PEACE PREVAILS

May peace prevails upon all beings on the earth and beyond. You may scroll down to browse the contents of this blog.

Friday, 30 December 2011

PEKEBUN YANG DAH KEMBALI

Allahyarham Che' Zulkarnain

Pagi semalam saya bersarapan di Kota Kinabalu (KK), petangnya saya dakap isteri dan anak-anak di Gelugor, Pulau Pinang. Tiga hari lepas saya datang ke KK, semalam saya kembali. Kita semua datang, lalu dan kembali.

Tiga hari lepas, saya ziarah kebun yang pernah saya rintis di Jabatan Seni Visual, Sekolah Pengajian Seni, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). Selain dari Fakulti Seni Gunaan & Kreatif, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), UMS juga ada tempat yang istimewa dalam hati saya. Antaranya ialah Che' Zulkarnain. Saya terkenangkan dia. Dia datang ke UMS, lalu dan dah kembali, buat selama-lamanya.

Che' Zulkarnain ialah antara pekebun awal yang membuka tapak ilmu Seni Visual di Sekolah Pengajian Seni, UMS. Bersama saya dan Fuad Bebit sekitar 2004 dulu, tiga hari dua malam kami bertandang di rumah Fuad dan di UMS, memerah otak untuk merangka program Seni Visual di UMS. Kerja merangka program dan membuat kurikulum ni usah cerita la, lebih letih dari mendaki gunung Kinabalu. Kalau nak cerita, nanti naik ekor merak saya pulak.

Sebelum bertandang, saya dan Fuad dah buat sedikit background research. Fuad yang jemput saya bertandang, mungkin untuk perah dan kerah pengalaman 8 tahun saya berkebun di Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) dan Center for Advanced Design KL (Cenfad). Waktu tu, saya dah pun berhijrah ke USM, untuk buka kebun 'media baru' di Pusat Pengajian Seni. "Kerja buka kebun baru ni dah jadi 'sumpah' untuk aku kot," gitulah saya fikir, sebelum disentap oleh khutbah dan leteran Bonda saya tentang 'berkhidmat untuk masyarakat'. Walaupun ego saya suka bertekak, dengan Bonda, saya lebih suka buat lawak bodoh je.

Dah 6 tahun Che' Zulkarnain meninggalkan saya, Fuad dan rakan-rakan buat selama-lamanya. Ziarah yang terbaru ni, saya nampak nama Che' Zulkarnain terpampang dan diabadikan pada sebuah makmal komputer. Ingatan pada dia jadi semakin kuat. Sekali-sekala, terasa dia masih 'ada'. Terasa rindu pula. Sedih tentulah ada, tapi dibasuh oleh rasa syukur bila melihat denai dan tapak awal yang dirintis kini telah tumbuh subur menjadi sebuah program yang telah melahirkan enam kumpulan graduan sarjana muda Seni Visual (tak termasuk yang melanjutkan pelajaran ke peringkat sarjana dan Phd).

Tentulah saya sendiri rasa bangga dan kembang semacam. Tapi belum sempat nak pasang takbur tuntut kredit dunia, teringat pula metafora pekebun yang datang dan kembali. Kita semua datang, lalu dan kemudian akan kembali. Lebih baik isikan 'laluan' dengan kasih-sayang daripada tanam takbur. Lagipun semuanya kita pinjam je. Tak payahlah lebih-lebih sangat tuntut kredit.

Bila teringatkan Che' Zulkarnain, terfikir pula bahawa segala benih dari kasih akan terus subur dalam kitaran fitrah mimpi 'benda' (dunia jasad). Masa dia meninggal, saya pun tak tahu, sebab waktu tu terputus sekejap perhubungan dengan UMS. Tapi saya masih teringat dia sibuk minta bahan power-point kuliah seni elektronik saya sebagai rujukan mengajar. Waktu tu saya ziarah untuk bentang kertas-kerja. Che' Zulkarnain ni orangnya baik, sopan, lemah-lembut dan cool. Dia merupakan antara pengkarya awal yang menghasil dan mempamerkan karya instalasi berasaskan cahaya elektronik. Selain dari perupa seni visual serba-boleh, dia juga handal menari.

Benih kasih yang Che' Zulkarnain tanam, kini dah tumbuh segar dan berbuah di UMS. Saya tumpang syukur.  Hadiah paling rock dari anak, anak murid dan sahabat, adalah kasih sayang dan doa. Itu jugalah yang saya selalu pesan pada anak-anak murid.

Rasanya dah 4 kali saya ziarah UMS, dijemput oleh Fuad untuk jenguk hasil kebun (menilai hasil projek para pelajar Seni Visual tahun akhir). Setiap kali ziarah, saya teringat Che' Zulkarnain. Marilah kita hadiahkan doa dan Al-Fatihah buat sahabat pekebun saya, Che' Zulkarnain.


Monday, 26 December 2011

BEYOND THAT RIDDLES CALLED KEY TANGIBLE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

Ok, we at MGTF (Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah) USM can provide our stakeholders (rakyat Malaysia) with all the KPIs, fancy statistics, numbers, grafts and charts that document all our tangible achievements. Ya...ya, they are termed as 'strategic information', and now perhaps can be accessed in this particular center in USM with a name too long, I can't remember. The so-called 'strategic information' can also be accessed in our reports. 

