Traversing Media Literacy through the Corner of the Country.
by Ken Jenie
There’s a major surge of internet growth in Indonesia. Although the country is still sixth place in number of internet user ranking worldwide, eMarketer predict that the country will overtake Japan’s 5th position by 2017 with its pace of internet growth per year. in 2014, about 72.8 million of people were connected to the cyberspace, and oi 2016, the number is projected to grow to 102.8 million. Based on Cisco’s Visual Networking index, Indonesia is host to world’s second fastest growth of IP traffic.
The internet entered the country in the early 90’s, but the fast-paced growth kick-started after the fall of Suharto’s regime. Reformation spawned the thirst for information and then sparked an expansion of online media industries and users, parallel to the development of press liberation and democracy in Indonesia. With the need for freedom of speech as a vital part of the democracy, the internet with all of its features has what it takes to be the media to provide the flow of information needed.
Now, 7 years after Reformation, the rapid flow of information continues to flourish. It has come to a point where every person in the country is now experiencing a flood of information in their daily lives-especially those holding a smartphone/tab in their hands. Betram Gross call this phenomenon as “information overload”, where he define the term as: Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur. Simply put, information overload indicate a moment where a person has difficulty in interpreting a subject and making a decision because of too much information. Information overload has evolved into idioms like “information glut and “data smog” with how the internet growth is massively progressing.
This kind of matter bothers some people in the nation to responds the plight. Initiated by a group of people who are interested in helping society face the condition, Forum Lenteng is an institution that intent to empower society and disseminate information by spreading education through journals, videos, and all kind of media (Forum Lenteng includes Hafiz Rancajale- a video artist that was also the director of Ruang Rupa from the year 2000-2003). They share media knowledge to the public so that they are fully aware the context and the content of the media that exists in among them. To educate about the importance of media literacy-a set of knowledge that helps people understand, and build their own messages in a wide variety of concept, media, and genres. To make a better living in the age of information overload evolved into a new form of phrases like ”information glut” and “data smog”.
Started as a project in the year 2003, Hafiz invited a group of college student from IISIP (Institute of Social and Political Studies of Jakarta) to join the movement. Their first work was called “Massroom Project”, a documentary project that captured the phenomenon that happens in Jakarta. And this is the time the name “Forum Lenteng” was first used, simply because the project formed as a forum where the member shared and discussed their ideas in the Lenteng Agung area.
Right now, Forum Lenteng is a host for a lot of community development programs. They have AkuMassa, AkuMassa Online Radio, Jurnal Footage, Visual Jalanan, and Halaman Papua. Each of the programs is the breakdown of their main vision. AkuMassa, one of their first and main program, is a community development media usage training that collaborates with dozens of communities in the country, including Java, Sumatra, to Nusa Tenggara. Halaman Papua is an extension of AkuMassa program that specializes in the Papua area. Jurnal Footage tackles the lack of publication regarding video and video art criticism in the country. Visual Jalanan is an online journal that record the visual activities that happen on the street with its various kind of forms; graffiti, murals, posters, stickers and visual productions.
“We always try our best to keep our connection with every community that became a part of our programs. There are a lot of programs that tries to connect with people and communities across the country, but most of them fail to continue their relation after their program ended. We didn’t want that to happen with our programs, so right now, we keep our positive affiliations with all the communities that have been sharing their work with us. They even share their personal problem with us!”, said Andang Kelana, the general secretary of Lenteng Agung.
Most of the final product of their project are writings, books, and videos that are distributed to libraries and study centers in Jakarta and other cities that they have visited. Recently, they also have new projects, in 2011 they had their first feature documentary film, titled “Dongeng Rangkas”. The movie documented the lives of two tofu sellers that lived in Rangkas Bitung- a small town about 120 kilometers from Jakarta. This documentary captured how the young generation of the nation keep their faith in the future of the reformation era. Crafted with the subtle treatment and the smart angle by the group of directors from Forum Lenteng’s members, the movie won the best feature documentary film on the 2011’s Indonesian Documentary Film Festival and also featured in Korean International Film Festival and Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.
In addition to that, on 2013 Forum Lenteng started “Arkipel International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival” where it is intended to deliver a valuable documentary and the attainment of experimental video to Indonesia, South East Asian, and International audiences. With this festival, Forum Lenteng tries to read the socio-political, economy and culture phenomenon that happens worldwide through the moving pictures. This year, the annual film festival reach its third event and the theme for the 2015’s Arkipel is Grand Illusion, the submissions will be opened for three months until May 8, 2015.
Recently, Forum Lenteng moved their office to H. Saidi 69 Jagakarsa, South Jakarta where they store millions of minutes of their documentation on a house filled with mini DVs, hard drives, books and archives from their programs. They had a movie screening in this house every week, and they also host their akumassa radio stream from this house, where a lot of college student come and go to contribute to Forum Lenteng’s program or just to hang out with the people there.
“So far, the enthusiasm of people on our projects is quite good. We started most of our projects with a volunteers system, including Arkipel. We are glad that our friends are willing to contribute to those programs. But we do have a bigger vision for Forum Lenteng, to build some kind of film school that focuses more on other elements of a filmmaking rather than to concentrate on the technical matter. Because we believe that the right approach to a story is more important than just a good picture. The right angle of a story could tell the society more and that is the most important thing in media literacy.” Andang adds.