Symbols and Visual Meanings on “Respect Each Other, Care the Environment” Murals

Foreword from Listen To The World

Human in essence is a man of symbol. The ability to create meanings of our surrounding and present it as a symbol is perhaps one of the reasons that makes us Homo Sapiens. In doing so, human race proved to be succeeded in not only surviving a harsh world, but also thriving above it. Symbol is an intergenerational form of communication and guidance (ideas, beliefs, values, meanings, etc.) – a sacred bridge – that span across spacetime in order for humanity to making sense of the world they’re living. Hence, symbol by essence, is an abstraction – not a physical material.

As an abstraction, ancestral symbols have been impacted our physical world on day-to-day basis than meets the eye – both as a guidance and a discordance. It is lurking behind our blind spot, shaping our mindset and consequently affecting our behaviour, which eventually giving birth to a new symbol. Gender inequality and racism are to name but a few topics that show just that. Either as guidances or discordance, understanding symbol is instrumental, even more so knowing how diverse cultural symbols are from one region to the other. Otherwise, we will get lost in translation.

Art could be a good vehicle in exercising our mind to translate, understand and even comprehend as well as create symbols. After all, as Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” Understanding symbol comprehensively, ideally gives us an ability to differentiate between the world of symbol and our physical world. Magritte’s painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe) questioned how we comprehend symbol in relation to our reality. In the case of racism, science has shown that human is a single race, yet we still deny it politically.

Symbol is indeed one of the building blocks of changes, but it’s not meant to dictate the world we live in. There are symbols we should preserve, and there are symbols we should correct. The article below explains semiotically how traditional/ancient symbols are still relevant in correspond to today’s context, thus we need to preserve, cultivate, and most importantly, apply its wisdom in our daily live.


Symbols and Visual Meanings on “Respect Each Other, Care the Environment” Murals

By D. Adikara Rachman*

The murals are presented in three level of layers: the underworld, which is about water, the middle world, which is the representation of land, and the upper world, which tells about celestial events. The interconnectivity of the symbols present in all layers of the world is complete cycle in building the visual narrative that is relevant to our current context. The visual narrative serves as the content of the murals, which depicts human interaction that is based on equality and trust, and humans’ connection with their environment in a broader sense, which is based on the awareness of functionality. The murals’ artistic value is formed by the contour in each object that also functions as ornaments. The dots are introduced in every area to fill the space. Bright and contrasting colours are used to depict tropical environment. The decorative elements – the ornaments on the murals – are inspired by the spirit of batik from northern coast of Java, which can be seen in the gender characteristic in wayang and stained glass art from Cirebon. All murals depict the pastoral atmosphere.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

On the top right of this 3×3 meters-wall, one can see the picture of an active volcano that symbolises the warm, tropical climate of Indonesia and its fertile land where agriculture, traditions, and creations are born. The picture of a man and a woman facing together, which is shaped in the likeness of that in wayang, is the symbol of regeneration. It represents the next generations of the guardian of the environment, built on an inter-gender dialogue on the basis of equality in terms of roles and positions. The clouds, drawn based on mega mendung pattern from Cirebon batik, represent the weather and climate cycle. On the bottom right one can see a picture of a fish, symbolising a healthy body of water. Other complementing objects such as plants, flowers, water flow, and fields are added to further strengthen the meanings.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

This 3×3 meter wall was created as the result of a subjective interpretation of the varied local wisdom in Indonesia, which is further combined into a narrative under the theme “Humans and Nature”. The murals represent the tropical nature of Indonesia. The approach to the decorations – ornaments in the murals – is chosen to remind us on the traditional visual art that is based on context, collective identity signifiers as a spiritual manifestation and life that is seen in macrocosm manner. All these are brought up to remind urban dwellers who may have been alienated from their roots and as a departing point for visual artists to make a creation. The following is the detail of the work:

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

The photo on left depicts a terraced filed as a symbol of agriculture. The paddy fields and plantations symbolise the pillar of economy of village dwellers. On the top part is a picture of an animal which is a simplification of Majapahit symbol. It represents a lunar calendar system that is connected to every activity and production event. The photo on the right shows the picture of trees, which is inspired by the tree of life (according to Javanese culture). The meaning behind it is that life, in a broad sense, is sacred and therefore must be governed with a delicate, orderly connectivity system. It serves a reminder that ethics is the foundation of our daily life.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