On the other hand, what we cherish more are those intangible values that we have managed to vibrate and share with all of you (our visitors). These intangible vibes are beyond KPIs, they were meant to be experienced (alami). 

The following photos are poor (but reasonable) replications of such 'alami'. We have been gaining myriads of 'renewable' energies from our visitors especially kids. Visitors are our superstars, our VIPS, our life and bloodline (not just 'statistics or numbers). Of course we like to brag about our 'collections' too, but the collections meant nothing without our visitors to witness them.

Investing in the intangible (we like to refer to it as 'light') doesn't require 'money' and large 'budget'. What is needed is sincere love in sharing our shared heritage and humanity. I (and my team at MGTF USM) humbly present these pictures to all of you out there, our beloved visitors (and potential visitors) for all the beautiful 'alami' .....Let us return (transform back or 'hijrah') to our true nature (fitrah) together.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

THE CREATIVE FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE SPEAKS THROUGH YOU MY DEAR DR. CHONG.

Dr. Chong (3 from front right), in his true element (child-like), holding the soap bubble magic stick, with MGTF staffs and I, enjoying our time


The word enthusiasm means 'in god'. Being enthusiastic means losing oneself in the joy of present moment, in the 'now', in whatever goodness of what one is doing, in short, 'in god'. Very spiritual indeed.

The word also best describes one special person that I have been blessed to know, Dr. Chong Hon Yew. 

Dr. Chong has been like a fatherly figure in my life at the Muzium and Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF) Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for the past 6 years. He has been dedicating his vast and deep knowledge, his experience, his brilliance, creativity and his expertise to running so many astronomy workshops and activities at MGTF. We have been to many places, many communities within and outside Penang so many times, I lost count already. We have traveled together to Langkawi, Perak, Terengganu, Melaka, even Sarawak. We had even assisted a primary school in Kuala kangsar to conceptualize, design, install, renovate and upgrade an old school building into a science gallery (called Galeri Sains Sentral). The project took us a year to complete! And Dr. Chong was there by our side.

Every time Dr. Chong ran all the activities, I could see the eyes of all those young people/visitors/ communities brighten up. They were sucked into the enthusiasm. They were enveloped into the experience of being in the 'now'.

His non-stop energy and undivided love for astronomy are so infectious. He has been inspiring us to enjoy and make science (especially through astronomy) become a lively and creative part of us. He has been inspiring so many MGTF visitors and so many communities (that we had visited together) to love the sciences with his jovial character and child-like enthusiasm. MGTF also has been complimenting his science-centered brain with our own brand of engaging, interactive and inclusive art. As Dr. Chong explains the physic of light, we allow our visitors or visited communities to enjoy playing with many different colors of batik through janting or tye and dye.

Now with our own Sustainable Cosmodome (180 degree screening of video inside an enclosed dome, in which there are only 2 in this country), we have even 'gardened' more minds together. 

Dr. Chong has been my complimentary pair, a precious partnership of the arts and sciences. Dr. Chong has helped me and all my fellow 'gardeners' at MGTF to define MGTF USM.

Dr.Chong is also a people-person, complimentary to my training as a so-called fine artist who is normally reclusive. Admittedly, I was used to perceive myself as an 'independent' or isolated creative genius, with a highly personal magic, special, higher or fine or separated from the rest of the society. What an illusion. With MGTF, its visitors and community programs, and of course Dr. Chong, all those toxic sentiments that have inflicted me (or 'veiled' me) have been washed away. Some residue still lingers though. Anyway, I had learnt to get rid of all those 'artist' posturing, putting aside the 'visual artist' in me, and just BE (naturally, in flux).

(Just to note that few community-oriented creative projects that I've come to know about, seemed to highlight the 'artists' rather than the 'experiences' or the 'voices' of the participating members of the community, or the joy and enthusiasm (spirit) within the project. But there are many obscured creative community projects out there that are very inspiring and reflect similar collective enthusiasm. These projects and people behind them have been my source of inspiration.)

When Dr. Chong is in his element, he is like a little kid (who are less opaque and more transparent than most of us adults). His spirit soars together with his audience (mostly kids or young people). Even I felt like a kid around him. Check out the many fb albums of MGTF (related to astronomy activities) if you don't believe me.

Dr. Chong has even inspired me to embrace science and scientific means to enjoy my physical experiences even more. In fact, I had produced a video art dedicated to him, based on a combination of images of stars, galaxies, nebula, etc with the paintings of Syed Ahmad Jamal. 

Ironic it may sound, Dr. Chong (being a typical scientist perhaps) didn't see himself as a spiritual person. I respect his stance when it comes to spirituality. No point of arguing if just to boast ego. But ironically, I always get spiritually 'high' whenever I join his activities or witness him in action. In fact, I always felt as if the creative force of the universe is speaking through him, to humble me with all the dry scientific 'facts' that can turn my ego into 'dust'. Try compare the scale of the earth with just our Milky Way galaxy alone, not to mention thousands of other galaxies. 

