[Steve, general comments: to be followed up in the seminar and tutorials. A strong proposal I suggest you 'lean in' to what you have already made and extend that practice in to the new work. consider reordering the paragraphs so the WHAT of the project is in the forefront. will be interested to see how you are making mini-prototypes (hackpacts) for this]
Graduation Project Proposal Draft 2 – October 2018
What do you want to make?
I want to explore the way social and memetic media is used as a democratic tool in present-day Indonesia. One idea would be a research project which exposes or performs a particular aspect of the Indonesian social media environment. For example, a series of publications revealing self-censorhip trends on political platforms, or a collection of experiments in comment-section activism. Example: Stephanie Vilayphiou's project, Blind Carbon Copy.
Another idea would be to take the research from my thesis and use it to design a publishing platform or a tool which promotes the sharing of knowledges still considered precarious or taboo by mainstream Indonesian media. Or a social interaction which challenges current modes of knowledge production and gives young people the opportunity to circumvent or rally against censorship. Compared to the first idea, which is more about commentary and concept, this would mean a more practical intervention in the media landscape. Example: Politwoops which collects and displays deleted tweets from politician's accounts, or Ethira a social platform / mobile app which allowed users to post anonymous and ephemeral messages on a public forum.
How do you plan to make it?
I would start by researching the current media landscape in my home country of Indonesia. In particular, I want to analyse the impact that digital media has had in the economic, cultural and political revolution of the country. How does it contrast to the way traditional media is produced and consumed? Where are the opportunities and barriers when it comes to (self-)censorship, technology, literacy and access? Then, I would like to research how other groups / artists / publishers have tackled this issue in other countries – what kind of tactics do they use? What kinds of reactions and outcomes did they have?
During this time I want to continue last trimester’s experiments of prototyping software that would allow for a) reading information and b) sharing information. For example, could I write a programme which helps me analyse the impact of certain political memes in Indonesia? What about a bot that provokes different modes of discussion? Could I make instances of local networks which allow for the ‘safe’ dissemination of information? What modes of sociality could I embed into a publishing platform – whether that be a political blog, a chat room or a peer-produced library? Once I have defined my goal and my audience I will work on the presentation of the project.
[<Steve suggests: it seems to me that this is your proposal (rather than the first paragraphs- here you have a research question, along the lines of<the impact that digital media has had in the economic, cultural and political revolution of the country> or perhaps it is more specifically < the impact MY digital media can have in the economic, cultural and political revolution of the country> and you already have a practice to which the question can be applied. ]
What is your timetable?
- September - October: research and make an analysis of the current use of social media in Indonesia, find where the gaps are, specify what is really needed and where I could intervene. Contact relevant figures in Indonesia. Research existing media tactics, platforms and services which play in the same context.
- November: Prototype / make sketches of possible outcomes. What kind of structure would it have technically? Who is the end user? When and where would it be useful? What is my role – editor, facilitator, gatekeeper? What are it’s specificities? Continue to develop my position while touching base with relevant figures in Indonesia. Finish project proposal.
- December - March: Develop prototypes, define scope of the project (technically and theoretically). Will it be just a platform or tool? Will it be the beginning of a series? How will I present it in the final exhibition? Sketch this out and start organising the materials and help I’ll need. Complete thesis.
- April - June: Finish practical project, prepare final presentation.
Why do you want to make it? And relation to a larger context
As an artist who was born and raised in Indonesia, my motivations for this project are many-layered. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lack of alternative publishing practices in Indonesia, especially in the arena of politics and culture. Like Eva Weinmayr, I publish to find comrades; but finding like-minded people seems to be getting harder to do in our current era of post-truth politics and radicalism. With this project, I want to contribute to a more open and diverse media landscape in Indonesia.
I also feel a real sense of urgency with this project. Today, Indonesia is at an interesting crossroads in its political and cultural evolution. In 1998, when I was 6 years old, Indonesia's military regime fell, making way for our first democratically elected government. At around the same time, we saw the rapid rise of networked media and Internet culture. As the country's economy strengthened, and its young democracy developed, tens of millions of Indonesians joined the new middle class. Mobile phone and internet usage skyrocketed, cinemas proliferated, and so did the consumption of alternative and pop culture. As a result, the first years of the new millenium felt like a moment of opening up, and of substantial advances in freedom of expression, and freedom of connection.
However, these extended freedoms did not immediately equal a more engaged and empowered civil society. Though we now have more access to knowledge, other forces, both national and trans-national, continue to impede meaningful discourse on more difficult subjects. A low level of media literacy outside of urban centres is one factor. Mainstream media control by political elites is another. But one of the most influential cultural forces in contemporary Indonesian society, is the rise of religious extremism. In the wake of the power vaccuum left by the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship, political Islam (and its conservative ideologies) flourished. The result is a democracy which feels uneven at best, and deceptive at worst. When it comes to public discourse, the state still engages in political censorship, drawing up legislations which inhibit freedom of speech and even condoning attacks on journalists. What is also very intriguing to me is that these mechanisms are becoming internalized, creating an atmosphere of self-censorship and a mob mentality which suppresses debate and discussion. For example, questioning Indonesia’s muslim identity has become taboo – and has even resulted in the 2016 incarceration of the incumbent governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an Indonesian of Chinese descent who was jailed for ‘blaspheming’ against the Qu’ran. While social media runs rampant with political memes about this situation, mainstream Indonesian media still struggles to image any kind of meaningful dissent.
This is why I’m so interested in exploring the potential that vernacular networked media has in promoting democratic discourse. In a country which is becoming more and more sensitive to dissent, social and memetic media, with its polyvocal and participatory quality, represents a valuable space for experimentation and commentary. I want to explore this connection between netizenship and citizenship, and ask not just how one can affect the other but how they could be used to progressive and emancipatory ends. I think this topic is also timely and relevant beyond the context of Indonesia, as politics becomes more polarised across the entire globe, and the internet is increasingly weaponized.
Who can help you and how?
Clara Balaguer, for her experience running an alternative publishing platform in the Philippines. Amy Wu, for her knowledge on censorship in China and the political use of new digital media (memes, social media etc.) Artist and WDKA tutor Reinaart Vanhoe, for his work with Indonesian institution RuangRupa. Other Indonesian designers / artists / publishing spaces currently working in the intersection of media, technology and culture, such as Forum Lenteng, Lifepatch, Taman Baca Kesiman and Magdalene Indonesia.
Relation to previous practice
Questions explored during the Poortgebouw project:
What are the politics of representation and of erasure? The idea of the artist as an archivist (and vice versa). How to tell stories and create communities in precarious contexts?
Questions explored during the OuNuPo project:
Technology is not a neutral practice. What cultures do we reproduce when we write programmes? How can we design platforms or tools with an attitude? Who is included / excluded in the process of knowledge production?
Questions explored during the XPPL / Interfacing the Law project:
How do you engage with unstable information? Can we design reading / searching interfaces that are able to represent uncertainty, locate outsides, explore agonisms? How can we intervene during the process of ‘downloading’ and ‘uploading’ information? Where are the grey areas when it comes to accessing and distributing knowledge?
Link to annotated bibliography
Feedback from Joca, Dorothy and Zhibin
focus on sociality and personal experience gives the project a strong context / point of view
interesting references to other projects
strong practice, use it to lead your proposal
there's a doubt in the starting paragraph, which is interesting in itself, but how to resolve it?
make a decision in what you're going to make, what kind of platform is it going to be?
bring up the why and the what to the beginning
include your prototypes!