The photo on the left depicts a tiger, which symbolises the sad reality of degrading land ecosystem. Tigers are diminishing from the earth and they are in the brink of extinction. The photo on the right depicts some fish, symbolising that a healthy river or ocean ecosystem are important for every living being. It is meant to lead us to rethink about the diminishing water springs and the degrading rivers due to human activities. On the top part, one can see the picture of two children playing, representing the next generations. It serves as a reminder that we are borrowing this world from the next generation and the harsh consequences on the incalculable environmental exploitation. The worst part of it all is the cultural damage and it may be very costly to rebuild it.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

Mythical creatures in various local visual tradition in Indonesia are often manifested in different shapes. One of them is in the form of a dragon, which found frequently in the pre-Islam visual tradition in Java. Dragon is the symbol of the underworld or the pillar of the earth. It represents how water must be viewed as the support of life.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

Woman is the symbol of the Earth. It means that Earth is the womb where the spirit of a living being began and the space to nurture love. The picture of two women facing each other in the middle of the mural are made in two different colours. It symbolises sisterhood in difference and sameness. On the right side there is a white, dotted line that represents grace, where fertility is brought by rain and wind. Another interpretation is that how nature keep the balance of seasons periodically.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

The figure of a man symbolises leadership and courage. It represents the roles and responsibilities based on system, norms, traditions, beliefs, values, and rules that are established collectively. The two figures are facing each other, depicting the meeting of ideas and brotherhood. It means that in brotherhood we must expect differences that must be embraced by everyone and they should be seen as enriching instead of threats or impending conflicts. In the context of culture, differences are part of the dynamic of interrelationship. The white bird between the two figures is the symbol of peace that is borrowed from Western concept. It represents peace as a universal value, and the act of borrowing the concept is the result of openness in our interaction with other culture.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

In the 3×3 meter wall there is a picture of an imaginative tree and a deer, which represents nature as one of the sources of many forms of art that has been created by our ancestors such as music, poetry, performing art, storytelling, drawing and crafts that are passed on to us. This part reminds us to create as good as our ancestors within our context, especially that we are now in the middle of a global battle of aesthetic prowess.

Photo Courtesy of Friday Art Design Session

The visual symbols on murals are the result of subjective interpretations of many local wisdoms in Indonesia. The symbols serve as a respond to the global issue of humanity and nature that should have never been experiencing profound pressures. The sentence “Respect Each Other” on the mural is an expression of hope and a call to establish brotherhood or friendship to keep humanity from degradation due to our actions. The sentence “Care for the Environment” should be viewed as a reminder for me, you, and our friends to not be part of the environmental degradation. Together, we can rebuild our imagination and make a concerted effort to create a healthy environment for our future.

“Aesthetics is the truth that transcends time”

(D. Adikara Rachman)

* D. Adikara Rachman is the initiator of the mural project, a visual artist, a member of Group Expert in Sacred Bridge Foundation and a permanent lecturer at Art and Design Faculty, Trisakti University. The murals are located in Balai RW 07 Perumahan Nusaloka Sektor 14 – 5 BSD, South Tangerang, which were made from 4 to5 July 2020 by some of the artists of Friday Art Design.

English Translation by Riri Rafiani


Music, Museum, and Culture

Foreword from Listen to the World

Our intimacy with digital media has become increasingly significant ever since the pandemic. All sectors and various aspects of life have been forced to turn their steering wheel radically towards a “boundless era”. This course, without a doubt, will impact the future both for better and worse. As with any pivotal era, the impact can already be felt in the art world. One of the implications posed in many instances is reflected through how many of us started to question the relevance of the Arts within today’s society (especially fine art), consequently distancing themselves and using memes to crudely validate points.

When we talk about the relevancy of art, we first need to observe the two concurrent subcultures that dominate the artworld; namely, Popular and Serious. By being aware of this, it makes us realise that the true function of art is not to make us understand it, but rather how to comprehend how truthfully it corresponds to the surrounding context it arises from. This context in itself, is something composed of multiple layers, which makes it indescribable and unquantifiable in itself, although it is something we can sense at any given moment if we allow ourselves to experience it.