Funny though, sometimes I didn't receive similar vibe with few individuals (luckily few) who like to display pious posturings. Some seem to keep on lamenting, judging, focusing on finding faults, passing punitive remarks if not punishing, at times cursing if not abusing others who don't conform to what they assume as their 'moral standard'. I guess encountering such characters reflects my own mental and emotional state. If that is to be one of my paths and 'rezeki', I submit.

Dr. Chong's presence, including his ever-changing entourage of astronomy enthusiasts (mostly his students from the Physic Department in USM), has been a blessing for my life at MGTF USM. Fatini is one of his young apprentice so-to-speak. 

I wish I could spend more time with him to poke his genius mind about quantum physics and other scientific matters. My administrative duties have been denying me from doing that, but it would probably be a different story after I had managed to free myself from such duties next year.

Looking at the stars, galaxies, etc at night has for many times shrunk my ego into dust. I lost my opaque self, became a 'witness' to greatness, dissolved into everything. It has also helped to allow all the creative energy to rush into and through me.  

Thank you Dr. Chong.

The following fb album displays fragments of what Dr. Chong has been doing with MGTF and so many kids, young people and communities for the past 6 years.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.194066117303874.44005.100001014620306&type=1

For the Galeri Sains Sentral school and community project, click
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.150939281616558.27779.100001014620306&type=1

 

Friday, 23 December 2011

REFLECTIONS OF GEORGE TOWN THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUNG PEOPLE

Like a proud father, I am glowing with pride whenever I encounter raw and sincere expressions from students' assignments. What can I say, I'm a freaky romantic. 

Here are several samples. I refer to them as 'reflections of George Town' through the eyes of first year design students, USM. The sketches, notes and composite pictures were done during and after their field trips to several locations in the heritage enclave of George Town. But they are more that meet the eyes. Before we go further down, enjoy the works first.




























The assignment, can be taken as cultural studies in action, especially in regards to language, culture and identity. Cultural identity here is held to be social and discursive construction (how people participate and communicate their cultural experiences). 

Through the assignment, the focus is shifted from study of cultural text to exploration of audience. Audience in this case, refers to the students or young people, specifically their voices, or how they employ language (both written and visual) to engage in a discourse about a particular cultural text. Cultural text, in the context of this assignment, is 'the heritage city of George Town.' 

Similar method was employed by an Iranian-born contemporary artist-friend of mine, Shahram Entakhbi (currently based in Germany) when he worked with Joe Sidek and I for a project about the city of George Town, called "I AM". Refer to http://issuu.com/mgtfusm/docs/you_are_who_you_are..i_am_who_i_am..

The assignment has allowed the voices of the students to be heard. As their voices are heard, meanings attached to the city of George Town, as well as its' many identities, are not totally fixed anymore. 

In comparison to the assignment is a prescriptive and didactic method of forming meanings about self and cultural heritage. I didn't employ such method for this assignment. Anyway, the idea of prescribing cultural heritage and identity through certain rigid 'technical specification' of 'heritage objects' is taken as a way of regulating and stabilizing the language of cultural heritage into pragmatic narratives or discourses. In the case of George Town, one example of such pragmatism is to attain a UNESCO heritage city status (which it already had). 

UNESCO's language has become the 'meta-discourse' of cultural heritage for George Town. Nothing wrong with this. But it may also lead to a very rigidly objective, prescriptive, didactic, and static (dead) notions of cultural heritage, rather than encouraging more interpretative, subjective and creative approaches towards self, subjectivity and 'cultural heritage'. 

How can Georgetown become a 'creative city' within the grip of such prescriptive discourse? Ironically, such discourse may oppose the spirit of preservation itself, unless we are talking about preserving or replicating 'dead corpse', if not sentiment towards the lingering colonial legacy. 

What about the discourses of the common folks (especially those living and working in the heritage enclave)? What about the discourses of the common people (including young people, professional migrants, writers, artists, designers and other creative individuals, even tourists) who come and go, who encounter George Town in a more transient manner? Can their discourses be included in forming the meanings and cultural identities of George Town? Can their discourses be be taken into consideration? Or should their voices be marginalized? 

The assignment in a way, argues that the notions of cultural heritage are more than just 'static objects', fixed by rigid technical specifications. Mentally (and emotionally), the notions of cultural heritage are more fluid, relational, perhaps unstable at times. They are formed within what is referred to as 'language games'.   

The shift in approaching this assignment, if taken from cultural studies perspective, signals a change from 'structuralist' (can be read as 'colonial' too, if one fancied) to 'post-structuralist' methods (can be read as 'post-colonial' too). 

Hopefully, George Town is not trapped by the lingering colonial legacy. It would be inclusive (and pertinent too) to document the 'on-going' process of how the common people (like the students)) react, interpret, signify and give meanings to George Town according to their own terms (or modalities, to use a 'clever-clever' people term).

Cultural identities here are argued as products of signifying practices. To unveil George Town as a zone of multiple identities is to explore how meanings attached to it are produced symbolically through diverse signifying practices of language and representation (in this case, sketches and personal reflections of the students). 

