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

The Perspective of Reciprocal Dimension

Written by Rayhan Pratama

This article is part of an anthology published by Forum Lenteng, entitled Diorama: Since History is Fiction (2016). We re-publish it on AKUMASSA’s website in the framework of “Darivisual”.

Since the beginning, I felt very restricted when I saw diorama. How can I not, through the presence of ‘threshold’ of iron, glass and lighting, I do not really had the freedom to understand the narrative of the time and I thought the freedom was actually only in ‘there’, in the diorama. I started to felt restless when sights neither was nor constrained by space. However, we had always been led to see the milestones descriptively which offer one point of view only. The interaction between the clay with clay and its landscapes as well as the ambience through the effects of light, precisely narrow down my sights. Reality that is a three-dimensional miniature of diorama that should be seen from any side imprisons my perception completely. In case of that, now I sued visual that offered by diorama for my view. This declaration was not a joke, and therefore with a camera, I would never miss even one inch of the observations through my camera.

It seemed not only me that was claimed for sued, but also there are many other visitors who sue and confront directly in front of me. For example, there was a father explaining to his two children about the history of each diorama. To clarify and emphasize what is meant by the diorama, he was not pointing the objects with his finger, but with an umbrella which he brought. With the big-yellow-umbrella, he pointed to some of the figures which he meant as a form of resistance to the presence of a limited glass to look further into. With the umbrella, he tried to penetrate the boundaries it is accompanied by knocked the glass that bothers me.

Man is the creator. I think it was the appropriate sentence, if the reference with our easy to produce images and reproduce images, even digitally. Diorama at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta which amounted to 51 dioramas that we can reproduce into the form of digital images and can be done in less than one hour. The presence of selfietechniques either held directly by hand or by tongsis (selfie stick), will provide a different experience than asking others to photograph ourselves in front of the works of diorama. Consciously, people was pressing the capture button and holding the tongsis to put themselves with the background of dioramas, and also consciously make the selection on the viewpoint of the desired capture. Different from the video-camera-holder behavior, some visitors at different times in action become a tour guide in front of the camera and backs diorama with describing brief explanations descriptively and orally. So these actions, even those that did not present themselves directly together in diorama, but just focused on documenting the photos and videos that pointed at the diorama glass box, it provides an opportunity for them to demand the freedom of the visual that had been offered.

Sudjojono’s Painting and Indonesian Landscape

The term of mooi Indie had been used to title the eleven reproduction watercolor landscape painting of Du Chattell that published in the form of portfolio in Amsterdam back in 1930. However, the term became popular in the Hinda-Belanda since S. Sudjojono using it to mock painters in his sights on 1939. He said that the nice scenery paintings, nice paced, romantic like in heaven, quiet and peaceful, only contained with one meaning: mooi Indie (Beautiful Indies). Mooi Indie’s paintings was fairly easy to known, such as mountains landscape, fields, trees, flowers, ponds, or the others. In addition, the mooi Indie also brings beauty and exoticism of inlanders’ women and men, which are presented as the villagers1

Mooi Indie paintings became conceptions embody of Indonesia or Hindia-Belanda at that time by Western painters with the beautiful natural exotic landscape and inlanders people as a background painting decorative objects. Through the works of painting, Sudjojono take action to counter by showed painting objects of inlanders’ people with Indonesian landscape as the background. By accentuating the presence of self inlanders’ people and tropical nature merely as a background, Sudjojono have done a critical action in conceptualize of what was Indonesia and provide new translation of the who the people of Indonesia, and both of them was seen as a form of resistance.

Now, we have a right to contemplate who we are as citizens of Indonesia and what is Indonesia today. With all invention and innovation, today we can easily percept ourselves and describe it in text and visual freely. All fetter of restriction perspective is no longer relevant today. We are independently entitled to attend and contribute to write our own history. Autobiography can be created with technology that is present today, for example, Wikipedia which based on a collaborative project, a personal blog, Vlog (Video Blog) on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook which always offered us to share a status as well as uploaded pictures of our past. Similarly, the presence of tongsis (selfie stick) is a simple form of innovation that allows us to photograph ourselves (selfie) by ourselves as an active subject. The mobile phone industry is now competing and created many innovations that allow us to do that by presenting the techniques selfie front and rear camera. If in the past we were behind the camera (capturing position), the camera is now just ahead of us by presenting us.

The difference with some of the works of Sudjojono who fought through the presence of the Indigenous people themselves as objects painting, selfie action is to make ourselves as object and subject of the current image. The presence of dioramas at Monas, is no longer presented as a work that can only be seen, but also can be a background object experiences in autobiographical action. Self-appearance of narcissistic intuitive that humans consciously set in diorama presented by the creator in a selfie way to provide ‘self sign’ at the same time with ‘body and location’ experience of the works that have been created. With that action, the cards that signify ownership inventory manager (government) are less relevant anymore. With the camera, diorama has been ‘tagged’ by the awareness of visitors. Captures of the camera could easily be uncovering each diorama. This action is more than just exploitation, but also a form of resistance and forms a lawsuit over the supposed presence of the nature of three-dimensional diorama -but was only present in two dimensions- with the selection perspective that has been determined before.

