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Jonathan McIntosh ~ a different kind of Jakarta landscape




Jonathan McIntosh is an digital-media artist, social justice activist, photographer and Indymeida journalist living in the Boston/Roxbury area. I found these photographs when I was looking for some info about Jakarta. My curiosity was picqued after posting Rarindra Prakarsa's photographs.

Apparently life for children in Jakarta is not all skittles and cream as Rarindra's photographs might have us believe.

I'll have a bit more to write about this in an addendum to this post over the weekend. An in-law from NJ with a car load of kids is due very soon, so I don't have time right now. While they're all out skiing tomorrow I'll write my peace/piece. Feel free to chime in any time.

FYI, I haven't had any contact with Jonathan Roxbury. I downloaded and posted his photographs under a Creative Commons attribution license. See more of his photography from The Garbage Ring - Jakarta Indonesia

FEATURED COMMENT: Jim Jirka wrote: "So in seeing this and Rarindra's images, would you then consider the former to be "ecoporn" of a different type?"

publisher's response: Jim, my first response is somewhere between rage/anger and the calm cool collectedness it will take to write a 10,000 word response. I am going to try to contact Rarindra again and get a fix on his "intent" although I'm not certain how much that really matters.

FEATURED COMMENT: Joel Truckenbrod wrote: "It's clear that our concept of "poverty" in the U.S. exists in another realm from what these people experience everyday. I am humbled and am not quite sure what else to say."

publisher's response: I am humbled as well - and angered (not at Jim J.) at a world that allows this to exist) and I am also struggling with "what to say". It seems somehow....well....not "wrong", but not "right" either to natter and blather about notions and ideas regarding the medium of photography.

To speak to Joel's reaction of not knowing what to say, I find it nearly impossible to view McIntosh's photographs as photographs in any of the ways in which photographers often view photographs - these photographs do not seem to have "composition", "quality of light", or any of the other photographic trappings we commonly employ. Both the referent (the object of the camera's gaze) and the connoted are so powerful that any "things-photographic" thoughts are simply obliterated.

As Mary Dennis opined, "...The power of imagery is truly awesome, is it not?

Ott Luuk's comments (not too harsh at all) spoke to Jim Jirka's question of truth vs beauty. Ott stated/asked, "My guess is that Rarindra`s photography is just a form of escapism, knowingly creating a blissful dreamworld to hang on the wall for those times you really don`t want to look out of the window....should I be scorned about growing a nice garden with roses and stuff around my house when my country`s forests are being cut down for quick profit...?

I would asnwer that question by stating that it's all very much a matter of intent. If, along with some roses, you also planted your head in the dirt - ostrich-and-sand-wise, I'd say that, yes, you should be scorned. Is that what Rarindra is doing? I don't know for certain, but, in the absence of any statement of intent otherwise....

Rarindra has a very broad presence on the www. I can find nothing about his intent other than his statement to me - "You should visit my beautiful country someday.", which is usually accompanied by a statement about the "millions" of beautiful places and "objects" available to be photographed. He seems to love and take great pride in his country.

Sure. OK. Fine. But, if Rarindra had offered even just a hint that his fanciful photographs spoke to the "innocence lost" in the face of the horrid human degradation that exists in his beloved country, I might not be inclined to venture that Rarindra's photographs are a very fine example of fiddling while Rome burns.

Or, to put it an American context, how would you feel about idyllic and fanciful photographs of black children frolicking carefree in Elysian Fields as representative of our "beautiful" country?
Posted on Friday, January 12, 2007 at 05:03PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments8 Comments | References4 References

References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
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    NFL is seriously a single of the most significant sports in America. It has a key following.
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    Response: pest control
    Photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because, what is true most often is beautiful. - My Blogspot Archives on SquareSpace - Jonathan McIntosh ~ a different kind of Jakarta landscape
  • Response
    Photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because, what is true most often is beautiful. - My Blogspot Archives on SquareSpace - Jonathan McIntosh ~ a different kind of Jakarta landscape
  • Response
    Photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because, what is true most often is beautiful. - My Blogspot Archives on SquareSpace - Jonathan McIntosh ~ a different kind of Jakarta landscape

Reader Comments (8)

So in seeing this and Rarindra's images, would you then consider the former of "ecoporn" of a different type. Especially on the order of the beauty and not the real?
January 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jirka
Mark,
I hope it is not rage and anger with me? I was just trying to relate the beauty to the real.

My name is Jirka.
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jirka
It's clear that our concept of "poverty" in the U.S. exists in another realm from what these people experience everyday. I am humbled and am not quite sure what else to say.
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Truckenbrod
Fascinating indeed, the complete polar extremes of subject matter from these two photographers from the same place. Somehow I get the feeling that Rarindra is looking at his world through a different filter, seeing it completely differently than what Jonathon McIntosh has seen and photographerd. It feels like there is a huge crevasse between social class here that is laid bare for us to ponder while perusing the portfolios of these two photographers. I can't say that one view is more legitimate or honest than another though, to be honest. Do they both exist? It would seem so...unless a great deal of trickery is going on with the images. If both worlds do exist in Jakarta, then what a HUGE divide that must be. That makes me uneasy.
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermary dennis
My guess is that Rarindra`s photography is just a form of escapism, knowingly creating a blissful dreamworld to hang on the wall for those times you really don`t want to look out of the window.

I don`t see anything bad in that as long as one`s not trying to pass it as reality. For me, the aesthetics of Rarindra`s photos look as if they`ve beem borrowed from a cover of a fairy-tale book. For mistaking them for real - does everyone who takes photos in the Far East really have to fight the ignorance of the western man?

For another example - should I be scorned about growing a nice garden with roses and stuff around my house when my country`s forests are being cut down for quick profit? Should I really litter my personal space with mud and tree stumps to raise awareness amongst my neighbours? Maybe some guy from rich country X will see my garden and think that our country is covered in blooming rose bushes? Oh the humanity...
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterott luuk
Sorry if my comment above is a bit harsh. I don`t even like roses that much...
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterott luuk
The more I think about the huge dichotomy between these two bodies of work the more I think it's essential to have a fuller understanding of Rarindra's artistic intent. As I read a little further it would appear that the class struggle (and all it's branching ramifications) in Jakarta, and Indonesia itself, is a massive battle. I plead guilty to being an american idiot regarding the history, ancient and recent, of Indonesia and in that ignorance I am pliable. The power of imagery is truly awesome, is it not?
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermary dennis
Stephen Dirado
www.stephendirado.com/
and I were emailing about Rarinda's images and he suggested that I look at the Hudson River School of painters. They were using the same luminism and romanticism of nature as Rarindra.
www.artchive.com/artchive/hudsonriver.html
Click on some of the painters listed on the side of the article.
January 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBillie

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