Walking down the streets in Banjarmasin is much like many other cities across the globe, as letters push their way into your eyesight, informing you of street names, food on sales and characteristic of Indonesia, cigarettes being sold. Due to the restrictions placed on imagery allowed on cigarette advertising in Indonesia, (Kharisma Rasa Indonesia, 2007) many rely heavily on eye-catching typography to communicate their message with display fonts and bold colours that scream their masculine ideals of a smoker to their audience (refer to figure 1). The many manifestations of type across Banjarmasin, from the colourful and hastily hand-made signs that adorn street vendors’ carts to the large-format digital prints above stores, type and design exemplify the “ubiquitous consumerism” of Banjarmasin and by extension Indonesia (Crosby, 2016).
Figure 1. San, W, 2018
Moreover, type serves to denote the different purposes of areas in the city, as residential streets feature an archway at their entrances with the street name, each one individual and full of character (refer to figure 2). Elements such as these serve to exemplify the vibrant and chaotic character of Banjarmasin, with pops of colour and the nature of both type and design within the city, contrasting the often sterile and corporate focused design present in other larger, more cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney. In this manner, the expressive and hand-generated nature of type in Banjarmasin reflects the context in which it was made, on the semi-isolated island of Borneo, with both different and more limited resources.
Figure 2. Nguyen, C, 2018
Observing the nature of type in Banjarmasin, it is revealed as acting not only as a means of communication but also informing the relationship between the city and the celebrated river that flows through it. Various examples of type are found along the riverside, primarily with a focus on celebrating Banjarmasin and its unique identity. The way in which type integrates with both the river and the public spaces constructed around it (refer to Figure 3), such as Menara Pendang serve to reflect Sheppard and Lynn’s analysis of cities and how the combination of the artificial and natural elements of a city occur together in a state of “uneasy coexistence” (Sheppard, Lynn, ).
Figure 3. Nguyen, C, 2018
Conclusively, typography in Banjarmasin is a complex mixture of purpose, materiality and character that reflects not only the context of the city but also contributes to the larger discourse between design and public space and identity.
Crosby, A, 2016. Designing Futures in Indonesia, UTS ePress, Vol. 13, No. 2, July 2016. Viewed 1 February 2018, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/portal/article/view/5065
Kharisma Rasa Indonesia 2007, That Charismatic Indonesian Feeling’: Cigarette Billboard advertising in the city of Yogyakarta
Sheppard, E, Lynn, W.S, 2004, Patterned ground: entanglements of nature and culture. Reakton Press, London.
Tariq, Q, 2015, Indonesian veteran artist AD Pirous’ work shines at his first Kuala Lumpur exhibition in 12 years. The Star, viewed 1 February 2018, https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/entertainment/arts/frame-up/2015/03/29/indonesian-veteran-artist-ad-pirous-work-shines-at-his-first-kuala-lumpur-exhibition-in-12-years/
Cover Image: Nguyen, C, 2018