Identities are produced by active human agents (not just UNESCO and bunch of so-called 'heritage experts'). In the case of this assignment, the active human agents are the young people (students). The many notions of cultural identities are taken as a state of becoming rather than a fixed entity (by UNESCO or groups of 'experts' perhaps). Culture and identity are zones of shifting boundaries and continuing hybridization. Cultural heritage and identity are social, political and malleable construct. 

Consequently, cultural studies now entail a process of 'listening to people' as active interpreters of texts (including visual texts, such as George Town). Through this assignment, the students have become a part of the creative interpretors and constructors of cultural identities.

The assignment is a 'reflective project' where many subjective notions of self and cultural heritage, both personal and collective, are narrated by the students. As indicated by the students' works (can be referred to as 'findings'), the many notions of self and cultural identities are not totally fixed and frozen. They are rather 'performed' and always in a constant state of 'becoming'. 

The assignment is a micro form of 'participative social construction', perhaps with a bit of 'textual deconstruction' where the students had 'personalized' their encounters with George Town (their 'text'). 

The assignment is a small and brief slice that reflect a 'living experience' of 'cross-cultural' identities in George Town. Upon closer look, they are perhaps different than some other more prevailing discourses of cultural heritage (be them UNESCO, heritage NGOs, heritage pamphlets, touristic postcards, tourism magazines etc). 





INTERFACES - MAYA, VIRTUAL (OR FANA), REVISITED.

A face is merely a shadow that lingers as a reflection of one's finite gaze. As it interfaces with others, they  create ripples that tease one's desire for permanency.

Satu wajah hanyalah riak-riak bayang kepada refleksi pandangan mata yang terhad. Apabila ia bersemuka dengan yang lain, semuanya menghasilkan kocak yang mengusik keinginan kita terhadap sesuatu yang kekal.


These are pictures or faces of individuals that don't really exist (at least not physically).  They look real, but they are not. Or are they (more real) than what our eyes or finite perception (and our minds) like to make us assume?

They were actually digitally created from an amalgamation (or combination) of many different physical attributes from several individuals in four groups of students. The students are from the first year design department of the School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). 

The 'virtual' individuals above are a part of their course assignments for "Cross-cultural Design", a course that I've been running for I think, 7 years already (7 batches of students). 

For this assignment, students are encouraged to think about the impact of new media and online technology in their daily life experiences, especially in forming their personal and collective 'identity'. 

The assignment was designed to make students aware of how online and media technology has permeated into their life and how such infusion has contributed towards cross-cultural exchanges and hybrid identities. 

Each student was asked to take a digital photo of his/her portrait (thus converting their 'physical' attributes into 'virtual' attributes).

The conversion is an apt metaphor for a shift in perceiving 'identity' as a physical form, to perceiving identity as 'information' or a state of mind and emotion. 

A physical form (including a physical notion of cultural self) features the following traits:
Isolate/separated,
Independent,
tangible,
frozen,
permanent,
static.

In short, a physical state is a lower form of energy or light.

A state of mind and emotion (including a virtual notion of cultural self) features the following traits :
Interconnected,
interdependent,
intangible, 
fluid, 
transient, 
impermanent, 
ephemeral, 
fluctuating.

In short, a state of mind and emotion, is a higher form of energy or light. 

After the conversion from physical to virtual, or from form to 'information', the students were asked to combine all the different physical attributes of the group members into one cohesive character (face).
The notion of cultural self and identity here is taken as a fluid state of 'becoming' and 'being' rather than a static or permanent 'object'. Identity is 'performed', if not transient.

Culture and cultural heritage too, is not taken only as a 'form of object' anymore (as often subscribed by a certain quarters of heritage 'police' here in Malaysia). 

Self and culture, through this reading, are not permanent entities. It would be unnatural (anti fitrah) to do so. Cycle of change is a natural and sustainable part of every living beings (and things) including what is taken as 'cultural heritage'.

Objectification of self and culture (including cultural heritage) is only a form of pragmatic language and discourse, regulated  for many purposes (including many ends of course, such as political, economic, social, etc). 

Therefore, the notion of self, identity and culture is a field of contestation (ideological contest). Those with better means of dominating and controlling language and discourse (the way we create a consensual meaning about who we are), will be able to create what is referred to as 'meta-discourse'. Simply speaking, a meta-discourse is the 'yardstick' that which we (or a particular community or society) utilize language and engage in discourse (the way we communicate and express ourselves, including in other visual and aural forms, not only writing and speaking). Meta-discourse creates meanings about who we are (culturally, politically, economically, socially, and even spiritually too).

As we engage more intensely with higher energy (light, which literally relates to the way fiber optics and wifi technology carry information) via interactive and digital forms of social networks, sms, chats, etc, how will we form our own personal notion of who we are, not physically, but mentally and emotionally?

Who we are as an individual, as well as a society, mentally and emotionally? 

On the level of mind(information, higher energy, higher light), are we still distinctively different from all the people that we have interacted (interfaced) with?


