Category: Blog

Halo, kamu, aku sepuluh tahun lalu

2009-2019

Halo, kamu, aku sepuluh tahun lalu.
Hang in there, buddy, everything would be okay.

Aku tahu, kamu masih gamang menentukan arah hidupmu. Tahun sebelumnya begitu menyenangkan. Kamu bisa menghirup udara negeri yang sudah lama kita impikan dan hidup di sana, meski sejenak. Kamu bertemu orang-orang yang menginspirasimu untuk terus melangkah. Dan kamu ingin terus melangkah pergi kan?

Jangan kuatir. Semuanya akan baik-baik saja.

Tahun ini kamu harus memilih antara pekerjaan (project yang nilainya cukup untuk nge-kickstart startup yang kamu impikan!) atau sebuah pertunjukan musik dengan orang-orang terdekatmu. Aku bangga dengan pilihanmu. Aku tahu, di satu sisi kamu akan merasa gagal dan terpuruk. Bersabarlah, sebuah petualangan menarik menantimu di awal 2010.

Tahu tidak, semua yang terbaik di sepuluh tahun selanjutnya, dimulai di tahunmu. Kamu akan bertemu dengan orang-orang yang akan membuka jalanmu ke semua sudut yang ga pernah kamu bayangkan sebelumnya: mereka yang akan berbagi ilmu dan pengalamannya, mereka yang akan menjadi rekan dalam berkarya, dan mereka yang takkan jauh darimu sampai sepuluh tahun mendatang.

Aku bisa bilang sekarang, apa yang kamu inginkan saat itu bisa kita raih: beragam pengalaman bermusik dan berkarya, perjalanan ke tempat-tempat yang tidak terbayangkan, dan bertukar pikiran dengan berbagai kepribadian dari penjuru dunia.

Sepuluh tahun selanjutnya akan seperti apa, aku tak tahu. Tapi itu yang bikin hidup lebih menarik, bukan?

Bandung, 2009 – Stockholm, 2019

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100 Weeks of Master’s Programme (part 4)

This is part 4 (last) of a series started here.

4. Social study of media technology

These two courses were not mandatory. They were not even from my programme. As soon as I knew that my mandatory and elective courses quota is fulfilled, I looked beyond my programme and department to find interesting courses.

  • Science Goes Fiction: Science Fiction, Film, and Technological Futures in a Historical Perspective (link)
  • Future of Media

In Science Goes Fiction, I got to watch a science fiction film every week and wrote on a topic related to the film as the assignments. Of course, the films were not just any films. The purpose was to study how the films reflected the history and development of science. Those films could be regarded as an archive of the image of the future from the past.

The films were Frankenstein (1931), Silent Running (1972), Tron (1982), Threads (1984), Soylent Green (1973), Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (1999), Ghost in the Shell (both 1995 and 2017), and GATTACA (1997). In addition, for the assignments I chose Predestination (2014) and wrote about time; for the poster assignment I chose to compare the original Metropolis (1927) vs the Japanese adaptation in 2001 and wrote about the different depiction of robots in different time and society; and for the final paper assignment I chose Ex Machina (2014) to go deeper into the depiction of robot and AI in it.

Yes, that Pokemon movie. There's a paper about how the franchise interrogates the relationship between environmentalism, materialism, and sustainable development. Deep.

Yes, that Pokemon movie. There’s a paper  about how the franchise interrogates the relationship between environmentalism, materialism, and sustainable development. Deep.

Future of Media is the course where the students discuss future possibilities of a certain field within the frame of design fiction. Past themes ranged from the future of radio, the future of news, and the future of gaming. This year, the theme was the future of work and the work of the future. First half of the the course filled with seminars and guest lectures, discussing the present state of “work” and how it would change in the future, ranging from digital transformation, digital labor platform (crowdsourcing), to the universal basic income. Second half of the course filled with group projects. Our group explored the future of biohacking at work.

 

I enjoyed the nature of these two courses, discussion on the possibilities of technology. Science fiction movies could be accepted as an archive of the images of the future, to frame the progress of science and technology in fiction. Both courses encouraged me to reflect and write, with Future of Media even landed me my first symposium presentation in Berlin. Unfortunately, this would be the last time the course is given.

 

5. Project courses

Finally, at the end of the programme there were two project courses.

  • Advanced Project Course in Interactive Media Technology
  • Master Thesis in Media Technology and Interaction Design

Advanced Project Course could be seen as the last trial before Thesis. In the course, students worked with research groups in the department. Student groups were then tasked with projects related to the ongoing research. My project was to enrich children’s playground with technology. We designed a set of objects which can easily be attached to trees, and which invite children to explorative play.

