Post D: Indonesian Punks of Banda Aceh

The sub-culture of Punk has always interested me. From the clothing style, people, music and core ideologies involved, Punk sub-cultures can be seen around the world raising their middle fingers at a variety of social, cultural and political contexts.

In the Vice documentary Punk Vs Sharia (2014), elements of the Indonesian Punk scene are explored. In Banda Aceh, a city located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Islamic Sharia law is enforced. Sharia “is the moral, legal and religious code followed by all Muslims” (Taylor 2014), and with the implementation of Sharia law in Aceh, alternative Punk groups have become the target of police and authoritarian figures. “Punk is seen as a threat to the authorities and those who are power hungry” (Vice 2014, 4:10) states a street punk of Banda Aceh.

On the exterior, the interviewed Indonesian Punks are clad in military style boots, ripped jeans, customised biker jackets and anti-establishment patches. However, the punks are quick to point out their connection to punk ideals are deeper than clothing and music. “Punk is not just fashion.” (Vice 2014, 3:47) states one of the members, alluding to the deeper political motivations for their way of life. In 1998, for example, Indonesian dictator Suharto was driven out of office after 32 years as the country’s leader accused of political corruption, among other factors (Berger 2008). The changing political scene in Indonesia and years of oppression, combined with religious laws and a conservative society has fuelled the punk movement across areas of Indonesia.

Edited screen shot
“Punk is not just fashion.” (Vice 2014, 3:47)

In recent years, the continued presence of the authorities in Banda Aceh and the tension between punks can be highlighted through the events of December 2011. During a benefit concert for orphans, 65 punks were arrested and detained for 10 days and were forced to undergo ‘moral training’ (Vice 2014). At the time of the arrests, Banda Aceh deputy mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal was quoted as describing punks as a ‘new social disease affecting Banda Aceh’ (Balowski 2012). This incident gathered international media attention and emphasised the ongoing power of Indonesian authorities. In a contemporary society, it is eye opening to discover acts of discrimination against individuals and groups simply for personal views, opinions, clothing and music choice.

In current and future years, individual ideas of expression are critical in ensuring the Punk sub-culture lives on throughout Indonesia, and the world.

 

References

Balowski, J. 2012, The Mohawk Crusade, Inside Indonesia, viewed 10 April 2016, <http://www.insideindonesia.org/the-mohawk-crusade&gt;.

Berger, M. 2008, Suharto Dies at 86; Indonesian Dictator Brought Order and Bloodshed, The New York Times, <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/world/asia/28suharto.html?_r=0&gt;.

Taylor, L. 2015, Explainer: What is Sharia law?, SBS News, viewed 10 April 2016,<http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/09/23/explainer-what-sharia-law&gt;.

Vice 2014, Punk Vs Sharia, videorecording, viewed 2 April 2016,<http://www.vice.com/video/punk-vs-sharia&gt;.

Post B: The future of plastic production in a world without oil

On its pristine manufactured surface, plastic is regarded as a universal material that plays a significant, albeit invisible, role in contemporary societies (Freinkel 2010). Incorporated into the vast major of products we buy and interact with on a daily basis, ranging from ballpoint pens to shrink wrapped cucumbers, the infiltration of plastic into our human existence can be increasingly seen throughout the world. What happens, however, when this environmentally unsustainable miracle material can no longer be produced?

The variety of products and materials labeled as ‘plastic’ are produced from raw materials derived from the catalytic cracking of crude oil or the modification of natural gas (Rujnic-Sokele & Baric 2014). These raw materials are industrially processed and refined to produce a wide variety of plastics for different purposes. Not only are plastic materials produced from a finite resource; their synthetic nature also means they cannot readily return to the earth once disposed.

Further, oil is a finite resource, which will one day run out. The U.S. Energy and Information Administration (2014) predict the global supply of crude oil, liquid hydrocarbons and biofuels is sufficient to meet global demands for the next 25 years, however, state “There is substantial uncertainty about the levels of future liquid fuels supply and demand.” (U.S. Energy and Information Administration 2014). In future years, the continued use of refined crude oil and natural gas across industries will cause changes as materials become less abundant.

