#TulisanDariJauh #1

Ponsel tipis meluncur dari saku depan baju saya ketika sedang membungkuk. Sudutnya menghantam ubin hitam lantai swalayan tempat saya sedang berbelanja. Terpekik, lekas-lekas saya angkat ponsel itu. Permukaan layarnya sudah dipenuhi guratan. Retak parah hingga tak bereaksi ketika disentuh. Sempat mengumpat, tapi apa boleh buat. Saya selipkan ponsel ke saku celana sambil tetap menyelesaikan belanja bulanan.

Sepanjang jalan pulang, saya masih mencoba-coba, berharap retak bak jaring laba-laba itu tidak separah kelihatannya. Percuma. Ponsel saya benar-benar tak bekerja. Pun tak lama baterainya habis. Saya memilih untuk melanjutkan jalan kaki sambil berpikir apa yang harus saya lakukan; membeli baru atau memperbaiki ponsel ini. Namun, jeda menjadi manusia ‘tanpa’ ponsel ini membuat saya merasakan kemewahan.

Sebelum ponsel itu rusak, tiap lima menit saya selalu memeriksanya. Adakah notifikasi yang masuk? Apa ada perubahan jadwal kuliah? Ada tugas apa lagi dan kapan harus dikumpulkan? Ada berita baru apa di Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, atau Path? Ponsel ini, bagi saya, membebaskan sekaligus memenjarakan. Saya bisa berkomunikasi dengan mudah: menghubungi teman, saudara, maupun kolega di mana pun kapan pun selama ada koneksi internet. Membaca berita yang sesuai dengan minat saya. Belajar berkerajinan tangan, memasak, hingga membuat video stop motion hanya dengan menonton pengarahan di Youtube. Tapi di sisi lain, saya dikejar notifikasi, dikejar berita-berita yang saya minati, hingga iklan-iklan yang selalu muncul setelah benda terkait saya cari di Google. Seperti tahanan dalam penjara Panopticon-nya Jeremy Bentham, ada mata tak terlihat yang terus mengikuti langkah saya.

Absennya ponsel membuat saya memperhatikan sekitar. Hal-hal kecil yang sering saya abaikan ketika jalan kaki menjadi menarik. Pemain musik di jalan-jalan, anak-anak yang bermain balon sabun, hingga kakek nenek  yang duduk berbincang di kursi taman. Tidak ada ponsel di genggaman mereka. Beberapa membaca koran – bukan digital, hal yang sudah lama tidak saya lakukan. Membaca berita lewat layar ponsel seringkali melelahkan bagi saya. Begitu banyak berita hoaks yang membuat kegiatan membaca artikel online menjadi sebuah investigasi panjang dan berantai. Di sudut jalan lainnya, saya berpapasan dengan beberapa pejalan kaki. Earphone menancap di telinga mereka, menciptakan gelembung dunia mereka sendiri. Sebagian mendengarkan musik. Sisanya berbincang dengan orang di ujung telepon yang lain. Earphone bagai perisai dengan dunia sekitar, menjadi penanda sedang tak bisa/ingin diajak bicara.

 

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*Difoto oleh Lavinia Elysia, thanks Nia! 😀

 

Hening tanpa notifikasi, saya memilih duduk sebentar di tepi jalan. Belanjaan bulanan saya letakkan di samping kaki. Saya keluarkan buku sketsa kecil dan mulai merekam apa yang saya lihat melalui goresan pulpen. Beberapa orang berhenti dan mengajak berbincang. Anak-anak yang tadinya bermain, ikut mendekat. Inilah kemewahan itu. Untuk berada di satu tempat dan benar-benar berada di sana. Pikiran saya tidak melayang ke foto-foto yang ditampilkan di media sosial, tidak pula pada kegiatan balas membalas pesan instan. Ketika menggambar, saya memperhatikan sekeliling hingga ke detail terkecil. Pepohonan, warna-warna spanduk, jendela-jendela rumah, dan toko di pinggir jalan. Pemandangan yang biasa dilihat sehari-hari, menjadi terasa baru. Seperti berkenalan lagi dengan lingkungan lama.

