Batik has been a symbol of traditional culture of Indonesia. The process of making batik portraits the cultural values and norms of local people which is worth being appreciated. At the same time, the increase of technology, along with its advancement, unavoidably affect almost all aspects of life, including batik.
The basic way of making the batik design is drawing it straight on the fabric using drawing tool called canting, a small copper tool which is filled by wax and coloring. Then, the faster way of making batik is using copper plates that have been patterned into many batik designs and stamp it on the fabric.
Computer technology makes the creating of batik design more easily. Certain batik designs are inserted into computer program and then the program develop the designs into more varied and creative ones. This way, more ‘pop’ and funkier designs are easy to make. As a result, computerized batik designs are popular among young people. Usually, the designs are either printed or manually drawn onto t-shirts and jackets, the most common wardrobes of the young.
A more developed computerized batik is fractal batik. People might get confused with the term as ‘fractal’ is known only in math and physic. According to dictionary, fractal means “a geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry.” But, when it relates to batik design, fractal batik is defined as “mathematically remodeled traditional batik design.”
Fractal batik was accidentally found by Nancy Margried, Muhamad Lukman, and Yun Hariadi, the owners of design research group named Pixel People Project . They were interested in batik designs and they found that batik designs have scientific attribute, that is mathematical attribute. In 2007, they conducted a research about the relationship between traditional batik designs and mathematics. They found out that batik designs can be remodeled using fractal formula with the help of computer technology.
They created an open source software called Jbatik (J stands for Java, a language programming) which generates batik design by fractal formula. Out of one fractal formula, the software is able to produce more designs by simply changing its parameters. Simple explanation for the process goes like this: take parang rusak design for an example. First, the design is transformed into fractal mathematical formula using L System language. The formula resulted is modified by changing the parameters so that more complex and intricate formulas are generated. The new formulas then will be processed by Jbatik software.
Using the software, the designs of fractal batik are more dramatic, more modern and much more varied which can be measured by the graphic, colors, sizes, angels, and the repetitions. With fractal approach, new designs can be created fast while still maintaining the standard of traditional batik designs, and the designs can be made into three dimensions.
Although the fractal designs are made with the help of science and computer technology, still the drawing of the design on the fabric is either manually or using copper printing stamp. However, even production machine can synchronize with fractal batik design. The design can be drawn on the fabric by using laser as well.
Fractal batik has earned awards locally and internationally. The latter were UNESCO award of excellence 2008, winner of Asia Pacific ICT award 2009, grantee for USAID SENADA business innovation fund 2009, winner of international footwear design competition in Shanghai 2010, and winner of British Council International young creative entrepreneur award 2010. And in 2011, fractal batik became the brand ambassador for Intel Corp.
Despite the appreciation, fractal batik also face some hindrances. Resistance come from people within the batik industry itself. Apparently, the making of batik design using advance technology and science has blurred the originality, history, tradition, and root culture of batik. It is more difficult to dig out the life philosophy from batik design when it has swayed away from the basic traditional design. There is also fear that high tech batik design will replace the traditional batik craftmen in villages. Other obstacle is lack of support from the government for further batik fractal research, therefore, hindering the product development.
Pros and cons towards something new is unavoidable. However, it is conclusive that batik is much more than just culture as it opens door to science, technology, and innovation.
Sources: Antara News, Viva News, Kompas, www.budaya-indonesia.org, fraktal.bandungfe.net