 

Master Thesis was, of course, the final project of the programme. I worked with smart fabrics and created interactive sofa cushions that can be used to control music. I plan to write more of the project in another post.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you my thesis, MusiCushions

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you my thesis, MusiCushions

 

So, what’s next?

Well, my path continues here. And by here I meant the same university, the same department. I am joining the Sound and Music Computing research group and going to work with research in the use of sound in human-robot interaction. So, yeah, I’m happy that everything I learned during my Master will be useful for the next several years: interaction design, sound and music, even the design fiction.

I will, definitely, write more about this in the future. In the meantime, let me know if there’s any specific subject you want me to write in details.

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100 Weeks of Master’s Programme (part 3)

This is part 3 of a series started here.

3. Interaction design

These courses were taken with the consideration of building a future career in interaction design / UX design.

  • Interaction Design Methods (link)
  • Interaction Design as a Reflective Practice (link)
  • Physical Interaction Design and Realization (link)

Interaction Design Methods course provided the basic knowledge of how an interaction designer works. Different types of designs were discussed (commercial design, experimental design, responsible design, discursive design), along with methods development (i.e: agile) and evaluation. One key concept from this course that I have used in many following courses is the Double Diamond process.

Read more here.

Read more here.

For the final project in the course, our group was tasked to redesign an internal student web portal called KTH Social.

 

While the previous course provided design theories and guidelines, in Interaction Design as Reflective Practice the students were encouraged to be more mindful of our design. One example of the concepts shared in the course was Wabi-Sabi, an eastern philosophy of imperfection that could be applied to product design. The course was a project course with a different theme each year. The theme this year was “misuse”. Students were tasked to choose an everyday object and design a novel misuse for the object, to repurpose the object. Our group chose water bottle, and came up with the idea to use the bottle as a water filter device. We imagined a connected filtering cap that could be attached to any standard PET bottle.

 

In Physical Interaction Design course, the focus was on the form elements of interaction design. The elements are the physical form (shape, color, texture, etc), interaction gestalt (action / performance of movements, touching, pulling, moving, etc), and the temporal form of the object (state changes, flow control). The course was also a project course, and the theme of the year was “robot”. Yes, we got to build a robot! By far, this is the course I enjoyed the most during this two year period. It even shaped an interest for the future that I want to work in the field of physical interaction design, moving away from screen and my previous interest in VR. Our group built the coolest sunflower robot ever. Check the following video to see it in action!

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100 Weeks of Master’s Programme (part 2)

This is part 2 of a series started here.

2. Sound and music

I’ve worked as sound designer for a while back home, and I just want to learn more.

  • Audio Technology (link)
  • Sound in Interaction (link)
  • Musical Communication and Music Technology (link)

Audio Technology was the most difficult course I had during these two years period. There were lots of physics on acoustics and signal processing, covering topics from analog to digital conversion, audio coding and compression, to 3D sound.

I might have been allergic to derivatives too

I might have been allergic to derivatives too

Sound in Interaction course focused sound as information carrier. Sound is used extensively in our interaction with technology, from smartphone notification sound to feedback of our action. Human perception of sound is again discussed in the course. The concept of sonification was also introduced, where sound is used for data visualization. My final project in the course was to design an interaction for Sound Forest, an art installation built by our department for an art museum in Stockholm. Our group came up with Sound Forest: Creatures. Have a look at the following video to see it in action. 

 

There are four main actors in music: composer, musician, music instrument, and the audience. Composer creates score for the musician, musician applies certain gestures on the instrument, and the instrument produces sound for the audience to listen to. These chain of events is described as Musical Communications, hence the name of the course. Technology could be applied for any of the actors, from AI creating composition, musician robot, digital music instruments, to audience model in computer. Each of the applications was discussed in the course, as well as how sound and music are used in film and video games. My final project in the course was machine learning, exploring generative models of creating chord progressions. We trained a series of HMM (Hidden Markov Models) and LSTM with compositions from Bach and had the machine generating chord progressions.

Truth

Truth

In general, I’m happy with these sound-related courses. Especially after years of working as sound designer, I finally get the opportunity the learn more of the field and the new technologies around it.

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100 Weeks of Master’s Programme (part 1)

I like the idea of having 2-year goals, only because there’s a nice round 100-week period in it (plus the extra 4 weeks for holiday). And I have just finished one of those periods, namely the Master’s Programme of Interactive Media Technology at KTH, Stockholm. As a closure, I would like to reflect on the courses I took.