 

Hari mulai gelap, jalanan berangsur sepi. Saya memutuskan untuk pulang. Langkah kaki membawa saya ke hadapan pintu rumah. Tujuh belas tahun lalu, Minggu sore saya akan diramaikan oleh bunyi bel rumah. Ketika membuka pintu, saya akan menemukan beberapa teman SD duduk di atas sepeda mereka. Tak salah lagi, pasti menanyakan tugas sekolah yang dikumpulkan Senin. Meski pada akhirnya akan ditutup dengan perbincangan tentang kelereng, gasing, atau mainan terbaru yang patut dicermati – karena sulit merayu ibu untuk membeli – di warung depan sekolah kami. Saat itu, berkomunikasi lewat telepon adalah kemewahan. “Tak boleh lama-lama, mahal bayarnya!” begitu pesan orang rumah. Dan kini, saya ‘agak’ merindukan masa itu. Ketika menelepon di atas jam 8 malam adalah tabu, tak sopan, dan mengganggu. Kartu ucapan selamat masih dikirim lewat pos seminggu sebelum hari-hari besar dan mengetahui alamat lengkap rumah teman menjadi kebutuhan (biasanya berawal dari kegiatan menulis biodata di buku diary teman). Janji temu dibuat jauh-jauh hari dan pembatalan di detik terakhir adalah peristiwa langka.

 

Seminggu kemudian. Minggu malam jam 11:30 ponsel saya berbunyi. Layarnya menyala menampilkan notifikasi. Ada email. Saya tekan layar si ponsel baru, hanya untuk mendapati revisi tugas yang harus dikumpulkan besok siang. Revisi yang seharusnya saya terima berhari-hari sebelumnya. Ah, demikianlah kutukan memiliki ponsel yang bekerja, apa iya saya manusia merdeka? Jangan-jangan saya ini tahanan ponsel saya sendiri. Seorang kawan sudah sejak lama memutuskan untuk mematikan ponsel di akhir pekan. “Untuk menenangkan pikiran,” ujarnya. Di hari tenang itu, dia akan menjelajah sudut kota yang jarang ia datangi. Terkadang menyeberang ke kota lain. Saya sendiri skeptis saat itu. Bukannya bagaimanapun seseorang perlu mengecek ponselnya jika ada pekerjaan mendadak atau kabar penting? Apalagi di era digital seperti sekarang. Tapi malam itu saya berpikir mungkin sudah saatnya saya menggenggam kembali kemerdekaan saya dengan memilih untuk juga berakhir pekan tanpa ponsel. Dan deklarasi sepertinya diperlukan agar saya mendapat kedaulatan: Sabtu dan Minggu harus merdeka dari email revisi tugas yang tak sopan!

 

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#sketsaresep: Tahu. Cabe. Garam

Unggahan kali ini terinspirasi dari kak Nitchii yang menceritakan proses membuat sketsa resep dalam bentuk postcard. 

Untuk #sketsaresep tahu cabe garam, urutan bahan yang dimasukkan dapat dilihat dari seberapa dekat dia dengan si wajan. Bahan terdekat adalah yang mula-mula dimasukkan. Yah, ini sih masih sketsa coba-coba. Pertanyaan, saran, dan kritik diterima untuk perbaikan di sketsa berikutnya. Selamat memasak!