In our virtual space, a “dividing” line between Pop and Serious art has become increasingly blurred, which can largely be attributed to the existence of social media. This isn’t helped by the fact that the very nature of the media itself is rudderless, and consequently, the context behind an artwork (especially in the case of Serious art) can often become distorted, which eventually renders it irrelevant in the eyes of many. Even supporting information cannot overcome such situations, due to the influence the media will have to fulfil various agendas. On the contrary, physical spaces such as museums and art galleries provide us both enough explanation about the presentation (context), and also provide discussion sessions and Q&As with the artists if they are present.

One prominent example that discusses the advantages of the educational and cultural benefits of presenting, written by the late founder of our organisation Serrano “Rano” Sianturi, that was initially intended as an introductory text in a programme of a music clinic event “Electronic Music in the 21st century with Amy Knoles” at the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta. Furthermore, the article addresses the role of Pop and Serious art in greater depth than provided here, as well as providing explanation as to why we often feel so distanced from Serious art.


Music, Museum, and Culture

By Serrano G. Sianturi

[Music] Pop vs Serious

Music (pop) in Indonesia has been expanding rapidly along with a better economy compared with 50, 30, or 20 years ago. As time goes by, more young people have been taking an interest in studying music and chosen Pop as the main course. Serious Music, on the other hand, are diminishing and people doesn’t seem to take it seriously anymore. It is possible that if this kind of music is finally perished, only very few would be heart-broken.

Indeed, Serious Music’s fate has been sealed, that it will never be popular and gain numerous fans because of its characteristics and approach that is academic, conceptual, explorative, and spiritual. However, its role is very instrumental as a reference and a source of inspiration. Western Pop Music has been developing dramatically in the 60s and 70s thanks to its closeness to Serious Music. The key players in Serious Music, from Classical to Jazz, such as Edgard Varesse, Olivier Messiaen, Karl Heinz Stockhausen, Lionel Hampton, John Coltrane dan Art Ensemble of Chicago have inspired most Pop musicians. As the result, many quality Pop music were born and, in turn, gave positive influence to the Serious Musicians. Unfortunately, this mutual relationship began to fade away since the end of the 70s, and since then, Western Pop Music has stagnant.

In Indonesia, Pop Music and Serious Music has never had a real relationship. Serious Music, which is within the realm of traditional music, has never served as the foundation in creating or interpreting Western music. The ‘Indonesianess’ of their music is only limited to the actors and language instead of the music structure, rendering Indonesian Music Pop a mere reproduction of other countries’ works. In short, the development of Indonesian Music Pop is more about the number of actors and the profit generated.

Pop and Serious Music is not about hierarchy, a debate of which one is more superior than the other; neither is it about which one is better. In culture, both Pop and Serious music (and other art works) have their own functions and roles. Therefore, this fulfilling, mutual relationship should be preserved and nourished. Even in the Western world, Serious Music has been stagnant in the last 20 years. But that doesn’t mean the musicians have given up. They have been exploring far and wide, outside their geographical origin for the possibility to expand. Their tenacity is not running thin because they fully understand of the roles and functions of Serious Music, apart from their love for music.

We hope that Amy Knoles presence, who has been living and breathing Serious Music for three decades, can pump up the spirit of Indonesia’s Serious Musicians.

Why Museum? Why Electronic?

Why in a museum? This question may pop up in our mind because it is uncommon to have a musical performance in a museum. Most of us tend to see museum as a place to exhibit tangible historical objects, but music, on the other hand, is intangible. Moreover, the kind of music performed is not a historical one.

One of the main missions of LTTW’s parent organization, Sacred Bridge Foundation, is to promote integration, be it an integration between the past and present, local-global, or traditional-modern. Development, in our opinion, is not a transformation, but is a part of those integration because that’s the place where we learn and aware of what we are made of, which in turn becomes our ‘assets’ to take action today and plan for tomorrow.

Electronic music is resulted from the integration. It departs from (and still stand on) Classical Music that has found its way to progress and created its own path by utilising the technological advances. Started with the invention of telharmonium in the end of 19th century, electronic music continues to develop along with other inventions such as theremin, onder martenot, tape recorder, analog synthesizer, digital synthesizer, and sampler. Since the mid 60s, electronic music had been very influential to Pop Music, and even Jazz. Its presence can still be sensed today through the electronic dance music that has captured the heart of the young generations.

