Teaching Great Students

September 15, 2008

The School – Bandung Institute of Technology

During the spring semester I was at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in the Faculty of Art and Design.

ITB, founded by the Dutch in the 1920s (hence the cross breeding of Dutch and Javanese architectural styles), is one of the best Universities in the country. It is proud to be home to Indonesia’s most prestigious department of art and design. With its reputation comes a highly selective undergraduate and graduate student body (60-100 art students selected from thousands of applicants each year) that is bright, accomplished and demanding. The faculty is made up of many of the nation’s most prominent artists and designers. The dedication, energy, intellect and talent of the student body are very impressive.

The Courses

In collaboration with the faculty from the fine arts and design departments I taught the first classes in video, sound and new media installation art, and documentary production.

The new media course included six undergraduates and six alumni from the departments of sculpture, print and painting. Twenty-five students from the multi-media department took the documentary course. All worked intensively to produce a well-received exhibition and to finish seven short documentary films.

Videosonic Art Course and Exhibition

The university is creating a department of Intermedia within the Fine Arts Faculty in 2008. The Videosonic Art course and exhibition of student work was conceived by Deden-Hendan Durahman as a way to launch this new venture. Deden is Head of the Graphic Art Studio at ITB and the force behind the Intermedia department. You can see some of his stunning work here.

The class reviewed the history of video, sound and new media installation art and engaged students in hands-on production. Students used a series of exercises to discover what they could do with these materials to expand their artistic expression. They explored the representation of personal and socially critical content through abstraction, metaphor, narrative and experiential immersion.

The day before the exhibition Deden and I were cursing ourselves for having suggested the idea of an exhibition. The gallery was a clutter of wires and materials that looked more like a storage room for discarded electronics than an intended art exhibition.

But, as usual, the students pulled a number of all-nighters and created the first student video and sound art exhibition at the university in the prestigious Soemardja Gallery. It was extremely well received by the university, faculty and local art community.

Here is a selection of the work from the exhibition and the semester:

Single channel videosonic art:

Excerpt from Video Star by Budi Adi Nugroho

Excerpt from Jihad Fisabilillah by Aries Triyanto

Excerpt from “Video as Video” by Usman Apriandi

Excerpt from “Shoreline” by Kania Yuliandini

Excerpt from Waiting by Irine Stephanie

Excerpt from “Propaganda” by Hilmi Fabeta

Sound Art

Through out the semester I emphasized the creative use of sound in all my work with Indonesian artists and filmmakers. Some of the students engaged with sound for the first time and often did so energetically even though they had access to very limited sound production equipment.

Sculpture student and first time sound artist, Dita Gambiro, created this sound installation structured around her personal and cultural roots:

She ended up working primarily with sound throughout the semester. This was the first sound piece she produced:

The Javanese in me by Dita Gambiro:

Here are additional excerpts of the sound art that students created during the course, some of which were installed in the final show:

Angst by Erick Puauhrizi:

Propaganda by Hilmi Fabeta:

Febie Babyrose, painter, video artist and performance artist, produced the video installation “Wedding Superstition” and the videosonic piece Trap:

Barung Grahita’s multimedia installation went on to win the top prize at the Indonesian new art competition at the National Gallery in Jakarta:

Muhammad Akbar created an installation involving TV montiors broadcasting an image of their electronic innards

Wisli Sagara created Passing a dramatic installation that became the entrance to the exhibition. The movement of visitors triggered an earth shattering surround sound piece of passing trains. Wisli hauled tons of tracks and ties from the railroad yard to create the physical alteration that he wanted:

Deden organized a public artist talk where the students presented their work to the country’s leading video artist, Krisna Murti, and two of its most respected curators, Agung Hujatnikajennong and Aminudin TH. Siregar.

Documentary Course and Screening

Many of the documentary students suffered from high levels of procrastination – a student curse that makes a particular mess of the planning and time required by documentary filmmaking. But, as usual, a very sleepy but adrenaline pumped group of filmmakers greeted design department faculy Andhika Dhyanie Prasetya and Intan Rizky Mutiaz and myself on the screening day with a wonderful collection of first time shorts. Most managed to construct the character-driven scene-based stories that we had been working toward all semester. This is particularly relevant in the Indonesian context where a strong verbal tradition dominates and documentaries have a long history, influenced by thirty years of dictatorship, of relying heavily on ‘voice-of-god’ narration.

The students also managed to construct their stories with very limited equipment. Most created heir work with very small digital cameras. Some worked quite miraculously with videophones and flash files. There determination was inspiring. Most edited on their own laptops using Premier. The lack of microphones limited their ability to do decent sound work.

Excerpt from Barong Sekeloa by Rangga Kusmalendra, Randy Tito Suharyanto, Brian Setzer, Wibowo Tresna Muktiaji, Rangga Muslim

Excerpt from Agung Prabowo – Psychedelic Experimental Journey by Shandy Abdi Maulana, Anindita Putri, Muhammad Reza, Luky Primadani, Aninda Purnamashari

Excerpt from Zoo Keeper by Rahma Utami, Hendri Kusumah F., Ganesha Adiguna

Excerpt from Bubur by William Roderick, Ikhwan Hakim, Mohammad Iqbal Ari K., Eddu Enoary E., Wina Amelia

I feel very fortunate to have developed, what I’m sure will be, life-long relationships with a number of the students and faculty. We had plenty of opportunities to celebrate our successes and friendship.

Related Posts:

McMillan Stewart Foundation supports CSFilm online training

McMillan Stewart Foundation supports CSFilm online training

Community Supported Film (CSFilm) wrote a new proposal to seek support for the development of our online documentary training (ODT). We are pleased to announce that the McMillan Stewart Foundation generously granted $20,000 for this two-year project. ODT will train community activists, journalists, and other grassroots storytellers in documentary filmmaking – from story development through post-production.


  1. Cordette Grimsey

    Michael, what an astounding achievement – for all of you! I wish I could have walked those railroad ties. It must have been a bitter-sweet wrench to leave friends and successes. This is truly a wonderful tribute to Andhika and I’m sure has been a healing experience for you to put it together. My particular words are, “All is in Divine order”, and are of great comfort when the going gets rough. Hope to see you soon. Love, Cordette

  2. Lynne

    Michael, Thanks for sharing this. …”all is well, all is well” resonates throughout this blog and is the timber that weaves through all.

  3. wisli sagara

    let us
    keep on going
    to the future !!!!!!!!!!!!!


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