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Niels Hoebers: Animate the Inanimate

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Hoebers’ working space

“You always want to give them a name so you can kind of bond with them,” says Niels Hoebers, an animator and designer who runs a stop-motion studio in Eindhoven, while putting Walter, one of his handmade puppets, back on his desk. There, Walter, who wears ivory sweater and black trousers sewn by Hoebers’ mother, sits on a mini chair next to Hoebers’ computers. During the creation of ‘Walter, A Dialogue with the Imagination’, Hoebers had to think and act like Walter. “I think Walter is quite an alter ego of mine,” says Hoebers. In the animation, Walter-the-puppet comes to realize that he is controlled by his animator. Toward the end of the movie, however, Walter begins to move by himself. This animation won the Best Stop-Motion up to 10 minutes category in the 2012 International Stop-Motion Festival of Brazil. “Creating Walter has been an important part of my life,” says Hoebers, “It was a huge shift in my career path, from being a designer to become an animator.”
This year, Hoebers collaborates with Maarten Baas, a Dutch product designer who is also the ambassador of the Dutch Design Week 2016, to create a stop motion animation of the making of CLAY, Baas’ furniture series that celebrates its 10 years in the industry. Instead of framing the story in 2016, Hoebers chooses to make a twist and set it in 2056 to celebrate the 50 years of CLAY. He shows the animation of 80-ish-year-old Baas-the-puppet’s daily life in his studio: awakes, drinks a cup of coffee, throws a chunk of clay to a spin wheel to randomly decide which product he will make next and pulls a lever to send his finish product down to the showroom. He gets the inspiration from Marten’s Grandfather Clock film performance, in which a person is stuck inside a clock and his only purpose is to make the clock ticks in real time. But where does his dexterity in creating stop-motion animation come from?
Hoebers grew up in Horst, a village in the southeastern part of the Netherlands. His late grandmother was a Christmas puppet-maker and he was always fascinated by the use of puppets in stop-motion movies, especially those by Jim Henson, such as The Muppet Movie (1979), Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). In his secondary education, he chose to study electricity and then became an electrician for 3 years after he graduated. In 2004, 23-year-old Hoebers found a great interest in lamp design which led his way to study at Design Academy. While studying Man and Leisure at the Design Academy, Hoebers did an internship at Se-ma-for, an animation studio in Poland, where he found his passion for making animations. He made a stop motion video and animation cabinet for his graduation projects in 2010. This was the point when Walter was created. A puppet with an existential crisis that became the main cast of Niels’ 5-minute stop motion animation.
Ten years after he graduated, Hoebers owns a 110m2 studio. The two-story stop-motion studio is like a basement laboratory where he makes his puppet ‘alive’. It contains his office, shooting station, and a workshop, where he makes miniatures and props for the animations. He covers all of the windows in his shooting station with black materials to block direct sunlight. Several tripods, motion control sliders, and sets from his previous works are arranged on three sides of walls of this station. And in front of the other side is a huge table that supports the set of Baas’ studio. His former profession as an electrician come in handy to create small electrical appliances inside the mini-studio. Besides that, he put his signature by making David Bowie, his inspirational figure, on the cover of a mini-magazine as a decoration inside the maquette.
Hoebers has also worked with Dirk van der Kooij, a Dutch furniture designer who made a 3D printer with a robotic arm. For this collaboration project, he made a miniature of the 3D printer. The 15cm model looks like a crane arm attaches to a small tube, which is apparently the nozzle of whipped cream can. “I sometimes prefer to do an animation of machines like this because it leaves a little bit more to the imagination than a real puppet,” he says. Through his stop-motion videos, he brings to life the inanimate objects. The 3D printer seems like it has feelings; a sadness when it couldn’t print a chair faster, and even a confusion when it fails to print a chair leg.
Though Hoebers is fond of doing collaborations, he still does several commissioned works to earn living. Recently, he joined a talent search to win a whole year financial support from the Playground Festival, a motion graphic and animation festival in Breda and Amsterdam. He dreams of making his own stop-motion project and a stop-motion lab for students, “Animation schools in Holland don’t support stop motion so much.” The limitation in equipment and puppet-making skills have become the hindrances. Even more, there are more advanced ways of making a perfect animation such as CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery). Nevertheless, Hoebers believes that stop-motion animations will last. There might be choppy frames, awkward movements of puppets or any other flaws in a stop-motion animation, but all of them signify a touch of human hands in the making process. Such imperfections are what the audiences – the imperfect human beings – can always relate.

