Have you noticed the giant LED display on Mall Taman Anggrek has a new feature?

As a resident of an apartment complex with unobstructed westward view, I’ve become a big fan of the Mall Taman Anggrek LED facade. As the sun sets over Jakarta’s milky skyline, colors and advertising messages come to a flickering life. Soon, the massive building begins to glow. And watching this, I feel part of a grand, futuristic, urban scenario.

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Photo by Standard Vision (This company built the Taman Aggrek’s LED facade)

So, naturally, last time on the way home from Soekarno Hatta Airport, I made a point of greeting my beloved wall from up close. A pleasant surprise that, instead of the usual ads, there was somehting new going on: The central tall column of the setup invites passers-by to send tweets with the hashtag #TAmonsters. Cute cartoon monsters with your tweet in a speech bubble then proceed to crawl across the screen. “yoo the interactive LED  wall at taman anggrek is.pretty dope! #tamonsters!” I tweeted, then craned my neck in vein as I had passed before I could see “my” monster in action.

“Still”, I said to myself, “Still! – this is pretty cool. I want to find out who did this.”

My first hunch was that it was the PR project of a big toy or games company. Are TAmonsters the new Pokemon? Who knows what kids play with these days.

But it’s actually better than that. The people behind this project are Toge Productions, a small local game developer. These are real geeks given a free pass to experiment with the giant display by Iris Worldwide, an agency which creates content for the Taman Anggrek Billboard.

I asked Kris Antoni, one of the two founders of Toge Productions, a few questions about the project.

 

Q. Why did Iris invite you to do this project?

A. The LED Billboard on Mall Taman Anggrek is very very big. The LED Billboard actually consist of 4 separateLED panels. 2 smaller screens with high resolution and 2 largre screens with lower resolution.

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Screen Configuration at Mall Taman Anggrek LED Billboard. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

Before we got on board with the project, most of the content shown in the LED Billboard were either videos or images. Iris often created and rendered 4 different videos for each segment of the LED Billboard. When viewed together, it appears as a seamless video. But the creation of these videos can take days. This approach can clearly not be used for interactive content.

Iris once tried to make the screen interactive for their “ASK TAMI” campaign in 2012, but they faced a lot of technical challenges that were left unresolved.

In early 2013 they decided to attempt another interactive wall campaign, to take it to the next level. And to overcome the technical challenges, Iris asked for our help. Our company is a small independent game development studio. We work on our own game projects. We don’t usually accept work for hire, but this project got our interest because it’s cool and unique.

Q. As I gather from your blog, your initial ambition was to create an interactive humans vs. zombies multiplayer game on the screen. However, you finally decided to simplify it a lot. What do you think could be done improve the gameplay and to make the experience last longer for passers-by?

A. Most of the “players” or audience right now are in a car passing the mall. They only have a few minutes to understand what is going on with the screen. This is why we decided to reduce the concept to its essence. We want people to understand the concept and play with the screen as quickly as possible.

We are going to work on a companion mobile app with a lot of cool new stuff in it. We would also love to add a few mini-games and more interactions on the LED Screen.

Q. Can people inside the Mall interact with the wall?

A. Not at the moment. But that too will hopefully change once we have the companion mobile app.

Q. How did the Mall Taman Anggrek Management react to the idea?

A. They are great people to work with. They are very open to ideas and suggestions, they gave us full creative freedom, with some minor legal guidelines. It’s awesome!

Q. How long will #TAmonsters still be visible?

A. Taman Anggrek has not set any timeframe. Right now it seems it will run indefinitely.

Q. What was the most creative use from a player?

A. I would say traffic reports. Some also tried to use it as a tool to promote their twitter account or sell products. We had to remove these posts though. Most are random but funny rants.

Q. What did you do to promote the project?

A. Nothing much, only a few posters inside the mall, a few tweets and blog posts.

Q. Do you think this experiment could be the start of some more creative use of the TAMI LED wall? Is Mall Taman Anggrek open to the idea? 

A. I think there will be more cool stuff in the future!

 

The project has already won several awards at Citra Pariwara 2013, which Kris calls “The Oscars for Indonesian Advertising.”

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TAmonsters in action. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

 

Crocodile Pit

These are some photos taken at the “Lubang Buaya” complex in Jakarta, near the Halim Airport. An old military facility, this is said to be the site where seven high ranking Indonesian Army officials where tortured and murdered by “communist traitors” in an attempt to overthrow the government in 1965.

The memorial site consists of huts containing “relics” and life-size figures, depicting scenes of the capture and intimidation of the generals, the well into which the bodies of the generals were disposed of, the Pancasila Monument with a bas relief showing a sequence of events starting from Sukarnos presidency under the NASAKOM priciples until the handover of power to General Suharto, who later became president.

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Pretty impressive and haunting piece of state propaganda. The whole place is designed to give you the chills and conjure a sense of indisputable “truth”. Nearby is the “Museum of Communist Treachery”. I can imagine visiting this place as a child can have a long lasting traumatizing effect.

 

Wiji Thukul – aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

Tempo magazine last week brought out a special about the poet and activist Wiji Thukul, who “disappeared” in 1998 along with 12 other activists. Thukul is still missing until today. The magazine included a booklet with some of his poems. I’m sure they have been translated to English and Dutch before, but I could not find one in German. So here is my go at one of the poems I liked most: aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

 

aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

Ich werde von meiner eigenen Regierung gejagt
als trüge ich
eine gefährliche Krankheit in mir

Ich bin nun ein Gesetzesbrecher
Doch gegen das Gesetz einer Regierung zu verstoßen
die tyrannisch ist
ist kein Fehler
Selbst wenn sie mich hineinwerfen
in eins ihrer Gefängnisse

Nun liege ich rücklings
auf der Ladefläche eines LKWs
der sehr schnell vorankommt
Tasche und Handrücken
stützen mich als Kissen

ich nehme
die Frische der Nachtluft in mir auf
der Himmel ist ganz klar
von Millionen von Sternen

ehrlich
erst heute Nacht
sind meine Lungen auf diese Weise frei

Die Nacht ist ganz klar
wie meine Gedanken
Obwohl die Mächtigen planen
alles aufzuwühlen

Doch wer schafft es
die Ruhe der Sterne zu stören?

 

Indonesian original by Wiji Thukul

aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri
layaknya aku ini
penderita penyakit berbahaya

aku sekarang buron
tapi jadi buron pemerintah yang
lalim
bukanlah cacat
pun seandainya aku dijebloskan
ke dalam penjaranya

aku sekarang terlentang
di belakang bak truk
yang melaju kencang
berbantal tas
dan punggung tangan

kuhisap dalam-dalam
segarnya udara malam
langit amat jernih
oleh jutaan bintang

sungguh
baru malam ini
begitu merdeka paru-paruku

malam sangat jernih
sejernih pikiranku
walau penguasa hendak
mengeruhkan
tapi siapa mampu mengusik
ketenangan bintang-bintang?