A student that doesn't exist (physically at least)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

"MAYA' REVISITED....FOLLOW UP OF "MEDAN MINDA", IN HONOR OF JUMAAT.

Today is Friday. 

Yesterday I finally uttered a form of energy that has been lingering or dwelling within, in a form of written intention. It has to do with revisiting the concept of 'Maya'. 

This morning, I received an fb link from Kak Pah (again). Here's the link.

http://lonelymusafir.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/sufism-and-quantum-physics-by-ibrahim-b-syed/

Have a good Friday.

Monday, 19 December 2011

ENTRAPMENT

"Entrapment" 
metal dagger (keris) & bamboo fish trap, 
2011. 
Exhibited in UNCAGED, Wei Ling Gallery, The Garden, July 2011. 
Curated by Rachel Jenagaratnam.

True 'self' is the 'witness' beyond form, beyond identification, beyond ego, beyond any form of entrapment.
 
 
 
 
 

SEMUA KOTA ADALAH JANTAN

Nur Hanim Khairuddin's inter-textual documentation of "Peta Jiwa", with Kak Pah's 'door' partially revealed and the Petronas Twin Tower framed by a glass wall in the background.





"Semua kota adalah jantan, 
bertanding onak mencacak. 
Siapa punya yang paling panjang tegak, 
menoda langit sakit, 
dengan megah jantan, 
untuk dinobat sebagai, 
KEMAJUAN"
(Kocak di Fukuoka)

MEDAN MINDA DAN TALIANNYA

Semalam saya dapat link nota fb dari Kak Pah (Dato' Sharifah Fatimah Zubir), pelukis otai dan kakak dalam dunia seni saya. Kak Pah ni rajin hantar link pada saya. Harapnya boleh menjadikan pengalaman atas talian (online) ini lebih berpaksi. Seperti biasa, bila saya sedang berkonflik dalam usaha menyelak hijab, saya didatangi link sebegini. Agaknya Bonda saya selalu berdoa untuk anak dia yang brutal ni. Link ni kena pada masanya, terutama sebelum berkarya, termasuklah sekarang ni tengah sibuk nak mevisualkan kisah 'Ibu Pertiwi'. 

Kak Pah pula memang mengamalkan apa yang orang media, bahasa dan komunikasi sebut sebagai 'transmediation' (silalah goggle sendiri maksudnya). Terima kasih Kak Pah.

Yang terbaru Kak Pah beri saya link untuk nota fb tulisan Imam Madaina B. Pramudityo tentang Nur Muhammad yang antara lain mengulas tentang konsep cahaya. Saya tak kenal Imam ni, tapi saya baca tulisan dia. Susah nak faham.

Baca tulisan mahupun buku selalunya kena disusul dialog dengan guru yang dipercayai, kalau tidak nanti minda bertemankan tenaga hitam 'darth vader' la pulak. Kalau tak pun kena disparring kan hujahnya dengan rakan-rakan yang berilmu. Inipun ayahanda saya yang selalu pesan. Dia risau saya hanyut jauh sangat dalam berhelai-helai mukasurat buku. Dia pun dah faham sangat ego dan bara hati saya yang masih sebesar stadium Bukit Jalil ni.  

Buku (dan membaca buku) selalunya diletakkan sebagai makam ilmu. Tapi saya selalu diingatkan bahawa lebih afdal berguru secara langsung dengan guru yang mursyid, bukan hanya dari buku, atau lebih parah lagi, dari jin dan yang sehati berdansa dengannya.   

Bila sebut 'cahaya', saya terkenang arwah Dato' Syed Ahmad Jamal. Beberapa hari sebelum dia meninggal, dia ada telefon saya untuk buat satu perbincangan (dan mungkin juga projek pameran) berkaitan dengan 'cahaya atas cahaya' atau 'light upon light'.  Ini semua penangan kesudian dia datang jauh dari KL ke Pulau Pinang untuk buka rasmi pameran solo saya, yang bertitik tolak dari hal yang sama - cahaya. Saya tak berapa faham apa yang dia bebelkan dalam perbualan telefon kerana waktu tu, suara dia bunyinya lain macam. Tak lama lepas tu, dia meninggal. Dato' Syed sudah kembali kepada Cahaya Hakiki.

Salah seorang dari rakan fb, Halim Akib mengingatkan bahawa "adalah sukar untuk memafami konsep Nur Mohammad bagi orang biasa kerana ini adalah pandangan tasauf dalam kasyaf mereka yang terlalu halus yang tergambar dalam fahaman mereka masing-masing yang mereka sebut dalam berbagai istilah. Secara rengkas boleh disimpulkan ia adalah tajalli awal Allah yang mana segala kejadian bermula. Dia bukanlah makluk yang dijadikan tapi adalah pancaran dari Allah sendiri sebagai sumber segala kejadian." Sebagai orang biasa, saya boleh faham kenapa dia pesan begini.

