Through The Lens: Exploring the Unknown

The sun assaults my senses when I walk out the doors of the Sidney Myer building. Rushing across campus to Arts West, I quickly scarf down a couple of sushi rolls I’d bought earlier and anxiously check the time on my phone. 5.28. 2 minutes to get to the Forum Theatre? I weigh my options and decide I’d rather be late than sprint and risk faceplanting in the middle of South Lawn, a scene that is just waiting to be turned into a meme on Unimelb Confessions.Read more

How to enjoy your last few days of summer

It certainly wouldn't be a surprise that Melbourne has the best cafés and restaurants Australia has to offer. From the waters of the Yarra River right at the heart of Melbourne and all the way down south to the famous St. Kilda beach, you would be hard pressed to try and find a place that isn't good. But, quality dining certainly wouldn't be enough without a magnificent view to accompany it. So if you, like us, can only settle for the best, then we are here to guide you to the best Melbourne seaside dining experience with our list.Read more

Unsubscribe Me, Please!

7.50 a.m. alarm rings. Half-awake. Grope for phone. Refresh. Scroll down and scroll down. Notifications. Likes. Comments. Check for viewers of Insta stories. Lock off. Back to sleep. “Am I one of those victims?,” I ask myself.Read more

Growing up Asian in White Man’s World

There are many pivotal moments in one’s life that mean almost nothing at that time. Sometimes, the everlasting influence of those moments can only be understood when you look back and recall the emotions attached. A woman can reminisce the first time she wore a dress and recognised that moment as her first taste of feminism; a man can remember the many dates he took his wife and pinpoint the moment he knew he loved her; almost every adult can find innocent moments of their past and delight in the impression it left behind. Individuals evolve by learning from mistakes and lessons. Looking back now at the mature age of twenty-four, I realise that there are many experiences that have left a permanent mark on both the character I am today and the legacy I leave behind. At age nine with a backpack on one shoulder, I waited at a bus stop in the western suburbs of Melbourne. A book in one hand and the leftovers of a packed lunch box in the other, I minded my own business like any other day. I drank a juice box like everyone else did and ate the remaining half of a peanut butter sandwich that my refugee parents made but never tasted. A car screeched around the corner and a conditioned instinct kicked in. I held firm onto the straps of my bag and prepared myself to receive some sort of bigotry. Typically, angry drunkards or senile figures would have said ignorant racial slurs that just roll off their tongues and leave it at that. by this time, however, those sorts of insults did not hurt anymore. Nonetheless, this encounter was different. It might have been the first time I learned the difference between a meritless bully and a racist. The man, who seemed to have too much time on his hand, rolled his window down and shouted with defiant aggression: “Go home - you don’t belong here!”. His bullet-like words were accompanied by a cowardly spit as he sped off into distance. When you grow up being a minority, you simply succumb to those sorts of behaviour. Being much older now with a little more wisdom, I finally recognise that moment as the first time I understood racism and saw myself differently. Before then, the concepts of racism and privilege were just terms that were taught, but no one actually learned of its consequences. Before then, the fact that the vast and specific references to my ethnicity are racist just eluded me. Before then, I naively assumed that some people were mean and nothing more. Before then, I thought that I was just like everyone else. I remember feeling confused on whether or not such taunts were specifically aimed at me. Judging by the way the gentleman sitting on the bus bench tilted his head away as if nothing had happened, I knew that this act of malice was mine to receive. But I am just going home - I’m at the bus stop - what just happened? Did he really spit at me? Instead of seeking equality, I came to desire “white” privilege. When you are a child, you do not see race as a divide. Racial inequality is something that is learned gradually and socially constructed. White is better, blonde is prettier and minorities come second.   I am the child of immigrants but was born Australian. I speak one language indoors and another outside. Despite being raised in two different cultures, I did not know where I belong back then. All I knew was that I was not like everyone else, but wanted to be. Growing up as a first generation Asian-Australian, there was never any form of minority representation. Everyone in the media was white. The only ethnic figures under media limelight were either the subjects of scrutiny or in cartoons. Here and there, we would sometimes spot an Asian character on screen that was relatable to the minority group. But even then, they were probably supernatural characters or had fighting skills that were comically theatrical.   Twenty years ago, the Australian society was hesitant to accept the existence of the minority groups. Introductions of multicultural restaurant and cuisines were gradual while xenophobia roamed the community. Minority children in the Western suburb grew to believe that their race meant that they were only qualified for second place. To this day, ethnic representation is an ongoing topic that is seemingly heard and discussed from time to time. Yet somehow, the issue of whitewashing remains prevalent. The same arguments are addressed, then expected apologies are released in the press. However, the cycle of identical empty promises often repeats. However, it is arguable that the Australian society has flourished into a moral state very different from the one decades ago. The variety of human characteristics, that is ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, are now being embraced and celebrated. The other day, I was on a public transport on my way to complete a university exam. As I sat with a book, I thought to myself: who would have thought that the same kid who got spat on at a bus stop for being a minority would be graduating with journalistic major? The moment that marked my first understanding of racism eventually flourished into a driving motivation to prove stereotypical societal expectations wrong. The Australian society has travelled a long way on the journey of equality. Nowadays, it is no longer a bewildering sight to see children of diverse race playing together in the same school yard, to see different ethnic groups tasting a variety of international cuisines while enjoying each other’s company. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go despite the evident growth. Minority groups are still often the subject of discrimination and hate speech. Immigrants and refugees are still unwelcome. Race and nationality have entered the thrones of major political debates. While the (mostly) white politicians debate on the welfare of the minority, they often forget that we too are humans.   However, if there’s anything I am sure of is that they cannot take away the fact that I am Asian. I am Australian. And I am proud.