In response to petroleum plastic based production, companies and individual designers have begun to develop alternative materials and design practices in an attempt to ensure ecological sustainability. Bakeys is a company established in 2010 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, with the aim to develop an alternative, holistic approach to disposable cutlery (Bakeys 2016). The company, founded by Narayana Peesapaty, produces edible spoons made from sorghum flour, rice flour, and wheat flour (Munir 2016) in a variety of Indian inspired flavours including ginger-cinnamon, cumin and black pepper. The design came as a response to both excessive single use plastic items (such as disposable cutlery) and a complete understanding of the product lifecycle, including raw material use, energy consumption, waste disposal and decomposition. The spoon can either be used and consumed with the meal or disposed of, decomposing in “4-5 days” (The Better India 2016, 1:25).

fc1fb5a40db1e96ef344f21126e93dc8_original.PNG
Bakeys edible spoons; a plastic alternative (Munir 2016)

At the time of writing, the project is currently seeking funding on kickstarter. More than $210,000 has been pledged, far surpassing the $20,000 goal with still 8 days to go. The company aim to expand production in an attempt to lower consumer costs and make the spoon competitively priced with plastic alternatives (The Better India 2016). In current and future years, initiatives like Bakeys are important in instilling change across societies, as the shift to alternative raw materials becomes critical in ensuring the reduction of natural resource use.

 

References

Bakeys 2016, About Us, Bakeys Foods Private Limited, India, viewed 8 April 2016, <http://www.bakeys.com/about-us/&gt;.

Freinkel, S. 2011, ‘Plasticville’ in Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Munir, S. 2016, Edible Cutlery: The Future of Eco Friendly Utensils, Kickstarter, viewed 8 April 2016, <https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1240116767/edible-cutlery-the-future-of-eco-friendly-utensils&gt;.

Rujnic-Sokele, M. & Baric, G. 2014, ‘LIFE CYCLE OF POLYETHYLENE BAG’, Annals of the Faculty of Engineering Hunedoara, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 41-8.

The Better India 2016, India Innovates Episode 4 – Edible Cutlery, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 8 April 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-2WiqOtlqg&gt;.

U.S. Energy and Information Administration 2014, Do we have enough oil worldwide to meet our future needs?, U.S Department of Energy, Washington, viewed 3 April 2016, <http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=38&t=6&gt;.

Post A: Design in a local context

Throughout the world, design practices are influenced by a variety of factors, including local context. As local context varies across regions, cities and countries, different design practices can be observed as individuals adapt to their personal environments. These design practices can develop varying design outcomes, which can be observed when comparing design practices in areas of Indonesia, to cities in Australia.

Undertaking the subject Interdisciplinary lab B in Indonesia provided a variety of insights into the influence of local context on design. Personal interaction with designers and artists reveled the varying nature of material availability and resources according to personal income. In Yogyakarta, the mimimum wage is 1,108,249Rp (Approx. $112Au) per month (WageIndicator Foundation 2016). Low-income levels in parts of Indonesia and the influence of tradition, therefore, contribute towards an alternative mindset within everyday design, which can differ from Western societies.

One example is the prevalence of traditional handicrafts across areas of Indonesia. Woven bamboo baskets, for example, are still made and used in local villages from readily available materials. Traditional designs such as the woven basket play an important role in the function of everyday objects, using design methods past down through generations (Nabila 2013). The construction of woven bamboo baskets, along with other Indonesian handicrafts such as batik, requires skilled craftsmanship in order to produce a design. In turn, the inexpensive cost of materials, low minimum wage and availability of craftsmen mean items such as the bamboo basket can be cheap to produce and sell. In contrast, the affordability of offshore manufacturing has contributed to the availability of cheaper mass produced products in Australia. In this sense, a hand made product in Australia would be more expensive than a mass-produced item, as the nature of craftsmanship and time adds value to product.

DSC01543.JPG
Weaving bamboo baskets (Personal photograph)

Further, as the world becomes increasingly globalised, traditional handicrafts may become less valued as countries develop. In 2014, for example, 10 billion plastic bags were used annually in Indonesia (Schonhardt 2016), due to their mass availability. Unlike traditional carrying methods such as bamboo baskets, plastic bags cannot actively breakdown in the environment and return to the earth once disposed (Rujnic-Sokele & Baric 2014). Woven bamboo baskets are still an environmentally sustainable carrying option; yet the increasing globalisation of Indonesia may in future years, render them obsolete. The continued education and use of traditional design, therefore, is critical for the preservation of cultural heritage and traditions, and in the case of the bamboo basket, ensuring a decreased environmental impact.