Apabila kita berbicara tentang sesuatu yang sangat halus dan tinggi termasuk hal-hal spiritual, mau tak mau kita perlu berdepan dengan 'bahasa'. Bila sebut bahasa, kita masih terperangkap dalam konsep minda (mental concept), Konsep minda hanya boleh berfungsi dalam dualiti (perbandingan, contohnya kalau nak faham manis, kena faham pahit). Segala bentuk teks dalam bahasa (yang ditutur atau ditulis) hanya dapat membina makna menerusi perbandingan antara teks (interteks).  Ni dah bunyi khutbah akademik la pulak. Sorry ya.

Pelbagai dapatan dan teori tentang bahasa atau persoalan lingusitik ni banyak didebatkan dalam Kajian Budaya. Bahasa yang diaksikan (performed) atau diwacanakan (diberikan sistem, ditutur, didialog) membina makna bagi penuturnya. Penutur secara kolektif merujuk kepada sesebuah masyarakat dalam sesuatu masa dan lokasi. 

Contohnya, Bahasa Melayu ada penuturnya, dan ada banyak cara menuturnya (bergantung pada kumpulan masyarakat dalam masa dan lokasi yang berbeza). Setiap satunya tak semesti membina makna yang sama tentang pelbagai aspek kehidupan, termasuk pengalaman kerohanian. 

Malah dalam pelbagai kumpulan fb sendiri, ada banyak 'wacana' yang berbeza, bergantung pada cara bahasa ditulis. Setiap kumpulan fb ni boleh membina makna berbeza-beza tentang sesuatu perkara yang dibincangkan bersama. Kalau dikaji, orang pandai-pandai sebut sebagai 'discourse analysis'. Sekarang ni, kajian bahasa bukan setakat bahasa tutur dan tulis je, tapi bahasa visual, termasuk bahasa badan. Cuma di Malaysia, ramai yang masih syok beromen dengan badi dan pu'saka' estetika bentuk (tak payah cakap besor, yang menulis ni pun sesekali kena sampuk juga). 

Wacana dan makna yang terbentuk selalunya dibingkai oleh faktor masa (sejarah) dan lokasi (daerah atau lokaliti). Antaranya termasuklah makna-makna politik, sosial, ekonomi, kebudayaan, seni dll. Termasuk jugalah wacana (dan pembinaan makna) berkaitan dengan pengalaman kerohanian mahupun spiritualiti. 

Apabila sesuatu yang tidak dapat dicerap oleh pancaindera hendak diungkap dalam bahasa dunia jasad atau mimpi benda, yang sering terjadi adalah kegelinciran. Maksudnya, memang sukar untuk memasung atau memberi jasad, bentuk atau bahasa kepada pengalaman kerohanian (ghaib). Apa saja yang diungkap (secara tutur, tulis mahupun dalam bahasa visual), bukanlah sebenarnya pengalaman kerohanian tersebut, tetapi adalah 'bahasa' dan wacana yang digunakan  untuk menerangkannya. 

Tapi jangan heran jika ada yang memegang, meletakkan makna 'mutlak' (lebih parah lagi, memuja) 'bahasa' atau 'bentuk' (form) lebih dari menemui jalan untuk meng'alami' pengalaman kerohanian. Dalam bidang seni visual, ini quick sand yang paling licik mempersenda ego 'seniman'. Agaknya, sebab tu lah kekadang, bila dah perasan diri saya ni cukup petah berbicara dan berteori tentang kreativiti kerana ada pangkat Masters (belum Phd lagi tu), tiba-tiba terhijab dari menyedari yang jiwa dah keras jegang langsung tak mengalirkan kreativiti. 

Jiwa keras tak mengalir ni kerana makna-makna yang dibina oleh wacana boleh terperangkap dalam ledakan pelbagai istilah (dan pelbagai bahasa tutur, tulis dan visual). Kalau dipegang persis berhala, ada kalanya boleh menghadirkan konflik berpanjangan (walaupun dalam sesama bangsa dan fahaman agama sekalipun). Ada yang sanggup berperang, kalau tak pun berseteru sampai lebih dari tujuh keturunan. Hal ini kalau nak bincang boleh meleret. Sesiapa yang berminat, bukalah niat dan carilah insan yang lebih arif dari yang menulis ni.

Saya juga terkenang pameran "Raja'ah", suatu eksposisi himpunan karya-karya Sulaiman Esa atau lebih mesra dipanggil Pak Leman. Selain petah berbahasa tutur dan tulis, Pak Leman juga otai dalam bersilat dengan bahasa visual. Bila berdepan dengan karya-karya beliau semasa beliau muda dan semasa beliau sedang menuntut di luar negara, saya rasa 'hilang diri' dan lebih 'high'. Peliknya ini tidak terjadi bila berdepan dengan karya-karya beliau yang dikatakan lebih 'Islamik' penampilannya. Tapi 'high' saya tu mungkin bukan pengalaman kerohanian yang murni, atau saya yang tidak cukup 'Islamik'. Masih ada banyak yang tidak terungkai dalam 'wacana' yang mengiringi pameran Pak Leman. Mungkin belum masa untuk ia timbul lagi agaknya. 

Untuk orang biasa atau kebanyakan seperti kita yang suka melayan blog seperti ini, mungkin boleh direnung bahan-bahan yang lebih mudah digapai terlebih dulu. 