Policing Technology in Indonesia

Internet Positif:  A website frequently encountered by Indonesians, especially men. The strikingly red background is symbolic of government bureaucracy that stands between people and a world of simple pleasures. To most people, it’s not really a problem because they grow accustomed to hacking around any digital restrictions, which explains why lots of Indonesian teenagers are highly skilled when it comes to this.  Yet, we tend to forget that the familiar red webpage is actually an impedance towards a fully developed creative industry. Now, I am going to steer clear from the over-debated issues on internet policing’s effects on democracy, or whether censorship is effective in correcting Indonesia’s moral attitudes (it never had been and would never be, as evidenced by the popularity of Maria Ozawa between male teenagers). Instead, let’s look at how censorship and regulatory uncertainty has impaired the growth of intellectual property based economy, and how the government should change its approach. It is rarely well-understood by the public how censorship impedes the growth of the creative economy. This is due to the rather inconspicuous nature of the relationship between the two. An illustration of this impediment would be how censorship enables the development of monopolies, such as Telkom blocking Netflix in order to advance its own iFlix service. (While officially Telkom bans Netflix due to inappropriate content, the giant telecommunications company ironically hints that it would lift the ban if Netflix is willing to exclusively partner with them). Indonesia does not have a net neutrality law, and does permit governmental monopoly over several sectors. However, it is questionable whether digital entertainment is covered under the clause of “important strategic industry”, a term used to describe whether an industry should be rightfully controlled by the government because it is contributing significantly to the national economy, such in the case of petrol and arms. Censorship also decreases the ability for individuals to create content. This not only limits what they can include in their content, but puts them at risk of getting sued if someone disagrees or feels offended.  Censorship is not only about nudity and pornography, but also blasphemy, insulation, and other offensive-based charges. One of the most recent notable cases of this issue occurred to Kaesang, the son of the current Indonesian president, who got reported for blasphemy. The charge, however, was soon dropped. The Indonesian laws regarding the freedom of speech are very vague, and judicial decision concerning the charges are heavily influenced by popular opinion rather than an objective legal process. It is also very muchly politically motivated, as exemplified by the arrest of many meme makers who criticised Setya Novanto. This legal uncertainty creates a hostile environment towards content creators, and thus impedes the development of an intellectual property industry. Nevertheless, the issue with censorship does not end with content creators needing to secure an insurance for the freedom of expression. These active users also need to know the stable availability of certain social media platforms before they invest the resources necessary to create good contents or services.  YouTubers, for example, need to know that YouTube would not be blocked by the government before they invest their time, effort and money into producing a video. Furthermore, social media marketing agencies need to know whether Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter would be available for Indonesian citizens if they were to consider these platforms as target markets. After all, digital content is expected to replace traditional media and become independent from the latter platform. Therefore, we need to make access to digital content economically viable and justifiable for people to invest in media content. Companies must be able to make sure that they will be able to profit from digitisation and not get their platform banned due to vague rules. For instance Gojek, Indonesia’s first startup to exceed one billion dollar in revenue, often receives threats of bans because it competes with  traditional transport providers. This demonstrates the fragility of Indonesia’s current digital industry due to regulatory uncertainty. Subsequently, fluctuating and uncertain censorship makes it hard to monetize creative content and intellectual property. Digital platforms and their materials need stability for monetization to happen. For example, the Indonesian Minister of Informations once made a threat to block YouTube threat despite stating otherwise a year before. This further demonstrates the government’s pre-existing uncertainty when it comes to dealing with censorships. As a result, profit-seeking companies are hesitant to sponsor YouTubers amidst rumors that  YouTube would be blocked. No exchange of goods or services means no monetisation, which in turn indicates no economic incentive that is supposedly the blood regulating and running through the veins of any industry. In order to develop the Indonesian digital industry, it is significant to provide an intellectual industry-friendly internet access for the public. This also necessitates a change to Indonesia’s current approach to censorship and digital services regulation. The most significant economic effect of  censorship is produced not by the actual practice of banning itself, but by the resulting uncertainty surrounding the stability of the online media platforms. What the government needs are clear-cut and simple rules. Here are some regulations that I am proposing: simplify censorship rules into the internationally recognised standards of no genitalia, and ensure the total freedom of expression when it comes to content as long as there is no pornography. This is for the sake of simplicity since many major digital platforms have already recognized these standards and implemented it according to their own measures. Secondly, the government should ease the implementation of digital business ideas and models by reconsidering and revising trade and services regulations in the transport industry. This includes, but not limited to, allowing individuals to operate as rideshare drivers and introducing security standards for digital payments. The government should also adopt a net neutrality rule to prevent conflict of interest from competing Internet Service Providers while improving telecommunications infrastructure to provide better and speedier networking system. The bottom line is, in order to develop a successful digital-creative industry, the government must iron out its policies into one that is simple and clear while cultivating a trustworthy legal atmosphere that is friendly to both content creators and investors. In this way, the government can also benefit from the transaction and asset flow within the national economy.

