Wednesday, May 25, 2016


 “Show me your favorite things, earthlings?” This sentence keeps haunting me during a walk through the streets of Bandung. To be honest, I was waiting for a result at my trusty photo lab (yes, I still use film). I walked to this area, it was at the back of the photo lab; I founded a nearly abandoned apartment, the feel of abandonment can be seen clearly through two tennis court. These tennis court, there were no nets, no tennis player and of course no tennis ball, but I heard an obvious sound; they are the sound of children talking, screaming and they’re running all over the place. Now this tennis court, it is forced to be function as a playground, maybe the lack of proper and well-function playground, made this group of children accompanied by their parents, play in this abandoned tennis court.


My personal and initial question was “how these children could enjoy their time?” “Is it their curiosity?” “Is it their limitless imagination?” or perhaps their point of view towards the world? From what I saw and self-contemplating for five minutes or so, it really fascinates me in the way that it kind of reminded me that the world to them is a huge-limitless playground, is it? The streets as their playground, playground?

This sentence just came up to instantly “Show me your favorite things, earthlings?” Why ‘earthlings’? First the truth meaning of earthlings is inhabitants of the planet Earth. Earthling is a term commonly used in science fiction to identify Earth born organisms. The term "earthling" referred to a mortal inhabitant of the Earth as opposed to spiritual or divine entities.  Since we more often refer to ourselves as "people" or "humans," assuming that we are all from Earth. An earthling is someone who lives on the planet Earth. In science fiction books and movies, people are called earthlings to distinguish them from aliens. E.T. was definitely not an earthling. In stories, a human being, especially when talked to or talked about by a creature from another planet. Earthlings; an inhabitant of the earth or human being – Mortal; Earth dweller who believes in humanity. First, a human that inhabits the planet Earth and second, a person devoted to the world; a world ling. Earthlings is a creature bound to the earth who realizes earth will always be home although it is forced to live with religions, politicians and overall clueless people to the final objective of the life force making it almost impossible to breathe. Can’t we all just behave?

Us? Human beings, human, the process of becoming human:
•    Childhood/Juvenile (Childbirth)(0 - 19)
•    Neonate (newborn) (0 – 28 days)
•    Infant (baby) (0 month - 12 months)
•    Toddler (1 – 3 years)
•    Play age (3 – 5 years)
•    Primary school age (middle childhood also called prepubescence) (3 - 11)
•    Elementary school age (5 - 11)
•    Preadolescence (The child in this and the previous phase are called schoolchild (schoolboy or schoolgirl), when still of primary school age.) (9 – 11 years)
•    Adolescence (12 – 19 years)
•    Peripuberty (8-10 until 15-17)

Based on the explanation above, I want express and emphasized that ‘earthlings’ on this on-going project is to document the category (the age range) between Play Age – Primary School Age – Elementary School – Preadolescence (Schoolchild) – Adolescence to Per puberty. By conducting this method of limitation of age (based on the range of age), it is emphasized to document children most impacted by or influenced by. What they see, they hear (audio visual aspect), and they will eventually imitate it. Their behavior is based on what they experienced on daily basis and on their daily life, is there any limitation? Education on school (formal) or family (informal) First, education, internally within the family and externally through what they teach in school and second, through the interaction they have with their friend (friendship). In early stage of their development, family and friends are mostly the foundation or the source of information on how they think, act, and react, to certain circumstance.

In other word, these ‘Earthlings’ are the next generation, the future generation, that’s why I’m keen to document the process of the early stage of their development. They will inherit the Earth; they inherited it (world, nation, country, society, family) from the previous generation. They are the future but how is the process to get there? From what I read on the media, the campaign of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is stated that Sustainable Development is how the present generation fulfilled their needs without sacrificing the needs of the next generation. The next question is; what’s left for the next generation? Let time answer that, it is elusive.

Every other time, I wonder what’s in their head. In their mind? For example, if we (photographers) direct or point out our camera to them, they will somehow react on various responses such as they will laugh or smile, they will shy away, they will runaway even they posed in front of the camera. Visually, it is obvious that they react spontaneously, based on what’s on their mind and psychologically speaking, they are curious about the camera or maybe the photographer. When we think a like a child, maybe we will learn that their curiosity drives their creativity in a positive way; Curiosity is one of the best characteristics of children as well– as it makes them fearless and open to the rest of the outside world. They will play, scream, smile, cry, run, breathe and at the end of the day, they learned something when they’re exposed to something, especially something new; Based on what they’re told by family, friends, school (teachers) and children exposed to different culture – media – social media – television – Video Games, they act and react, it’s a chain reaction. These external influences will impact their characteristics, knowledge, perspective, mind and behavior throughout their childhood and these kinds of exposures also will shape them (psychologically and mentally) and how they co-exist and fit into the society and community. It is a matter of time that they will bloom into adolescent, their fluorescent adolescent and entering the adolescent phase to become a teenager into the phase of coming of age.

’Earthlings’ is a documentary about the future generation, its behavior and a glimpse about childhood, with analogue photography as a medium to record, to capture such behavior of children in certain areas in Bandung. The limitation of age range in this project visualized and emphasized on how they act and react into certain situation that occurred in the society. Their innocence still exist, their point of view; the streets as their playground regardless of the ever-changing culture, the fast-paced technology, how their reaction towards the camera and exposed to them; how their honesty and curiosity. The objective is to document their living condition in certain environment, their behavior and their expressiveness, they way they are, as they are in their very own environment where they live and grew up in, to tell like it is. Personally, I want to make a book of ‘Earthlings’ and initiate an exhibition of ‘Earthlings’ and hopefully, the sale of one book will be donated to certain foundations or organization that concern the living condition and well-being of children in Bandung. A small contribution that I hope that will improve their living condition, education and hopefully their well-being.  After all, they are the next and the future generation and at least, all we can do is to help them and contribute as much as we could, maybe just to push them a little. It’s not just to capture the innocent beauty of children in Bandung but also beyond that to document their life, because photographs is a gift for the future and eventually they will open ‘Earthlings’ and discover some familiar faces, familiar landscapes in the book. Take it as a gift from the present, to see how far they’ve become. So then tell me, what are your favorite things, earthlings?

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