Kita boleh renungkan persoalan tentang cahaya dalam bidang fizik kuantum, juga kaitannya dengan kajian tentang otak (minda), fizik neuro dan sistem kompleks (complex system). Sistem kompleks pula boleh dikaitkan dengan teknologi maklumat. Teknologi maklumat memperlihatkan kepada kita bagaimana data (tidak berjasad, takda bentuk) disimpan secara 'maya', diakses, diolah, diaksikan, diwacana, dipecah, diolah-semula secara 'atas talian' atau 'online'. Sistem kompleks dan jaringan maklumat ini bebas dan tidak berlokasi tetap. Sesiapa juga boleh mengaksesnya secara 'remote' dari mana-mana. Operasinya lebih menyerupai operasi dan fungsi otak yang banyak dibincangkan dalam teori minda. Ini termasuk 'remote sensing' dan 'non-local communication'. Keduan-duanya dah ada dalam warisan Melayu contohnya, termasuklah apa yang dikatakan sebagai 'komunikasi batin' yang tak dipasung oleh jarak, ruang dan masa. Bonda kita ada remote sensing dengan minda kita.

Kini saya faham kenapa Arwah Pak Mail (Ismail Zain), guru saya, sibuk berpesan agar ditinjau tinggalan warisan dan tradisi Islam-Melayu umpamanya, dari sisi sains fizik dan teknologi. Al-Fatihah untuk Pak Mail.

Teori minda contohnya,  membicarakan tentang cara minda kita membina dan memaknakan apa yang kita sebut selalu sebagai 'pengalaman hidup ku', menggunakan kedua-dua jurus fikir otak sebelah kiri dan kanan. Lebih jauh lagi adalah kajian berkaitan dengan fizik neuro. Teori dan kajian ini pula boleh kaitkan dengan prinsip-prinsip yang terdapat dalam seni dan sains Islam yang sebenarnya juga merujuk kepada lapangan kuantum. Lapangan kuantum adalah dunia sub-atom atau medan tenaga yang lebih halus. Jika hanya lihat dari sisi 'bentuk', bernuansa positivis, kita hanya akan menemui 'arabesque' atau 'motif tumpal' je lah.

Jika dibandingkan dengan penerangan AlGhazali dalam "Misykatul Anwar", medan kuantum merujuk kepada cahaya akal. Banyak penemuan baru dari jurus fizik kuantum sebenarnya kembali semula kepada apa yang telah dibekalkan oleh Rasulullah S.A.W. (cuma biasalah, sains fizik rata-rata dikuasai oleh saintis yang tidak berpangkal syahadah dan tak bertalian tauhid). Sayang sekali buat masa ni tiada penguasaan kalangan orang Islam yang boleh menghubungkannya dengan konsep yang lebih halus seperti yang dihuraikan dalam nota Imam Madaina kita ini.  

Ramai juga (termasuk yang menulis ni) yang masih terperangkap dalam pemisahan sains dan seni, atau selesa dalam silo (kepungan ilmu atau bidang) masing-masing. Tapi ini mungkin pemerhatian cetek saya la. Saya harap saya salah, dan berdoa akan ditemukan dengan jalan hubung ber'talian' yang lurus (sebut dalam solat, itupun kalau tak miss solat la).

Begitupun, jika tidak dikaitkan dengan sesuatu yang bahasa dan wacananya bersifat sezaman (kontemporari) mungkin sukar untuk orang biasa memahami tulisan yang berbicara hal kerohanian, seperti yang dimaklumkan oleh Halim. Itu belum lagi kitab-kita yang menggunakan nahu bahasa Melayu yang lama, yang banyak diterjemah atau diolah-semula dari bahasa Arab, seperti yang digunakan oleh Ayahanda saya. Ada banyak 'arakian', 'sayugia'. 'ruhai', 'buana' dan macam-macam lagi. 

Malah, tak payahlah pergi jauh-jauh. Tulisan saya ni sendiri mungkin ramai yang 'tak faham'. Ada juga kekawan ikhlas (kalau tak pun, isteri sendiri) yang sesekali membangunkan lena ego saya dengan "apa yang hang merapu tulis ni?"

Saya kongsi, jika tak setuju takpa, tolak je ke tepi. Kalau rasa salah, nak betulkan, lagi best. Kita sama-sama mohon Petunjuk dan Hidayah dari Allah agar dapat mengecapi pemBANGUNan sebenar dari lena mimpi benda (atau holografi 4D). 

:)





 




Saturday, 17 December 2011

WAKING UP AFTER A 'HOT AFFAIR' - GARDENING AT THE PENANG INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE FAIR

This is another example of how transient life is. Just after that small 'I' (that I called 'me') had allowed this mind to create some mental concepts on the recently organized "Art Book Fair" (and then emotionally investing in being disappointed), came another hot 'affair'. But this fair has taught this mind to submit to a mental concept of fairness or adil (whilst allowing the emotion to bath it with enthusiasm and joy). Adil by the way, is the root term for my daughter's name, Adeela. 

Two 'fairs', one for the arts, another for the sciences. But both, really, should be in ONE fair together, to experience a 'hot affair'!

