Recording the Future: An Audiovisual Archive of Everyday Life in Indonesia in the 21st Century

In 2003, KITLV initiated this long-term data-generating documentation project in cooperation with the Research Center for Society and Culture (P2KK) of LIPI (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia; The Indonesian Institute of Sciences).  The aim is to establish an audiovisual archive of everyday life in Indonesia during the 21st century, and to document daily life through this archive. To this end recordings are made in Jakarta, Delanggu (Central Java), Payakumbuh (West Sumatra), Kawal (on the island of Bintan), Sintang (West Kalimantan), Bittuang (Tana Toraja on Sulawesi), Ternate, and Surabaya. Every four years recordings are made at the same locations in order to trace changes and continuities.

In each place one location is chosen as a ‘fixed point’: a crossroads, a street, a square, or a market, in short: public spaces; where recordings are made from 5.30 in the morning (at sunrise) until 21.00 in the evening. These recordings enable us to observe for instance the behavior of traffic and, more in general, the way people use public spaces. A second way to document these public spaces is inspired by footage made in 1912 by Col. J Lamster. He put a camera on the front of his car and drove around the streets of Bandung. This enables us to see a town, a street etc. from the perspective of a driver or passenger. In our project we decided to adopt a similar approach and to film from the top of a car. In addition we made recordings during a trip on a river. A third device to cover a location is a long walk of 3-4 hours while the camera keeps on rolling. Before the walk is made, the trajectory has been explored and mapped. During the walk the filmmakers decide where they stop to talk to people. Usually the first question is about what a person is doing, and then we see where the conversation ends. An important strategy in approaching everyday life is the recording of a variety of themes and topics. Some of these belong to obvious aspects of everyday public life that we are familiar with, although we tend to ignore them in terms of documentation. As a result they tend to slip away from our memory as soon as circumstances change. There is no rigid system in selecting the topics, because everyday life consists of a large number of different activities in a variety of contexts. In general, the project covers the fields of work, social life in the public sphere, leisure, religion and aspects of private life. As the project develops over time it is possible to add new topics and to include new themes. In this respect the project offers room for a great deal of flexibility within a well-structured frame


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