Projects / Social Commentary

Week 3-4: “The map is not the territory” *)

*) A famous dictum from a Polish-American thinker, Alfred Korzybski.

Thoughts on various ways of Mapping : An abstraction

I approach the idea of mapping  from a social history point of view. As you might have guess, it gets pretty complex and abstract rather quickly. Where do you begin? Through examining and observation the past three weeks, forest would be a wise option to make it center of interest and then go from there. People whom lives in Dlingo and Muntuk centers their livelihood around forest so, to me it made sense to start from there. And then what sort of possible map out there to be made? Why and how? From whose point of view?

What would the visualization looks like?

Bengkung

To find Bengkung is such a treat of its own. I shall try to put into sentences. Stepping into Bengkung almost feels like traveling to the past. No, I suppose the closest thing I could describe to those who has yet been there would be like going to an open-living forest museum inside a younger forest area. It is both eerie and elating. Walking into a thick tropical forest with large, wise, old trees and butterflies to greet you. It is beautiful and scary at the same time.

We were accompanied by the daughter of the ‘Juru Kunci’. Juru Kunci is equivalent to a curator I suppose. She spoke mostly Javanese that I could barely understand. From the stories and testimonies of people who have been there, they relate the place to a mysterious and dangerous place to be. Place where people crave for its magical water that can heal diseases. Place where people do certain types of meditations at auspicious dates. Place where the invisible Sultanate centre are. Place where it has certain vibe that people rather avoid than to enjoy.

I personally find it important in historical sense and also aesthetic sense. If it were true that this is one of the place where Sultan Agung of Mataram does his retreat, the place witness important decisions he made during his reign. Even when it weren’t true, this water source has  been guarded for so long, it could’ve date all the way to 17th century.  I suppose I must thank the Sultanate power over territories and managed to keep it conserved.  This is what I would call Forest conservation, or conserved forest.

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Let us draw at the Pine Forest ! (Oh dear.)

We had a surprising turn of event for activities on Friday with the children. That day I thought to take an easy day and watch short animations with them. It was quite nice, but not exactly as what I hoped for. I learned that presence of a stranger in class could really change how they behave and think about things. But then, they were happy to be offered to draw and Arwin and Fehung raised the idea to draw in the forest. They were ecstatic!

I was on the other hand, worried. Bringing ten kids to the forest, I had to worry about their safety. Until I had to stop myself and thought, they are much more familiar with the area and I do.

It was such a fun activity to do, drawing forest landscape in the open air. Through this activity we learned that Widi, one of the kids may possess a great talent for drawing.

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Thinking about aesthetics

One of the advantage of doing a research residency with people from different discipline is that you get to live and talk about a certain topic of interest for a period of time. You live in a strange place, with people who were strangers, observing local people and how they live and eventually talk about it. Talking with Fehung whose interest is purely aesthetic and experimental for instance has brought my thoughts into thinking about aesthetics. In particular, how do you introduce aesthetics to a society that could not care less about beauty? What aesthetics? Whose aesthetics?

The longer I stay here, the more I notice oddities and contradictions. I mean this village is surrounded by forest and has rich plant diversities. It has beautiful weather and cool air to breathe. But on the other hand, their lives are no difference with those in manufactures with no end in sight for production. The only difference is that they live in the mountains and not in a factory with four walls. Their speed is city speed. Their speed is to fulfill city needs and thus their needs. I suppose only now I understand the full extent of what production forest really means. This revelation reminds me of what the forest ranger told me, there is nothing good in these soils. And to be honest it makes me a little bit sad.

Family Tree and Enclaves

One of the issue that came up with Marco’s visit other than the dimension of time and soundscape was family relation is the village. It was said that the whole village basically came from four families. So, everyone is more than just someone’s cousin in this village. He or she would be several people’s cousin. Most born and lives in the village. Or went to other cities and then came back. So you could imagine how close knitted these people bloods are. I did a small experiment to try and visualize how thick family relations are around here. I worked with children to draw their family tree on an A4 paper. We will see on Friday how it looks like.

 

 

 

 

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