Performing electronic music in a museum, therefore, is our effort to promote not only the importance of integration but also the role of museum in this instance.

Lastly, we would like to thank the audience and all parties involved in this concert. To the National Museum we would like to extend our deep appreciation for its support of this event.

Enjoy the show

A preview of the event and performances | Check out our youtube playlist “Electronic Music in the 21st Century with Amy Knoles” for a full version and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel!

English Translation by Riri Rafiani


2020 Vision, and Post-SRRU Blues

By Jason Noghani

To say 2020 started off with a bang would be the ultimate cliché, although nonetheless it seems fitting to say this for various reasons at the start of the new decade, after the previous decade of cacophonous chaos! 2020 has formidably begun with floods in Jakarta, wildfires ravaging across Australia, unresolved political tensions in most countries aggravating both sides of the political spectrum, and the unfortunate events which have seen four decades of unnerving tensions between the United States and Iran increase to worrying states of uncertainty. It therefore seemed fitting, that at Sacred Rhythm: Reborn Unison January 11th 2020, on the first full moon of the decade, that our brothers and sisters from the United States and Iran could join Indonesia on stage for what was an unforgettable night of awe-inspiring music.

Before we continue, I feel it is important to reflect on the pre-event which occurred at Demajors radio HQ in Southern Jakarta on December 27th 2019; a fitting postlude to the decade bygone and a tasty appetiser for what has recently been experienced. On a day with continuous downpours and some technological setbacks, we were undeterred by our enthusiasm to dance in the rain, actively engage in the music presented to us, and literally turn the whole street into a party even though the dedicated audience was relatively modest in size. This wonderful turn of events was certainly an impulse of what was yet to come!

SBF. Doc

Fast forward to January 11th, and the first noticeable aspect of the day was the ambiguity of when it actually began. Just as the audience slowly started to appear, there was already drumming activities occurring outside of the concert space, which gave rise to the notion that the whole event was a gargantuan musical experience in itself – an undivided whole of a journey! Shortly after, a dedicated team of sound engineers, visual projectionists and myself oversaw a procession of musical pieces as a forerunner for what was yet to come, whilst the audience gradually entered the performance space – two works of Gado Gado EnSambal, both old and new (the latter paying homage to India to ensure that our brothers and sisters across the world who could not make it were there in spirit), Sabbath Bride by Jody Diamond, and finally ending with Paksi Ngelayang by the legendary I Nyoman “Komang” Astita, who was also in attendance having contributed to the ongoing Rhythm Salad clinics throughout the week. Following this technologically-motivated procession, Iranian-British composer and turntablist Shiva Feshareki (of whom LTTW has interviewed last year) welcomed everyone to the event, having unfortunately been unable to attend, yet nonetheless could attest to being there in spirit through her recorded message. As soon as she had spoken, Andi Supardi and Kinang Putra abruptly began with a stunning performance of their Betawi music and dance to welcome the audience who had by now all arrived – having previously wowed audiences at the pre-event on December 27th, this brief prelude was yet another tasty appetiser before their main performance.

Photography: Haribaik. (SBF. Doc)

Following on from this, a video from Sacred Bridge founder Stephen Hill was played to the audience, expressing his woes at being unable to attend, yet providing a captivating and inspiring message which unanimously touched the hearts of all who had attended – he too was certainly there in spirit! This was followed by Sacred Bridge’s chairman Ginastera “Boo-boo” Sianturi welcoming everyone and setting a suitable tone for the event. Almost the spitting image of his late father, it is undeniable that he is the natural heir of Serrano “Rano” Sianturi’s legacy – and Rano certainly would have been proud of him! Awards were also presented to the facilitators and guests at the event for their ongoing contributions to Sacred Bridge, so we would personally like to congratulate and thank Amy Knoles, Komang Astita and Marzuki Hasan for their achievements and dedicated work, as without it, Sacred Bridge would not have benefitted as much as it has done – we truly thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Photography: MOLD Graphics/Iqbal Mughniy (SBF. Doc)

After this poignant introduction, Shiva Feshareki (again through prerecorded message) introduced her work Venus-Zohreh to the audience, which was officially when the main event had commenced, and the official Indonesian premiere of one of Shiva’s latest compositions. A work for string quartet lasting just shy of six minutes, Venus-Zohreh nonetheless embodies a power far larger than the forces which create and encapsulate it. The boldness of the work is found in the rich sonorities produced in the open strings and the starkly simple form is nothing more than a crescendo; initially murmuring like a distant morning sun and eventually soring like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. It was an astonishing way to commence festivities, and it was unanimously felt that the awe-struck audience loved it!

