Old Floor Tiles and Nostalgia
Floor is an architecture element which defines space. Floor tile is another floor forming element which gives tactile quality on a floor. This paper discusses floor tiles produced by Tegel Kunci (an antique floor tile brand). We refer to Walter Benjamin’s notion of aura in order to discuss our subject. Benjamin conveyed that people feel the surrounding space not only as a sensory experience, but also a historical experience. History shapes us to perceive something, including place where we are. Benjamin argued that aura was lost since industrialization, which yielded mass (re-)production. We can see Benjamin’s essay as a critique to industrial society, as seen from artistic aspect. At first, during colonial era, Tegel Kunci’s floor tiles were often used at residential place, or inside the keraton (palace) of Yogyakarta. At present, Tegel Kunci’s floor tiles are found at places such as shopping mall and many other commercial area. Tegel Kunci’s floor tiles are considered as “art work”, which conjure the nostalgia of the past. The floor tiles are also considered as something which suggests certain ambience. There is an aura, or supposed “aura,” on the floor tiles; something ‘supranatural’ which comes out of the floor tiles. The aura is also assumed as artisans (tukang) are involved in the production of the tiles.What is exactly the urban society looking for? Is it the aura, the kind which Benjamin considered as gone due to mass production? Why are these antique tiles are considered as “classy” among the urban society? Is it the nostalgia they bring? Whose nostalgia is it? We explore the presence of the aura, if it still exists on a contemporary products of Tegel Kunci.
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