Jakarta to learn digital archiving

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Japan is offering to help Indonesia learn about digitally archiving its cultural heritage, as the Southeast Asian country is lagging behind its neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia, according to a prominent researcher in the heritage conservation field.

“Malaysia is now spending more money and effort on these things [digital archiving projects]. While Indonesia, I think, is just started,” said Kyoto University professor Ari Ide-Ektessabi on the sidelines of a seminar on Wednesday that was held by the Japanese Embassy as part of a series of events to commemorate 60 years of Japanese-Indonesian diplomatic relations.

Ide-Ektessabi has been involved in researching and developing imaging technology and digital archive projects in Japan and many other countries, including the digitization of the gold mask of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamun. He said to digitally archive its cultural artifacts, Indonesia should work with other countries, especially with Japan, which has experience in the area.

“Japan has the technology, funding and people who appreciate the value of cultural objects and we want to help Indonesia to preserve theirs,” he said.

In the seminar, he also demonstrated the process of archiving several cultural objects, such as paintings, ceramics and woven fabrics, using a digital scanner.

Ide-Ektessabi, who had developed the custom-made scanner that has ultra-high resolution of 1,200 dots per inch (DPI), said digitization would make copies of the objects available and accessible for years to come.

Currently, Indonesia is still pioneering its own integrated database, said Hilmar Farid, the Culture and Education Ministry’s director-general of culture. He said such a database was mandated by a law on cultural advancement passed on April 27 last year.

“We should take input from more experienced countries because it is rather hard to imagine getting a complete database immediately, but it has to be developed along the way as we take input from others,” he said in his opening remarks at the seminar.

He said the data and information collection process had begun this year and would be used as a starting point for a cultural congress planned to be held in Bali in November.

“Hopefully this year we can start to work with the material we already have,” he said.

University of Indonesia (UI) historian Susanto Zuhdi said Indonesian people still had low awareness of the need to protect and preserve cultural objects because they had yet to see them as “economic assets”.

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