Media, Communication, Digitalization
Bali excited Western imagination after illustrations and texts reported the West’s earliest encounters in the 16th Century. That it was a domain recognising kings seemed familiar; that it had strange and frightening customs was not. Bali's image received another twist from Raffles' History of Java (1817), which projected the Balinese as heirs of a Hindu heritage that once flourished in Java. The Dutch invasion (1906-1908) and the colonization of Southern Bali unleashed a brutality that the occupier tried to mitigate through economic reconstruction, ushering in tourism, as Bali was not suitable for mines or plantations. Krause's Bali (1920) created a slightly lurid but tourist-friendly image of the island's culture. The colonial authorities later adopted the image of the dancer as emblematic of Bali, and, as tourism developed in the New Order era, they further burnished Bali's image as a beautiful, exotic and culturally rich island. Film and photography also played key roles in creating Bali's image from the time of the artist Walter Spies (1920-30s) until the 21st century. 2010 saw the production of Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts as the newly divorced Elizabeth Gilbert who embarks on a quest for self-discovery, finding food in Italy, prayer in India, and finally love in Bali. This dramatization of the island of love, while at odds with reality, is only the most recent insertion of Bali into its ever more globalized mediascape, and the reinforcement of longstanding and often conflicting images for a pervasive tourist gaze and its far-reaching influences.