Green Thumb

Every day the skeletons in my backyard sing And every day I water their flowers I take care of them; make bouquets out of them Every night I sang them lullabies To drown out the howling sounds Because the more these flowers bloom The less people are able to tell… It’s an absolute party down there


Click. Snap. Send. Instant posts of the latest trend. Snippets of existence Through a manifest of pixels. We carry in our hands The power to project A vague portrait. We show “Life”.   For creatures who crave purpose, We want a removal from it. Back then, If we truly desire something, We’d have to journey for it. And now, With swipes and clicks, We press to it. It renders efforts Effortless. Connection or Attention?   Growth is always encouraged. But how much is “too much”? Did technology flourish As flowers do? Or is it a blight of weeds Opposing our personal bloom? Have we evolved To consume with our eyes? Do we hunger for nourishment Or thirst for attention? Likes. Comments. Shares. Entertainment or Addiction?   We’ve stepped far in advancement By the tap of a button, We can let the world know What we want to show. But have we ever asked “why”? For yourself or the digital Divine? Who is truly in control? You? Or what you hold? Swipe up. Double tap. Hashtag.

The Green Field

We sit on the edge of nature. My friends and I, on a green pasture. We guard the field since the beginning, Guarding peace and harmony above everything.   You humans used to come and go, As there was no living space before. But once you created one, you remained. And since then, our lives began to change.   When the day ended, the bustle would fade, We’d look up to the sky and watch the sunset. We cherish those moments with you, Just staying quiet and basking in the view.   One day, came a young child with bright, Warm, brown eyes and short height. She was loving, gentle, and careful. Our days with her were always beautiful.   Because of that child, more humans came to us. And we protected them as one would. We made an unspoken promise. Unexplainable For you humans, but––for us––it was simple.   As we grew old, the city became busier, more alive. While others turned away, the girl with brown eyes Continued to stay. We watched her grow Alongside the city you call home.   Suddenly, she was gone and I became older, My skin rougher and my leaves withered. They say wisdom comes with age, but I could not foresee The roaring of the machines that would ravage the field.   I hear my friends scream. I hear the agony of their pleas. I have never witnessed such a slaughter Or felt such pain and such anger.   You pretend you can’t hear. You close your eyes so you can’t see. You leave and wash your bloody hands. Remove the dirt and dusty sands.   Perhaps the skies feel sorry for me. For they cry and wash away their bodies. It makes things easier for you, right? You don’t have to see your own blight.   How many moons has it been? Hard to gauge when all I see Are grey concrete and dull nights, The stars refusing to show their light.   Why should my friends be gone? Why I should remain? Not one Day would go by without me Wondering of what could’ve been.   “It’s a new start,” I always hear. But can you see the consequences of your greed? Your new start meant the death of my friends. Your beginning is––to many––their end! Hope is no longer something I can reach. It’s just nothing but a distant dream. Everyday I live like it’s my last. Always scared of you repeating your past.   A vehicle arrives to the concrete home you built. A husband opens the door to his wife’s seat. He takes her hand and leads her out. She cradles Their newborn. She looks troubled.   Our eyes meet for a second, Before anything happens, The husband calls for her. “It’s a new start,” he murmurs.   Today, I sit here, winter biting my skin, Leaves all dried, weak, and thin. I thought I was alone, but then I see her. I recognise that girl.   The same bright brown eyes, But much taller in height. She looks at me, and Says, “I miss you, old friend.”   Instead of her newborn in her arms, She guards something else from harm. A small sapling, Now sits beside me.   “I’m sorry you’re hurt.”

