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Preserving Batik Art in Indonesia

Did you know batik, an Indonesian method of decorating fabrics practiced for centuries, was becoming a dying art? But now batik is being preserved and enhanced for future generations thanks to Intel-enabled mathematical software that is allowing a wider population of artisans to create their own designs.

New technology for ancient art

Indonesian Batik artist Nancy Margried draws inspiration from the natural beauty and ancient architecture of her homeland. But unlike traditional batik artists, who draw their designs by hand before applying them to the surface of cloth using melted wax, Margried creates batik designs using 3D modeling software before they are transferred onto fabric using the same wax technique.

“When I see the design of the Taman Sari Water Castle in Jogja it really inspires my creations,” Margried says. “But this is a completely new approach to Indonesia’s traditional art. We bring new meaning that is scientific and technology related.”

Her company, Batik Fractal, produces the software for creating batik and markets a variety of batik products in order to help rekindle interest in, and awareness of, a traditional form of artistic expression, as well as derives economic benefits from its use.

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The mathematical software allows users to create geometric fractal diagrams that become intricate batik patterns. Batik Fractal sells the Intel-enabled software to local artisans and others, who can then create their own new batik designs rather than relying on traditional patterns—thus expanding the diversity of designs and broadening access to implementing them effectively. By allowing more aspiring designers to create their own batik, the company is helping to preserve this ancient art form through technology.

The company has even used its software to create a high school curriculum in hopes of educating students in technology while at the same time exposing them to traditional batik. "The design skills that they acquire through the batik curriculum can then be applied through internship programs at batik artisans’ workshops,” Margried says.

So far, the company has sold 700 licenses, mostly to traditional batik artisans in rural areas of Indonesia, according to Margried. Intel chose Batik Fractal as its “ambassador” in Indonesia as part of a marketing campaign that includes a video widely circulated on the Internet. “The global exposure has leveraged our business and our status in terms of credibility and increasing sales,” she explains. “But in a deeper sense Batik Fractal’s relationship with Intel has validated our work in bridging the gap between traditional and modern, manual and digital, older and younger generations.”

Nancy Margried

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computer with a fractal design on screen

Software from Intel

The intricate batik patterns start out as computer-generated geometric fractals. Margried and her team create the designs using Intel-enabled mathematical software.

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Batik cloth with hands

Clothing Creations

Batik Fractal’s software can be used to create wallpaper and fabric. The company hopes, among other things, to revive the batik industry in Indonesia.