 

 

References

Rujnic-Sokele, M. & Baric, G. 2014, ‘LIFE CYCLE OF POLYETHYLENE BAG’, Annals of the Faculty of Engineering Hunedoara, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 41-8.

Nabila, A. 2013, ‪Exploring Craftsmanship: Bamboo Weaving, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 9 April 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVlLvNRXxIs&ebc=ANyPxKryUnocUOkZpuPxKezn5bHJ_tlv5AOcJAkD3so3XBEUgz8rVJVp0GIhsToAGXfaWaaTq28cpqfsgjwvM5friYgs4QOLBw&gt;.

Schonhardt, S. 2016, ‘Indonesia’s Solution for Pollution Is in the Bag; Southeast Asian nation is second-largest source of plastic trash in world’s oceans’, Wall Street Journal (Online), Feb 23, 2016, pp. n/a .

WageIndicator Foundation 2016, Minimum Wages in Indonesia with effect from 01-01-2016 to 31-12-2016, viewed 10 April 2016, <http://www.wageindicator.org/main/salary/minimum-wage/indonesia&gt;.

Images used in this blog post were taken by the author.

Post C: An afternoon at Bumi Langit

As the sky grew dark among the outer hills of Yogyakarta, we spoke with members from Bumi Langit, a permaculture farm practicing sustainable design and development in Indonesia. Sitting around the outside table with founder Iskandar Waworuntu and teacher Meru Segare, we discussed our visit and personal experience of Bumi Langit along with their philosophies of design.

During the discussion, Iskandar Waworuntu brought up notions of design in relation to lifecycle. In essence, many aspects of the farm from material choice, to system design and methods included an understanding of holistic cycles. Earlier in the afternoon, we undertook a tour around the grounds of Bumi Langit with farmer Salas. Salas introduced and explained many of the simple yet effective design solutions they had employed from a functional perspective. One notable example was the bio gas chamber, which utilised animal waste to produce methane gas. The methane gas was then piped directly into the main kitchen, where it could be used for cooking via the gas stove. This complete system solution highlighted elements of sustainable design practice, where a waste product could be used as the basis of another system.

DSCN0561_opt
The bio gas chamber at Bumi Langit (The Strange Two 2016)

The sustainable life cycle of systems to support themselves, therefore, was one of the key ideas of permaculture practiced at Bumi Langit. As coffee and boiled cassava were served to our table, Iskandar Waworuntu asked us whether we had read the book Cradle to Cradle. He emphasised the concept that design should minimise waste, by mimicking natural systems. In the book, Braungart & McDonough (2002) state:

Rather than being designed around a natural and cultural landscape, most modern urban areas simply grow, as has often been said, like a cancer, spreading more and more of themselves, eradicating the living environment in the process…” (Braungart & McDonough 2002, p. 33)

In contrast, the design of a permaculture farm (such as Bumi Langit) incorporates natural processes and cycles to benefit and fuel the system, aiming for a balance between humans and nature (Bumi Langit n.d.). In this sense, the relationship and interaction between the environment and humans is interdependent, and is required in order for the farm to function.

As the coffee was finished, we thanked Iskandar Waworuntu and Meru Segare for letting us explore the farm and their home. Our experiences and design research over the day had provided a deep insight into functional, environmental design. Personally, the philosophies of the farm and design elements were inspiring, and left me pondering as we drove down the hill back to the main city of Yogyakarta, if the implication of these ideas across societies could cause future cultural change.

 

References

Braungart, M. & McDonough, W. 2002, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things, North Point Press, New York.

Bumi Langit n.d., Who we are, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.bumilangit.org/index.html&gt;.

Bumi Langit n.d., Farm, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.bumilangit.org/farm/index.html&gt;.

The Strange Two 2016, Bumi Langit Farm: Heaven on Earth, viewed 9 April 2016,<http://www.thestrangetwo.com/bumi-langit-farm-heaven-earth/&gt;.