A Black Mirror on Technology

“Digital technology has made us antisocial.” Beneath those words lay an image of several people within a room. Their necks tilted down, their heads drawn to something in their hands as they keep to themselves. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that they are all gripped by their phones. We’ve all seen that image. An unshakable feeling of skepticism, fear, and paranoia about the advancement of digital technology has driven plenty of criticism recently. Doubts about their unreliability, lack of security, and proneness to error have been at the forefront of debates concerning the future. Even at social level, technology has been the subject of negative rumours. Allegations of its ability to decrease intelligence, seed unemployment, and pardon laziness often frequent the public sphere. Such fear of technology has been a recurring theme for quite a while. The dystopian genre in movies and TV shows is particularly compelling to the mass market. The popular anthology series Black Mirror, for instance, is controversial and self-conscious for its bold, yet realistic depiction of possible futures where our society relies heavily on technology. Westworld explores the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming self-aware by portraying an entire world constructed and maintained by technology for human entertainment. Even Wall-E, a movie targeted towards children, presents a world where technology exists purely to serve humans, who have degenerated into lazy, obese creatures. The sense of wariness concerning technological progress is, after all, not completely unfounded. The rise of the digital age was not without issues. When Edward Snowden risked his life to expose state secrets about how the NSA was illegally surveilling its own citizens, people were shocked - and rightly so. Cybercrime has continued to increase and even facilitate the flow of criminal acts such as corporate theft, child abuse, human trafficking, etc. Even mobile apps and social media have subjected individuals to discrimination and abuse. All of these phenomena have fed into the public’s increasing sense of paranoia and insecurity about technology, as the dystopian movies mentioned above have aptly shown. In spite of the drawbacks, however, technology holds a lot of potential for the future. There have been just as many, if not more, positive depictions of technology as negative ones on the big screen. Marvel’s Iron Man film series and BBC’s Doctor Who TV show are just a few of many well-known examples that present the positive potential of technology. Even though the setting of Wall-E presents how technology has gone awry, the film still demonstrates the extent to which technology exemplifies human achievements. The humans in Wall-E all live within a spaceship equivalent of a yacht that is self-sufficient and is a habitable home for humans (even though its inhabitants, the humans, have devolved into incapacitated creatures). In fact, the conflicts arising within the film plot are often simply caused by the human abuse of technological power or the lack of caution people have when designing their inventions. Black Mirror episodes are a particularly strong example of this, as they show the audience how people are always behind the horrors that occur due to technological use for invasive, illogical purposes. If arguing about the state of the future seems too full of uncertainty, then look at the present! Not only has new technology helped various fields of research in their search for knowledge, they have also made life easier for humans in general. Crowdsourcing, for example, is a beneficial Internet activity that facilitates the gathering and distribution of creative ideas and mass information. This information sourcing model has been proven as important to raise awareness during times of crises, as illustrated by Facebook’s "Crisis Response" hub. Websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe have also been crucial in helping to raise funds for personal or charitable causes. Even celebrities are now able to help their fans through the use of social media, as demonstrated by Kendrick Lamar providing a disabled fan with a wheelchair and a wheelchair-accessible van. Even professional researchers have taken advantage of crowdsourcing to further their research. Sarah Parcak, an American archaeologist, has used crowdsourcing to assist in her research and enabled ordinary citizens to look for signs of hidden archaeological sites. Another positive benefit brought by technology also includes the use of online media as a source of income. Nowadays, anyone can go on the Internet and earn money from their creative pursuits, which not only includes Youtubers and bloggers, but also authors, digital illustrators, artists, aspiring entrepreneurs, and more. The Internet has enabled a global distribution of information and a level of interconnectivity that allows anyone to learn about anything they want while creating employment opportunities unrestricted by location. Technological innovation has been the driving force of research in medical and astronomical fields, and technology previously used only in one area is now being developed for use in others. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR), for example, both started as the imaginations of the entertainment industry. Their functionality has now spread to assist with breakthroughs in the scientific, medical and educational industry. All of this is not to say that our fear and wariness of the digital era is unreasonable. There will always be risks and uncertainties associated with the future. Nevertheless, we cannot let it hinder our progress. Humans have survived so far in history by continually adapting to the circumstances and improving life for ourselves. Technology has been an enormous help for us in that respect, significantly speeding up academic, economic, social, and political progress to get us to where we are now. However there is still so much to be done, and technology remains an immense source of potential in helping us to overcome the unknown challenges we are bound to face. After all, if Black Mirror taught us anything, it’s that technology itself is not what’s bad; instead, it’s how we use it that matters.