We only get one point of view, which means only one option where the glass wanted us to see what displays presented through limited angles. It reminds me of the television, with only one-way interaction between the television stations and audience, so that the audience did not have the power to pick and choose what they see. Not to mention the commercial need, political and so forth are embodied in its programs. Both, television and diorama, do not just limit ourselves to the glass, but also politically monopolize our visual by putting ourselves as passive spectators. We are not autonomous in understanding the narrative or history, although we treated with various television channels as well as a wide selection of other diorama.

Reciprocate Dimension

Watchdog, can be defined as a dog that keep the property and also can be interpreted as a person or group that acts as a protector or guard against inefficiency, illegal practices, and so on. However, the term is also used in media carrying out their functions oversee and identify social problems currently in the process of public policy making, illegal activity, immorality, the issue of consumer protection, and environmental degradation like a watchdog to warn others when problems are detected. Now, through the offer of television programs has presented the critical power of citizens in the television itself. Although the actual sprung television programs on behalf of citizen journalism, but in the end, the works of citizens of both text and audiovisual equipment also modified in selection process. Through citizen journalism which had potential to cause critical power and offer a different perspective (from the mainstream media), as well as the citizens are given a role to run the watchdog function that directly related to the surrounding environment. The reality of television today, in fact, had no longer had a presumption in favor of the citizens with their capital and participate in the political factor in it. Therefore, if we dislike the channel, we can just change the channel or turn off the television. Unlike the internet, just bring out the interactive way of the internet that can connect all interrelated and interacted at any time (Hadi, 2005: 25). In fact, people are given the freedom to manage the good news as a news producer and consumer of news in social media. Social media has become a room of interaction in virtual reality. Virtual reality allows what is being said by Paul Virilio in The Aesthetics of Disappearance, namely “…to make something that is supernatural, imaginary, even that was not plausibly be seen as reality” (in Hadi, 2005: 19). The similarity with diorama, in the presence, diorama as channels in the country said that history is no longer a single object for us to understand as a precise history of reality. Today, we can understand the diorama in a better way either as part of a historical reality that occurred and the history that we need to criticize through the limited perspective of the diorama that we can see.

Through these limitations in this project, the limitations that gives us the chance to create a new narrative with the way of enlargement. With a camera and a telephoto lens, I was experimenting with the corner of my spotlight. I change the angle of the spotlight of miniatures, which actually located quite far apart with my camera to look closer and interactive. Many observations that usually missed from our eyes was found through the camera, although the effort required is quite large as to cross the threshold of fence and tilt my head to get the angle that I wanted. There is one scene that I think is visually interesting to discuss, namely the presence of three pairs of feet laying in the corner of a large meeting room in one of many dioramas. Apart from the element of ignorance or negligence, artistic consequences on the layout of a narrative that we need to read in one unified work of diorama. I am tempted to frame those three pairs of legs laying on that corner with capturing pictures. Instead of just being debated in our memory, a frame that might someday be used to bore a small narrative as part of the history.

The camera gives me the freedom and opportunity to behave autonomously in determining the visual that I want. I think this is not only because I managed to expose the diorama, but also because I managed to identify gestures that indigenous people usually did. With the camera, we actually have much better access to look far and see the diorama in detail even at the corners of the diorama that escaped the observation through the eye. Consciously, I was given a lot of access in exploring and can easily frame the image through the narration I want.

The presence of binoculars technology such as cameras, offered a new idea for us to be involved in overseeing the diorama itself. Although it’s imposed only in two dimensions and only one point of view, the presence of technology that I use as a tool to fight against the limitations. In addition, the camera can become a part of us to access the visual more further and see the narratives that are not covered by the eyes. In looking at the potential of the camera as a power opportunity, we are actually under the shadow of surveillance itself. How can we not, when we were so close examining the diorama, our presence is precisely the objects of surveillance through CCTV cameras, which placed at each corner of Monas, and controlled in supervisor room. Our gestures and behaviors were watched (and restricted), with no privacy and transparency. CCTV cameras are not only a tool to keep an eye on us, but also as a reference in determining the policy applied to the visitors of Monas. It may provides the new ‘threshold’, such as the addition of guards and camera usage policies.

In terms of watching and being watched, also about borderless freedom of internet that was promised, it is a new subject that has a same relationship back and forth, in the infinite dimension. Internet actually gives us an opportunity to break the deadlocks as well as the possibility to get stuck in a glass box which full of oversight, which is even difficult to detected by people.

Through the website and the Google Street View, we can enjoy a three-dimensional experience that we can create ourselves. It does not require the sophisticated tools that are owned by Google, but with the Android phone or digital SLR camera is enough to make street view-photo through pictures around us. Captured these photos merged connect the dots using the features available in Google’s official page. The photos have been merged into a blog or website will generate a 360-degree panoramic images, and will be shown on Google Maps so everyone can see through google.com/maps/views. We can access the location that has been found or not. Conversely, everyone can also access us.

The experience of seeing a three-dimensional diorama that was offered to us but also not, can be created by ourselves and we can easily upload and share with others through visual awareness that is critically supervised. Moreover, people were given the opportunity to get visual access that we demand to the diorama. ***


Hadi, Astar. (2005). Matinya Cyber Space: Kritik humanis Mark Slouka Terhadap Jagat Maya. Yogyakarta.

About the author


Rayhan Pratama

Rayhan Pratama (Bogor, 1993) got his Bachelor of Criminology from University of Indonesia. In 2015, he was the Chairperson of Wepreventcrime, a student magazine that reviews crime issues. In 2016-2017, Rayhan was active in Forum Lenteng as DIORAMA Program Coordinator.

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