Whether it was part of a broader musical infrastructure or a comical tongue in cheek jester, Andi Supardi and Kinang Putra immediately commenced with their performance right after Venus-Zohreh. I say tongue in cheek as a term of endearment, as the performers intertwined musical invention and humour with the utmost mastery, and did not disappoint with what they had teased us with earlier that evening and on December 27th. The music is a rich tapestry of influences – Gamelan, Indonesian folk traditions, Jazz, Latin, and other strands of musical influences which seeped through the musical textures. Outside of Indonesia, Betawi music is relatively unknown in contrast to the globally renowned Gamelan, and this is certainly music which deserves wider recognition for its beauty, intricacy and imagination! There was laughter, there was dancing, and above all there was an audience seductively captivated by the musical brilliance which embraced them.

Photography: Haribaik. (SBF. Doc)
Photography: MOLD Graphics/Iqbal Mughniy (SBF. Doc)

Following on from this performance was a spellbinding performance from Marzuki Hasan and Canang 7 from Aceh, who just like Andi Supardi and his consort, also performed at the pre-event on December 27th as a little teaser for SRRU. Furthermore, it should also be noted that Canang 7 played an important role in the Rhythm Salad Clinics earlier that week, having engaged with and inspired the participants into the mystical and compelling practices of Sufi music, and this was also their second Sacred Rhythm event having previously performed at Celebrate Life on April 26th 2019. It would be fair to say that these previous renditions were merely scratching the surface of what was performed that day, as the evocations that were created continued for almost twice as long, thereby deepening the sacred space which enchanted and transcended the audience. In direct contrast to what was previously heard, the audience remained motionless, entranced, and in a fixated state of deep listening as the sacred tones and patterns resonated within and outside of the audience and auditorium, bridging past and future through the dynamic wisdom of the masterful Sufi art practices.

Photography: Haribaik. (SBF. Doc)

Following on from Marzuki Hasan and Canang 7 was the last of the main performances, consisting of American electroacoustic percussionist Amy Knoles, Iranian musician Houman Pourmehdi, and Caribbean-French singer Joel Virgil-Vierset. What was created I cannot describe with vivid acuity, as their set reflected the pathos of the whole event, in that it was one continuous whole interjected with various occurrences of other musical influences – most evidently Persian traditional music. Furthermore, the triangulation of the three main performances was also reflected in the fact that this musical monument was created by a trio, who in themselves perfectly reflected the triangulation of art, science and spirituality through their alchemical vibrations. The industrial experimental gyrations of Amy’s electronic percussion and Joel’s eerily beautiful vocal embellishments provided an austere, mysterious and supernatural backdrop for the untarnished, immaculate renditions of Persian traditional songs, which demonstrated the phenomenal prowess of Houman’s abilities on the tambour, daf (drum), ney (flute) and voice. There was also a sombre undertone to this performance, as the lyrical content of Houman’s choices of material symbolically reflected the ongoing tumult in Iran, which could not have been more appropriate for the time and context of the performance. It provided a multitude of complex emotions as is typical of the very finest of Iranian music – reflecting the ongoing despair and suffering of the Iranian people, yet also providing glimmers of hope, and reflecting the persistent beauty of the human spirit.

