disappeared from the history. Previously, we were forcefully removed from that big assembly hall.

Today this group of young people found our three pairs of foot in the corner of the museum. They were gasped. Then they tried to figure out our identities. They really had a hard time to find old historical evidences after 67 years being forgotten.

They were not in the filling cabinet of State’s archives. Probably the state was hiding our presence. Then they ran themselves to the house of counter-historical discourse activist. But they couldn’t give the archives which were stuffed inside a pile of box as high as the ceilings, and were hard access because they were just finished moving in to the new office. The group of young people were gossiping, regretting, why those people were archiving the documents inside boxes instead of up in the clouds, so then my friends and I could join with another unnamed characters that celebrate the contemporaneity, that didn’t twist or hardly fight a system of value that in control through earlier document that used, instead, changed it into a fictional reality through an exhibition.

Lenteng Agung, November 12th 2016

Footnote   [ + ]

1. Widasari, Otty, (2013). ARKIPEL Experimental and Documentary Film Festival Catalogue: Challenging the History Construction. Jakarta: Forum Lenteng.

About the author


Otty Widasari

OTTY WIDASARI is an artist, writer, director and curator. Currently, she is the Director of the Media Education and Empowerment Program (AKUMASSA) at the Forum Lenteng.

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