Cities, Like Dreams
Hamzah Al Asadulloh

What is a city anyway? According to renowned urbanist Richard Sennett, it is “a human settlement in which strangers are likely to meet.” What better place than the third most populous city in the fourth most populous country in the world? With a metro population of 8 million, strangers are bound to meet all the time. And yet, experiencing a city like Bandung has evolved dramatically in recent years with the advent of social media, most notably Instagram: the city is experienced through the screen. This is especially true for weekend tourists who consume distorted images of the city via ‘influencers’. So widespread is this new mode of consumption, and so nefarious, it has altered the way people experience the city--making it more dispersed and tangled, mixing the virtual with the real. The name of the game is selfie tourism. Scattered throughout the city (really, the entire country), establishments big and small scramble to find the most effective ways to appeal to these new masses, hungry for a background to pose in front of, or a spread of food to photograph and post, or a cafe to candidly look pensive in. This is selfie tourism. An industry so pernicious with alarming social, political, and ecological implications that no corner of the city is safe from being turned into a glorified selfie background. Image has become reality.

Bio Hamzah Al Asadulloh is a spatial designer based in Bandung, Indonesia. After graduating from the Royal College of Art’s Interior Design program where focused on Interior Urbanism, he has taken interest in cities and the multiplicity of ways we experience them. He co-founded the design collective dll. that explores intersections of architecture and collective opportunities. Other interests include historic preservation, public space, and media futures. From time to time he enjoys collage at Collage City. He is an avid cat lover and casual lamp fan.

Author Hamzah Al Asadulloh
Bandung, Indonesia
Publisher Self-published