Photography: Haribaik. (SBF. Doc)
Photography: Haribaik. (SBF. Doc)

This unforgettable performance immediately set the tone for the final live performance, bridged together by a drone that interconnected the previous act and this one; namely the fruits of the ongoing Rhythm Salad Clinic that week. The participants at the Rhythm Salad Clinic, many of whom had never met before, had started from scratch on the Monday and by Saturday had created not one, but two brand new pieces especially for this event. Amy, Houman and Komang overlooked and facilitated the workshops to aid in these musical creations; the first of which immediately took off from the preceding performance, which was a powerful rendition of a Persian Sufi song, which like the previous performance, appropriately fitted the context of the time it was performed. Houman also combined forces with fellow Iranian tambour player Pouyan Khosravi, which naturally added to the powerful aura of the performance, and the supporting musicians were equally engaged and captivated by the seductive Persian mysticism. The lyrical content of the song was a Rumi poem construed with a maqam (musical mode), which described the story of the Sufi mystic Mansur Al-Hallaj, who was executed for exclaiming “Ana ‘l-Haqq” (“I am God” or “I am the Truth”), and Rumi laments in the love he feels, overwhelmed at the fact that it is merely a fraction of what Al-Hallaj must have felt to have made such a proclamation. Symbolically, this could not have been more appropriate given that the Iranian people are currently fighting and tragically dying for the truth – it was a truly magical performance, that was felt by both performers and audience alike! The next piece to follow was a quirky concoction of Balinese Gamelan and Kecak (monkey chant) interjected with spasmodic IDM explosions; courtesy of Komang’s exquisite mastery of his Balinese heritage and Amy’s unceasingly eclectic technological wizardry respectively. These contrasting forces created an unpredictable, dynamic and exciting music, that was hard to categorise yet seductive and tantalising for the ears. It formed a perfect couple with the soothing solemnity of the Persian Sufi song, and made one wonder what could be achieved over a longer duration, given that two truly magical gems had been conceived in under a week!

Photography: Lassak Imaji/Tagor Siagian (Sbf. Doc)
Photography: Lassak Imaji/Tagor Siagian (Sbf. Doc)
Photography: Lassak Imaji/Tagor Siagian (Sbf. Doc)
Photography: MOLD Graphics/Iqbal Mughniy (SBF. Doc)

Once the performances had ended, Syafwin “Abim” Bajumi of Syaelendra Studio provided an invigorating set of house music, having filled in for Leno Rei who unfortunately could not make it due to succumbing to an illness (our thoughts are with him and we wish him a speedy recovery!). The rest of the evening consisted of drinks, food, conversation and laughter from performers and audience alike, and under the captivating radiance of the full moon, there was joy to be felt all around. It was hard to say when the party ended exactly – not literally, as the venue had to shut eventually, but the sense of euphoria continued in the days that followed, although unsurprisingly, the hangover has been felt from the potency of the event – hence the post-SRRU blues!

In light of these times, we have an exciting yet potentially difficult decade ahead of us as we dig deeper into the 21st Century, and confront all that is ahead of us and is demanded of us. Blissful ignorance is increasingly becoming less of an option, as we have to face up to the jarring realities surrounding us, but we should do so with love and light whilst never forgetting what Rano, the founder of Sacred Bridge, told us in his final days – to do so whilst Celebrating Life! As could be discerned from this wondrous occasion, it is safe to assume with cautious optimism that the 2020s will reap blossoming fruits for Sacred Rhythm, and that as of yet we are merely scratching the surface for what is yet to come. So, I will end it here, by reminding all of you, to watch this space!


Songs of Earth Diversity in the Interstellar Space

by Bramantyo Indirawan

On 7th October 1977, Voyager 1 was launched into space for the purpose of studying our solar system. Throughout the vast and endless space, the main mission of Voyager 1 along with Voyager 2 was to explore Jupiter and Saturn. After accomplishing this primary task in 1989, the twin spacecrafts continued to journey beyond the outer solar system—their task now to answer cosmic curiosities and inquisitively explore the foreboding unknown.

In the voyager spacecrafts, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) placed two 12-inch phonograph records dubbed The Golden Record, which contained sounds and images of life on Earth and its cultural diversity. A committee led by Carl Sagan of Cornell University, et. al. assembled 116 images and 90 minutes of audio that included multi-language greetings and songs across the globe.

Currently, Voyager 2 has reached interstellar space, so if intelligent extraterrestrial life found and played the record someday, they will also learn of the earth’s coordinates and also the contents inside it. With 31 tracks, they can jam to Chuck Berry or Louis Armstrong, listen in awe to the finest examples of Western culture through Johann Sebastian Bach, or even hear the Eastern grace with Puspawarna or Kinds of Flowers by Pura Paku Alaman Palace Orchestra.

