For tens of thousands of years trees have been by people’s side, helping them out. These familiar trees can be found being used in the design world too. South East Asia too has a rich history; inside the designs are this history of tired lives and social and political issues. The technique known woodcut print processing design involved impressing the wood with a knife and using ink to stamp.
This technique involved getting a thick bit of wood and carving the bottom image, then using a different kind of knife to flesh out detail. This wooden printing press is an artistic technique. This technique originated from China as it allowed an easy method to print the Chinese characters and was intended for people to create letters and banners to show one another. In particular, advanced woodcutting techniques were one of the methods used to create posters or banners.
The industrial revolution led to the creation of new techniques regarding print production methods in the modern area, though it demanded highly skilled hands. It also required waiting a long six hours or so until the ink dried.
This engraving printing technique also shows some social issues; you’re able to find design that shows understanding and sympathy in Central Java’s Maya Tower Festival.
There were many kinds of posters, but out of those, the bottom image ‘Ada Dan’ was a visual communication student’s piece of work, and contains a detailed beauty about calling for the protection of plant life, whilst also calling for the protection of the natural environment and Indonesia’s organic way of life.
Looking inside the poster, the movement of the clouds and waves, as well as the liveliness of the leaves of the plants produces a fresh feeling. The typography of the image, and it’s cleanliness, is enthralling of people. Of particular note, the alphabet had to be written backwards due to the nature of woodcut printing. If you look even closer, you can see even more political and social issues reflected in this traditional design.
The image above of a door featuring a lion and a lady goes hand in hand with today’s high issues. This engraving involved cutting small wood blocks one by one and is one of the greatest designs which is packed full of meaning.
If you look at the contexts from top to bottom, the lion with and the diamond in its mouth represents the powerful government, and the dolled up woman is representative of the weak, simple human. The woman wears flowers and crystals in her ears, a short skirt and high heels, showing the beautiful modern style of women. Notably, on her left side there is an unripened pineapple, and this can be seen as a mark of Indonesia abandoning its traditional heritage. This also shows the sexual problems of modern men and women. There’s also something doing drugs and playing cards around the woman’s legs, representative of a society addicted to drugs and playing cards, and valuing money over kindness. The moon filled night also shows the darkness of the modern age.
Through this traditional woodcutting experience, the Indonesian designers have allowed the viewers a more rich depth of mixed feelings and images regarding the political and social issues of the world surrounding them.
Dalton, B. 1988, Indonesia handbook, Moon Publications, Chico, Calif., USA.
Art for the people – Inside Indonesia 2016, Inside Indonesia. viewed 10 March 2016, <http://www.insideindonesia.org/art-for-the-people>.
Creating, cutting and printing your own woodblock 2016, Instructables.com. viewed 10 March 2016, <http://www.instructables.com/id/Creating-cutting-and-printing-your-own-woodblock/>.
The Printed Image in the West: Woodcut | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016, The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. viewed 10 March 2016, <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/wdct/hd_wdct.htm>.