PEACE PREVAILS

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Sunday, 23 December 2012

NEW SPARKS FROM UNIMAS

Yet again, I went to UNIMAS, to sniff the final year projects-in-progress by their students. As usual, there were many lost and meandering souls looking for direction, if not inspiration. The air was filled with fatigue, with some searching for hopes. I went through the works of students who focus on e-art works. Many were too sketchy to mention here, not hitting the right notes yet. I could sense myriads of crossing thoughts and opinions too, that might explain the mental fatigue. I tried my best to share my passion and thoughts, holding on to the UNIMAS's tradition of churning out creative and innovative e-art and new media based fine art works. In fact, as far as I know, amongst the earliest outdoor video mapping projects done in Malaysia, was done by a UNIMAS's student, all by himself for his final year project, D.I.Y. Should be noted too, it was done earlier than that  glitter and expensive one done in George Town, Penang. Of course, it might not be taken into account as a 'seminal project' or included in some fancy international reviews on new media art in Malaysia. 

Anyway, back to my visit, in the midst of those hits and runs, I saw three beautiful potentials, in the interactive works of Diba, Syan and Sufry. The technology is not new, but the creative use of it in fine art context is rather refreshing.

To my 'baby bucuk' (smelly baby, as I nicknamed her) named Diba, thank you so much for sharing this final year work in progress of yours. Ya, digital rain or virtual simulacra does deconstruct whilst making weird, if not funny copies of us. For the time being, I think its a bit too literal with that 'LOLs' and 'OMGs' falling down on our distorted virtual bodies. But then, you have plenty of time to further dwell into the semiotics of net communication to come out with a more substantial solution.

Diba's interactive work employ real-time processing from live camera input. The popular acronyms LOL and OMG fall downwards like digital rain. They can be manipulated (or blocked from falling) by the audience using the contour of their bodies.

 

Syan's interactive work-in-progress also employs similar approach with Diba, but his work is projected on a floor instead of a wall. Syan studies the nature of wave forms and how they relate to the quantum as well as Eastern notion of energy, frequency and vibration. As an audience member steps into his video of stone pebbles, a ripple is created. When more steps involve (sometimes with more than one audience), the ripples will interfere, creating complex web of interfering patterns. One can read many things into it. Syan's work can be further developed to be a mesmerizing and meditative work of art. It also reminds me of an interactive work by another UNIMAS's alumni, John Hi.

Syan's interactive work needs more detail consideration on its final presentation, especially the scale of the image, the scale and shape of the projection, the setting on the floor, the ambiance, including sound and the clarity of the ripple effect.

Sufry's interactive work is sound-triggered. On the screen is an image of him sleeping lazily on what appears to be a working table. As an audience comes and hits the board in front of the screen, he wakes up surprisingly and starts to hastily pretend to work.  His work is simple, but I can't help to ponder on the notion of 'dream' from a philosophical and quantum point of view. We are all dreamers of forms, an illusion of physicality created by the deeper quantum field in which our mind is a part of (or connected to). 

Seeing these three works, and few others, soared my spirit high as I was lucky enough to be a part of the earlier team of 'gardeners' who helped to plant the seeds at UNIMAS. All the best to UNIMAS's final year students from the Fine Art Department, Faculty of Applied & Creative Arts. 

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