Indeed, Javanese music that is integral to Indonesian culture is also included in these NASA phonographs. The music was written by Pangeran Adipati Arya Mangkunegara IV (1853-1881) from Surakarta, Central Java in commemoration of his wife and concubine. With sounds of gamelan and Javanese singing, David Darling in his book Deep Time (1989) connected the song to the Hindu-inspired tastes of Javanese people. The music depicts a story of flowers that symbolize the blooming of stars and galaxies in the cosmos.

In light of this inclusion to the Golden Record, it seems appropriate to include a cosmic song that represents humanity along with the various sounds from Earth. It is perhaps one of the greatest playlists that was made to showcase the Earth through what we consider a universal language; namely music. Curated by Carl Sagan and NASA, they even originally intended to recruit John Lennon from The Beatles to contribute, although this unfortunately never materialised.

Alongside Puspawarna, other traditional voices can be heard in the golden record. For example; Barnumbirr and Moikoi Song from Australia, Alima Song from Congo, Chakrulo from Georgia, and Sokaku Reibo or Depicting the Cranes in Their Nest by Kinko Kurasawa. West meets East, traditional meets modern, rock and roll meets shakuhachi or flute music from Japan—diversity compiled into one golden record to show the proportions of the world from an idyllic perspective.

It is acceptable to take pride because a song from your country or culture is compiled into The Golden Record, although this is not an end within itself, as listening to music from other countries and cultures elucidate the collective harmonic convergence of humanity, and can subsequently enable us to feel what the cosmic dreamweavers most likely intended; to be united as a diverse identity.

Hearing, experiencing or even learning about new perspectives, the selected songs represent an ideal for how Earth should be—united in diversity; understanding each other, creating proportion via music and beyond. The 116 images shown in The Golden Record also reflect life on Earth in its purest form, ranging from accomplishments to the depiction of wholeheartedly understanding the world we inhabit. This also included some aspects of daily life which included family gatherings, to people eating and children learning, and natural phenomena to technological advancements.

If no intelligent life forms discover this record, it should not be considered a disappointment. Humanity has made an ideal representation of itself through the images and music found in The Golden Record, and the message is clear; that diversity is what defines us as Earthlings. It should also be a reminder for future generations to conserve and become aligned with the harmony that we present to the universe.

But what if an intelligent life form finally found and played the record? Well, if we came into contact with them, here is hoping we can keep the diversity alive, here is hoping we do not go astray from what we launched into the cosmos back in 1977.





Visual Artworks in Response to Covid-19

By Adikara Rachman

Covid-19 is a global terror that has spread to every corner of the world. Many people have died, many others are under deep pressure whether it be financially related or due to the stress of undertaking measures to treat the pandemic, and not a single person is immune to the impact of this situation, which is dramatically unfolding at an alarming rate, and transforming civilisation in the process. In many places people are isolated and separated, hoping that the fear will go away whilst trying to remain calm. Now our lives are increasingly vulnerable despite the progress many people have made in treating the pandemic, as they are not able to exterminate it as quickly as one could have hoped. Sacred places are losing their necessary functions because of the scare of the deadly virus’ contagiousness, which they are unfortunately not immune from. Covid-19 has locked us all down yet time goes on, and mother nature rejuvenates blissfully unperturbed.

Four artworks by Adikara Rachman are a response to the pandemic disaster. They represent those prisoned by isolation, which makes them fragile like thin paper that is easy to tear, self and other separated in distance. The numbers present an acumulation of the victims, which are exponentially increasing each day. These artworks are not only about the scare facing Covid-19, there is also another concern, which is about building awareness for humanity to help each other. We are ultimately one race, and now is the time we must permanently dispose of hatred, racism, religious and cultural discrimination, and the desire to dominate others.

May health and peace be resorted to those of us who have suffered, may everyone else be protected and remain peaceful and healthy during such a time, and may those who have recovered or lost loved ones regain full strength as soon as possible.

420AY5 | Mix media on paper | Artwork by Adikara Rachman
01 88 86 65| Mix media on paper | Artwork by Adikara Rachman
CAADIMDD.6520 | Mix media on paper | Artwork by Adikara Rachman
No: 379403010500794 | Mix media on paper | Artwork by Adikara Rachman