There are several tracks / specializations to choose from in the programme,  and I tailored my courses as a mix between interaction design and sonic media (have a look here for more info on the programme). Looking back, I think my courses could be grouped into 5 categories. I am going to share about the courses in several posts.

  1. General courses
  2. Sound and music
  3. Interaction design
  4. Social study of media technology
  5. Final project courses
No worries, this never happened

No worries, this never happened. Unless when it was a laptop instead of books. That happened.

1. General courses

These courses formed the foundation of the whole programme.

  • Human Perception for Information Technology (link)
  • Research Methods in Interactive Media Technology (link)
  • Sustainability and Media Technology (link)

The first two were mandatory. Sustainability course was only mandatory for students in the 5-year bachelor + master programme, but I thought it was interesting so I took it anyway.

Human Perception course is about understanding how we, human, interact with our environment. Stimulus from the environment are captured by our receptors, transported by neural network into our brain where perception and recognition take place. Perception is the interpretation of sensation, to become aware of something, and it can happen without previous knowledge. Recognition, on the other hand, requires knowledge. As you can imagine, there were some physiology and psychology aspects discussed in the course.

Remember this?

Remember this?

Research Methods course, as implied in its name, is about methods of research used in the field of media technology. The course started by exploring the philosophy of science. Yes, all those names from Descartes, Hume, Kant, Popper, and several others were all discussed, along with concepts of scientific reasoning, demarcation problem, and others. I remember I was actually enjoyed the discussions, but now after almost 2 years I can’t recall much of them.

I remember the Sustainability course as an eye-opener. I had no idea how serious the problem of sustainability was, having minimum exposure of it back home (save for that phrase “no growth no sustain” that was repeated rather sarcastically in one of the company I worked for). Economic sustainability is only one part of the issue. There is also the need for social sustainability and ecological sustainability. Have a look at UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for more details.

Ecological sustainability is probably the most urgent among the three. The Earth is finite, it has its limits and planetary boundaries. And in this age of humankind (Anthropocene), human is degrading the planet. Related to ICT, most of the times we only look at how much power is used by a piece of technology. We should look at the whole life cycle, from mineral extraction, production, all the way to waste management. A smartphone, for example, might consume only 4 kWh to charge in a year of use, but it has consumed more than 278 kWh to produce. I tried to trace the materials used in my smartphone, and found that the manufacturer obtained the tin from Bangka island in Indonesia. In a way, I might have contributed to the destruction of the island.

I'm conflicted. I still need my phone (I mean, I can't just throw it away now, right?) but I feel bad for the island

I’m conflicted. I still need my phone (I mean, I can’t just throw it away now, right?) but I feel bad for the island. I hope the mining and smelters are managed properly.

As general courses go, I need to remind myself that these courses are essential. And if I want to stay in the field of interaction design, I need to keep on reading on related materials.

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Delapan Tahun Berlalu

Tahun 2008, saya kembali dari Italia ke Indonesia dengan perasaan campur aduk.

Di satu sisi, saya hepi karena bisa merasakan hidup di luar negeri, meskipun hanya tiga bulan kurang sedikit. Tidak tanggung-tanggung, lokasinya pun sebuah kota kecil nan indah di atas bukit wilayah Tuscany, bernama Siena. Entah sudah berapa lama sebelumnya saya terobsesi dengan Italia: musiknya, bahasanya, makanannya, sejarahnya, dan lain sebagainya. Kesempatan itu datang berbentuk kursus singkat bahasa dan budaya, dan saya manfaatkan sebaik-baiknya untuk menghirup sebanyak mungkin Italia.

Di sisi lain, saya pulang dengan rasa yang sama seperti sebuah tim sepak bola yang menjadi bulan-bulanan lalu tersisih dalam fase grup piala dunia: pulang terlalu dini, meskipun masih banyak mimpi yang terasa dekat namun ternyata begitu jauh. Awalnya, saya tidak ingin langsung pulang, tetapi melanjutkan studi atau mencari pekerjaan di sana. Namun bulan-bulan di sana tidaklah mulus. Persiapan yang sangat kurang memunculkan banyak masalah.

