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.