The one for the sciences was the recently organized Penang International Science Fair at the Penang International Sport Arena (PISA). Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah (MGTF) was invited. 

MGTF has for the past few years been a regular feature in science fairs around Penang, especially after being known for its very own 'Smart Art & Science Carnival' (SASC), organized in 2008, 2009 and 2010. This year, due to budget constrain, MGTF could not organize it again. What a shame, but we dance with the Will of the universe. We (my fellow gardeners and I, plus so many partners) managed to pull nearly 20,000 visitors to the 4 days SASC. But of course, you don't read that on the newspaper.

The Penang State Education Department had organized it's own science fair after witnessing the success of our SASC. Now came the Penang State government itself. Pity the State did not include the arts. No wonder our approach towards 'education' is not balanced (only develop and celebrate 'left' brain thinking, not the right brain too). Despite the call for a total or whole brain learning experience, even the state institutions mandated to take care of the 'education' are not embracing it.

How can we develop multiple intelligences? How can we create a balanced 'mind' that is 'at peace' with itself when we are too busy working on only half of its capacity (to experience learning)? How can we nurture creative minds? How can we induce sustainability with such an unbalanced approach towards how we use our brains? Not fair, dear science fair. 

But credit must still be given to the Penang State government for organizing this fair. It was a success, if numbers of visitors are taken as one of the yardsticks.

Anyway, the separation of left and right brain thinking is not fair to our nature. Working in isolated silo of our own so-called discipline of knowledge (art or science, positivist or phenomenological approach, quantitative or qualitative etc), only creates an illusion of separation. After all, what we take as our 'specialization', our 'career path' and our 'job prescription' are just a form of language and discourses meant to regulate stable meanings (but not to be obsessively attached to). If we totally identify our sense of self with those, we will only feed our ego and frozen sense of 'identity'. Well, I can cites so many theories and references on this, so let just stop there.  

Thankfully, that is not the case with MGTF. We have been known as a nurturing site for both left and right brain learning experience. So, we went to the fair with similar take. We brought our usual package, combining both the arts and sciences. We brought our mind teasers (that require the use of whole brain thinking to solve problems) and our own sustainable 180 degree cosmodome (only two in Malaysia, another one with the Petrosains in KL).

Our booth and cosmodome were swarmed by the enthusiastic visitors, from small kids to grandpa and grandma, in all colors. 


For the cosmodome, we screened an immersive video on a journey to the outer space with no narration and no textual description. It was a hit. Since we could only accommodate about 20 per screening (8 min), we had to screen it at 15 minutes interval throughout the one day fair. It was full house from the time we opened the show till the last screening at 10.30pm.


When we are dealing with the experience of learning (mind), we are dealing with the quantum field, the higher frequencies, the invisible waves or energy that are the root of this holographic mental projection that we call physical world and experience. 



The opacity of our obsessive attachment to artificial physical constructs (social, political, cultural, etc) can become more transparent during a revealing learning experience. In such experience, more light within us can be unveiled to shine with joy and bliss. With and through MGTF, I have learned to dissolve the opacity of my own visual artist 'posturing', submit and and just BE.


Kids especially, are already less opaque and more transparent than adults. Since MGTF has always been very kids friendly, MGTF itself has become more transparent and able to shine more light from within. 


Entertaining visitors with a clear heart and crystal mind doesn't need a 'budget'. If we invest or plant 'goodness', goodness will grow and prevail. If we plant joy of discovery, joy will grow. If we plant happiness, happiness will grow. If we plant wisdom, wisdom will grow. We have to become good gardeners (some 'seers' call it architects of physical reality).


Personal engagements with visitors bring lots of joy and smile that don't need a large 'capital'. I've been sharing (rather planting) this take on 'audience or visitors engagements' with my fellow gardeners in MGTF many many times already. I pray that it will be sustained forever.


The garden of the heart and mind within (the quantum field) must be well taken care off first, then only it will collectively manifest and grow into a beautiful physical (or mental projection/holographic 3D) garden for others to share in joy. Be it in a form of our premise in USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia) or outside, the garden will manifest and grow.

I am so grateful that I have been able to experience such joy with MGTF and all my fellow gardeners, including all our partners who have been working with us for so long (especially Dr. Choong and Nurul Fatini). 


In such joy, all the artificial needs to achieve KPI (Key Performance Indicators), numbers of visitors, press coverage, popularity, credits, compliments etc just dissolve into nothingness. After all, most government institutions have been perceived (by default) as not performing by some sections of the public. No need to expect a pat at the back, or a big and complimentary coverage (unless there is a political clown and issue to cover of course).  

Yes, everything will pass, everything is transient, but while we are playing out our roles in this holographic universe, let us create and project a world that is complimentary to our true nature....foremost is love.

And that is what it means behind MGTF's taglines "In the Name of Time" and "BEyond seeING".

Let us experience LIVING and BEING. 

Take the red pill and wake up (Bangun, in Malay), so that we may collectively attain freedom and progress (pemBANGUNan) in their truest sense.

(For an online book on MGTF USM's activities, click here)
http://issuu.com/mgtfusm/docs/smart_art___science_carnival