Communication through Media
We waited long for guests from Jakarta at Saidjah Forum. Here, there were a bunch of people who were busy talking about bad weather these days and suddenly were startled by the ring of a cell phone.
Our guest: “We are exiting the Baleraja freeway in a moment. After that where do we have to drive this car?”
I answered: “After you exit the freeway, turn your car west toward Asem area. When you arrive in Asem, don’t go straight because if you go straight you will go to Serang. Turn south, then you will be on the road toward Lebak.”
Our guest: “We are entering the welcome entrance of Rangkasbitung, where do we have to turn next?”
I answered: “When you reach Adipura Monument, go straight a bit and then turn left until you find a traffic circle, after that you will enter the Sunan Kali Jaga Street, stop right there, we will pick you up later.”
That was the communication that happened in December 10th 2008 and I still remembered it clearly. It was only a memory, they weren’t in Lebak anymore. That event wouldn’t be able to be repeated either. These memory and note would become witnesses on the past event. If at first the expression of feeling and thought of first and second ‘I’ revolved around a simple individual interest about the search and direction, that they didn’t have to look at each other to know one another closely, then someone’s mind which was affected by feeling could be an idea or thought, information or explanation, request, suggestion, even instruction.
In their interaction, I and they, in communicating their thoughts didn’t inform anymore, didn’t give basic understanding anymore, but influenced their company to do something. I started to construct myself. I was with other people. I also mapped my social culture identity at that time. In it, there was a structure of bigger social culture system that applied, which contained all other ‘Is’.
The Collection of Our Notes
You and I were in the same position, sitting on the floor on a carpet that just finished being dried, in a small room with walls in faded paint and that sometimes got some water droplets from the roof when rain came. I often let the air ventilation open wide in order to minimize the stifling air in the room. We talked a little bit shyly. Where the feeling came from, I didn’t know. At that time, we were just a bunch of local young people who wanted to learn.
The conversation then started even though it was stagnating a bit on the first day. Tracing the history of video and its development was very fun. I was introduced to some pioneer of video like Num June Paik. Although we had not known him well, “the guests from Jakarta” brought this person closer to me in conversation fluently. Your and my participation would be realized through the use of computer equipment and video camera. Of the nine people presented, I thought maybe only three persons who knew much about the context of conversation that evening, and sometimes they dominated the conversation. In my memory and little note there was only New Media writing on presentation of one of first computers. I had already forgotten the pictures again, but Adel was still able to show them to me on a thin computer with apple bitten logo (Apple Computer logo – red) at that time. Their names were microprocessor and supercomputer. I liked history but I only memorized national history, only the history of Banten actually.
People beside me and I didn’t know about woodcut work of Albrecht Dürer, George Eastman, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir at that time. Only these people were noted down on a big paper which Adel gave for writing material at that time. Once again, I didn’t know much about them in conversation. What I knew first, Adel, Paul, who always reminded us that when we take a shot it shouldn’t become “a yuyu’s eye” (crab’s eye – red.) and “Gaang’s eye” (a kind of insects – red.)
Otty, Hafiz and their son Bodas reminded us to keep being cultured, “One day, you will become big. You have already got potential, start to see where your position is.” We were careful in addressing akumassa material. What I knew second, a man guest, Galib, and a woman guest who disappeared quickly. What I knew last, Ugeng and big Akbar. It was so much pleasure to talk to them about personal experience and collective memory of a past event in Lebak.
Back to the conversation at that time, we talked about one of first moving-picture movie cameras, one which was designed by Louis Le Prince. She said, smiling slightly, that the design could still be seen until now at National Media Museum, England. Short introduction, unclear to be able to be read, the capability to remember wasn’t enough to be relied on, note was the only answer when we got forgetfulness illness.
The first time in my life holding a handy cam was when akumassa workshop. I really had to admit it as a valuable experience to know this thing, camera that was. I didn’t know about movie structure and technology. In my note there was only silent movie era. With ruling out early sound experiment by Dickson in 1894, movie was a pure visual art throughout the 19th century, but this silent movie had given an impact to the people imagination. About 20th century, the development of narrative structure with entwining the scenes into a story had been started. Those scenes eventually split into several shots with different angles and sizes. The inventors and producers had been trying hard to combine picture and sound since the birth of the movie, but there had not been a technology that enabled them to do it until the end of 1920s, because in 3 earlier decades there had been only silent movie. Other technique, like camera move had been realized as an effective way to take a picture of a story in a movie.
Adel often talked to us about Dziga Vertov who had had a role in the world cinema technology development. She said, while sometimes writing on the whiteboard, that he had been the person who encouraged the appearance of change movement in seeing this technology in art perspective. Vertov had put movie and cinema as a new culture in the world art development. The impact of this movement was still felt up to this day, that was how cinema had possibilities beyond the reality and it was placed beyond the actual reality. This was also one of the triggers of the birth of medium experimentation in the world artwork.
In my note there was only the study about Italian neo-realism which was a movie type with story character that was built in the environment of the poor and working class, was filmed straight from the location, and often used the amateur actor. Italian neo-realism movies were mostly faced with the difficult economic situation and mental condition after World War II. It reflected the Italian’s soul change and daily life condition: Poverty and despair.
We were lucky to have a good friend who was loyal to his group. When we watched the new movies which were brought from Forum Lenteng Jakarta, we watched them on a granted television from Helmi Darwan. Previously, Saidjah Forum had only been an empty room with a small library beside it. There had been no television, computer, or that wonderful camera. Akumassa brought us to the television knowledge as a mechanical tool which was transmitted directly, producing moving pictures. The conversation continued to the Television of Republic of Indonesia (TVRI) which had been airing since 1962 at Jakarta. The status of TVRI at this moment was Public Broadcasting Institution. The new media could simply be started with the emergence of technologies which covered digital technology, computerization, or communication technology and information network system at the end of 20th century. The technology which was intended as “the new media” was indeed a digital-based technology which often had manipulated, netted, stuffed, compressed, and equal characteristic.
When we started to work with video, we discussed broadly about the activities in people’s daily social culture practice at our place. Now in our opinion, video wasn’t only limited to the documentation individually anymore but it was also related to the aspiration that took place in the community. For instance, at the screening of akumassa’s work, many people mumbled to their friends while watching. They obviously had reactionary response that related to that video. The video work that was produced by akumassa entered the people’s exterior activities around us.
Various cultures were not appreciated in the actual context with their historical background, which we discussed as a new expression in viewing the present social culture phenomenon development. We admitted that video was a representation of the problem that was revealed based on present or past social experience. The aesthetic supply that we had had already been allocated in works, producing videos and influencing the origin of growth of what Adel and Paul called as a new media, of how actually that media practice was done now. The role of the video which was explored to become a code or symbol became a new media in the making of the cultural art.