This profile was written in 2016.

Introduction of Aric Chen

This introduction was made to be presented at the DAE panel discussion “Stretching the Museum: New Opportunities for Curating Design” in the 2017 Milan Design Week.
Aric Chen
Aric Chen

I am an Indonesian, studying in Design Curating and Writing Master’s Programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Once, I told my tutor, “Most of the museum history and curating books that we read, tell the stories from European perspectives, but I haven’t found enough narratives from Asia.”

Then in 2016, I read about M+, a museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, due to open in 2019.  The museum will focus on 20th and 21st-century art, design, and architecture, and moving image. So, what it is to become a lead curator of design and architecture at the M+ museum in Hong Kong – a part of the largest continent in the world and the country where the copying phenomenon plays such a defining role?

For Aric Chen, who is currently in that position, it is the time to see everything through a different lens. Instead of shunning the problematic imitating phenomenon in Asia, Chen embraces it and has acquired some counterfeits for the museum. In his latest curatorial project for the M+ pavilion, he exhibited the blueprint of Hans Tan’s Copy-Tiam Chair. This chair has been considered as the archetypal chair design for Kopitiam – local coffee shops – in Singapore. Despite the fact that it was originally designed by Michael Thonet, the German-Austrian furniture maker, in 1859. Tan has even published this blueprint to be copied for free. It showed the vulnerability of originality and contested the notion of copying in the age of open source.

The rise of the plastics industry in Hong Kong has also played a big part in its copying culture. This material has been shaped and molded to impersonate other materials. Chen has displayed various domestic objects from the 1960s through the 80s, such as crystal plates and crystal chandeliers, which are made of plastic. The endless possibilities of plastics in imitating different surfaces seem to construct the very idea of counterfeiting.

Besides this topic, Chen also examines the issue of identity through the acquisition of 75 Watt, a choreographed performance in design manufacture. The workers’ movements in the factory are not based on the shape of the objects; on the contrary, it is their movements that determine the outcomes. Staging this exhibition in Hong Kong, an hour’s train ride from the center of mass-manufacturing in the southern part of China, Chen confronted the hierarchy in the manufacturing process, in which the agency of human and objects has been blurred.

Looking through objects, Aric Chen invites us to see things afresh, from a distinctly Asian point of view. His choice to put Asia in the center stage of M+ – as the eyes that witness rather than looking through the Western World’s perspectives – can be seen his unveiling a broader and richer narrative on the part of design museums.

Please welcome, Aric Chen!

Biography of Pierre Bastien

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Pierre Bastien, the French composer and multi-instrumentalist, can be seen as contemporary Victor Frankenstein in the musical landscape. Instead of assembling parts of corpses, Bastien brings together everyday objects, musical instruments, and model construction kits to create musical contraptions. The movement of flywheel, gears and other Meccano elements become the driving force of his musical automatons.

Bastien did his doctoral dissertation on the French-writer Raymound Roussel’s works. In one of Roussel’s novel: Impressions of Africa, he read about a fictional musical instrument, which is called a ‘thermodynamic orchestra’. Several components of the orchestra are made of a ‘new metal’ called bexium. The temperature sensitivity of the new metal propels the instrument to play music on its own. This was what inspired Bastien to create musical contraptions.

In 1986, Bastien formed his own one-man-orchestra entitled Mecanium. In this ensemble, rather than asking people to play the instruments, he brought the orchestra alive by connecting each of them to Meccano and electronic parts. Teeth of gears meshed with the bronze bars of a Javanese saron produced a series of clangs. Rotating wheels attached to a bow that drew across the strings of a vertically-standing Chinese lute to create rattles. A beater swung up and down, prodded by two rotating plates, to create thudding on the surface of a Moroccan bendir.