Kelompok Kolektif Lampu-lalu-lintas: Getting to Know the ‘Side-stream’

What is the first thing that pops up in your head when you hear the word ‘aesthetics’? Clean and neat Instagram feeds? Well-designed furniture? Vibrant paintings? Maybe. This is not quite the case though when you talk about all things third world; third-world countries with third-world aesthetics. The aesthetics of ‘third-worldliness’ as proposed by a study conducted by the University of Warwick has been part of a culture that is often neglected by its people, Indonesians especially. A group of three Indonesian teenagers however, known collectively as Kelompok Kolektif Lampu-Lalu Lintas (KKL) has been doing otherwise – they have been actively campaigning the importance of embracing their identity as members of a third-world country through their YouTube channel. Aya (Lampu Merah), Fabi (Lampu Kuning) and Fasya (Lampu Hijau) have always taken interest in their typical daily encounters in Jakarta. This is where third-world aesthetics play a huge role in their content, both in terms of artistic style and their behavioral conduct. Artistically, they believe their kind of aesthetic is highly influenced by the way they accommodate themselves to overcome the inadequacies in Indonesia. Public transport standards that are less sufficient than other leading countries, for instance, drew KKL’s interest as shown in “Sembako: Pengguna Transportasi Publik”. Aya and Fasya showed the audience a series of ‘gears’ packed into a bag consisting of raincoats, tissues and antiseptics to some small change and portable chargers. It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it will surely be comfortable to commute with. An example of a behavior, one related to speech, is the ways Indonesians often abbreviate words to make communication more efficient. This habit is usually introduced by the youth then slowly recognized by those who are older, and is also slowly diverging into a separate culture. Names of places are usually abbreviated, especially malls such as ‘PS’, short for Plaza Senayan, or ‘GI’, short for Grand Indonesia. Verbs can also be shortened. For example, ‘mager’ short for ‘males gerak’ is an Indonesian slang for a person who is too lazy to move. Not only does this make for efficient communication, but KKL also believes that it gives a sense of intellectuality because it responds to the dynamics of Indonesian language. In addition, the Indonesian youth tend to participate in a range of events and concerts that often take place in Jakarta. These events are documented in various social media platforms and often end up being over posted, especially on Snapchat stories. As a result, it urges and pressures people to be present in each of these events, driven by what is called as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This includes the fear of missing out on the momentum of the events, such as related conversations and inside jokes, and that first-hand experience of the event itself. Sometimes, these events could also be brought up in future conversations and those who were not there would feel left out. What KKL suggests when it comes to this is to not always rely on social media to fight boredom and to never look back on the events “I could’ve been to.” Instead, start finding other things that are worth investing more time in.
Note to self: you’re your own muse.
Bye, FOMO.
The experiences told and shown by KKL are only a small part of the reality of the everyday third-world experience. The picture set shows how they take their daily experiences and incorporate them together through artistic forms to give Indonesian youth a sense of belonging and appreciation of the third-worldly aesthetics they can find around them. The youth in third-world countries have a choice whether they want to embrace their ‘third-worldliness’ or not by setting aside today’s socially constructed standards of aesthetic living. One thing that is sure though, this choice will certainly reflect one’s appreciation of beauty in his or her own terms, which is what aesthetics is all about: creating and finding your own version of beauty.