Saya tidak menyesal (oke, mungkin kadang-kadang masih menyesal). Perjalanan tersebut membuka banyak wawasan dan sudut pandang baru. Dan terutama, saya jadi punya mimpi-mimpi baru: ingin lebih banyak melihat dunia, ingin lebih fokus bermusik (dan tampil di gedung-gedung kuno Eropa!), ingin melanjutkan kuliah, dan masih banyak lagi. Keputusan-keputusan yang diambil setelah itu pun mengarah pada mewujudkan mimpi-mimpi ini. Keputusan untuk tidak mengejar karir di perusahaan besar (yang mana sebenarnya adalah mimpi Ibu untuk saya. Mohon maaf ya Bu), keputusan untuk lebih aktif bermusik (dan berkesenian secara umum), dan keputusan untuk aktif dalam komunitas-komunitas untuk membuka lebih banyak wawasan baru.

Tentu saja, perjalanan setelahnya tidak selalu mulus. Terlebih saya gampang teralihkan perhatiannya pada hal-hal baru. Untungnya masih ada yang mengingatkan saya pada tujuan. Jalan pun terkadang muncul secara tidak terduga, seperti misalnya bisa tampil berpaduan suara di sejumlah kota di Filipina pada tahun 2013 dan di Prancis pada tahun 2014. Saya juga bisa menyempatkan diri mengunjungi berbagai tempat-tempat menarik di Indonesia dan beberapa negara lainnya, meskipun belum bisa menjangkau semua tempat yang ingin dikunjungi.

Dan kini, setelah delapan tahun berlalu, satu lagi mimpi berhasil terwujud: melanjutkan studi S2 di luar negeri. Jalan untuk mewujudkan ini tidaklah mudah. Apalagi IPK S1 saya kurang baik, fakta ini saja sudah menutup sejumlah jalan terutama untuk beasiswa. Sangat bersyukur pada Tuhan untuk kesempatan studi lanjutan ini, yang sudah tertunda cukup lama.

Delapan tahun itu tidaklah sia-sia. Berbagai pengalaman di dalamnya seolah mempersiapkan saya untuk studi ini. Jika pada 2008 saya dapat langsung melanjutkan studi, bisa jadi saya tidak akan mendapatkan banyak pengalaman bermusik seperti yang saya alami di Bandung. Bisa jadi saya tidak akan pernah terjun ke dunia game development yang sangat menarik. Bisa jadi saya tidak akan pernah bertemu orang-orang yang menjadi inspirasi dan pendorong bagi saya. Kalau diingat-ingat, di tahun 2008 itu barangkali saya masih begitu naif, dan kehidupan tiga bulan di Italia itu adalah salah satu titik balik penting dalam hidup.

Pun demikian sekarang. Studi S2 di Swedia ini adalah sebuah titik balik baru dalam hidup. Sebuah mimpi yang terwujud, namun masih ada konsekuensi yang harus dijalani (belajar, tentu saja), serta berbagai pengalaman baru yang menanti.

Sebuah awal baru

Seorang teman pernah bertanya, apa yang harus dilakukan saat seseorang berhasil mewujudkan mimpinya? Kupikir, jawabannya sudah jelas bukan?

Mari kembali bermimpi.

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Sebuah Kesalahan

Sudah lama saya ingin aktif menulis dalam bentuk blog. Entah sudah berapa usaha menulis rutin di Blogspot dan Tumblr yang pada akhirnya terhenti begitu saja di tengah jalan. Padahal ide untuk tulisan tak pernah habis, selalu ada saja ide-ide yang begitu menggoda untuk dituliskan.

Barangkali, sumber masalahnya adalah ketidakpedean, atau mungkin keinginan untuk menghasilkan sesuatu yang sempurna, yang lebih baik dari orang lain. Apalagi ada orang-orang di sekitar saya yang sepertinya dapat dengan mudah menghasilkan sesuatu. Tentang tulis-menulis ini bisa jadi sama dengan sejumlah ide musik yang pada akhirnya hanya berhenti dalam bentuk rekaman sketsa kasar, ataupun ide-ide lainnya yang berhenti pada sketsa dan coretan di lembaran kertas yang entah-sekarang-di-mana.

Sepertinya, saya harus belajar membuat kesalahan. Just do it, katanya. Tuliskan saja apa yang dipikirkan, eksekusi saja ide-ide yang bermunculan. Toh, bisa dipastikan bahwa hasilnya akan tidak sempurna (apa sih yang sempurna di bawah langit ini?) dan kesalahan pasti akan terjadi. Jadi, apa lagi yang dikhawatirkan? Justru dari kesalahan itulah pelajaran bisa dipetik.

Jadi di sinilah saya dengan sebuah blog baru. Mohon dimaklumi jika nantinya ada kesalahan, atau malah berhenti di tengah jalan lagi.

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