Until 2017, Bastien has released at least 20 albums and several compilations. His latest album entitled Blue as an Orange was launched in 2015. If Mecanium is inspired by Roussel’s novel, the name of this album is inspired by Paul Eluard’s poem, The Earth is Blue like an Orange. The first track, Tin Unit, reminds me of the daily sounds I hear in my kitchen. The scratches, pops and clangs of a can opener, the tick-tock of my clock, and the low buzzes from the streets. All are wrapped with the melodies of a wind instrument. Each sound evokes different emotions, from the peaceful repetitive knocks to the sad slow tempo toots of brass.

With his works, Bastien has crafted objects that can be enjoyed both aurally and visually. In his stage performances, every part of his musical contraptions is exposed. He shows how the sounds are made without human operators. However, Bastien also realizes that using machines does not always lead to perfection. He does not aim to beautify the sounds nor the appearance of the contraptions. Each and every little glitch his machines produce resembles the imperfection of human hands, which makes them more alive.

All in all, Bastien’s love of literature has inspired him to build many of his works. Listening to his music is like reading a series of onomatopoeia poems. Imagine the “..husha-husha-hush…” in Carl Sandburg’s poem Jazz Fantasia or “The jingling and the tinkling…” of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bell. And his dexterity in combining things to play music has challenged the common way of creating melodies. He gives a voice to everyday objects. Now, please welcome, Pierre Bastien!

 

This biography was made to introduce Pierre Bastien at the Objects as Actors Symposium (January 25th, 2017), Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.

The Revival of Instant Camera

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The present my sisters gave me before I went to Eindhoven

As my index finger clicked on the shutter button, the instant camera made a whirring sound. A credit card-sized photo was then ejected from the exit slot and a moment later the image on it started to develop. I pulled it out. If it were an instant camera from a bygone age, I would have flapped the print back and forth afterward to dry the ink. However, since mine was a contemporary one, the photograph in my palm emerged fully developed. I looked at the counter on the back of my camera: three shots left.

Seemingly forgotten and replaced by digital technology, the instant camera has found its way back to the world of photography. Several brands of instant cameras such as Fuji Instax, Kodak, and the legendary Polaroid have regained their popularity. For people acquainted with the instant camera in earlier times, the particular shutter sound, the short wait until the image appears and the lack of control over the results can bring a nostalgic feeling absent in a digital camera. These feelings arguably instigated the resurgence of instant cameras.

On the other hand, most people from generation Z, who have been exposed to the digital world since birth, might find the experience of using an instant camera utterly new. To begin with, the absence of an LCD screen indicates that nothing can be seen before the photo is printed and nothing can be edited. This limitation is rather novel for those who were born in the mid-2000s. There are chances that you will get a photo which is either too dark or too bright, in which your eyes are closed or your hair covers half of your face. Yet, the instant camera is popular again because the imperfections it captures are somehow so human. With digital cameras, you can take hundreds of photos, save the good ones, delete the rest and re-touch your photos until they look perfect. With the instant camera, taking a picture must be done more carefully and with intention. Even more, an instant film cartridge can only provide 8 to a maximum of 20 prints depends on the brand. Once the shutter button is pressed, the instant photo emerges and that is it—there is no way to modify it.

The tangibility of the photos taken makes instant photography distinctive. Nevertheless, some people end up converting the photos into digital format to be posted on the internet. Online communities, such as Polanoid.net, instantfilmsociety.com, and lomography.com, are established as gathering places for instant camera users. They share photos and have discussions about techniques used in capturing the moment.  The digital world complements the return of instant photography in contemporary society. Additionally, instant camera brands such as Polaroid have created a product that provides an option for the user to save the photo digitally to make it relevant with today’s technology.

It has been a month since I first used my Fuji Instax. I have taken only 7 photos. For me, to see the instant photos unfold right before my eyes is the thing that makes instant camera irreplaceable when almost everything has gone digital.

Credit to DCW co-head for the editing suggestions.