To my surprise, I was invited to present a 'workshop' paper for the above-mentioned conference. As I am currently trying very hard to master the zen of doing 'nothing' (except of course, my Phd research at this 'ripe' age, yaaa, go ahead, u may smile!), I was initially reluctant to oblige.
As there are more newbies (returning staffs with Phds and the title Dr. in front of their names), I might had become a part of 'history'. An invitation to a new 'returnee' might perhaps be more fitting. Plus, I don't see myself as a 'crowd-puller'. In fact, I might be a crowd repellent, as attested to my lecture in front of about ten persons (mostly members of the Angkatan Pelukis Kedah - APK) at the Paddy Museum in Kedah last September.
Nonetheless, I have to note that cikgu Judin and his APK gang were very cordial and generous. Terima kasih cikgu. Have to note also that I am used to 'small' audience when it comes to 'art talk'. Who would want to spend their precious time listening to one separa-pencen artist-academic giving a boring lecture? better watch Maharaja Lawak la bro!.
But then, I have been blessed (some would call it a curse), with a soft heart when it comes to a 'request', 'invitation', or 'favor' from a fellow friend. This time around, its from Dr. Jasni, as well as the conference's committee members who include those from the New Media Design and Technology Program, School of the Arts, USM.
This year is the 10th. year anniversary of the program, which I had a hand in drafting, designing, preparing, presenting and defending (in front of the JPA committee) way back in 2003/4. I have been 'off the loop' for the past seven years, predominantly due to my duties at the Museum and Gallery Tuanku Fauziah. Yet, my heart is close to the program, including the people who are running it now, Dr. Asyiek, Che' Not and Alias Ibrahim, not to mention its many 'graduates'(students). So, I said yes to Dr. Jasni.
I was asked to give a 'workshop' paper on the future of electronic art. Fuyooo, rather heavy duty stuff, almost forcing me to be a fortune-teller if not a bomoh. The word 'future' can be problematic too, especially if read in a very 3 dimensional, linear, positivist and according to an Euclidian paradigm. Combine that with 'history', especially as entombed by highly disciplinary discourses, more problem. So how!??
Problematize the 'future' even more! Mostly by returning back to previous 'predictions' by several key 'futurists' such as Naisbitt, Toffler, Burrus, etc, who used to churn out their 'predictions' about 18 to 20 years ago. Did their predictions came through, still stand and relevant? In fact, their writings were predominantly used as some of the key references in designing 'new programs' in higher institutions of learning back in the early 1990s, including electronic and new media arts. I thought that it was also a good time to recap what have been done for the past 20 years or so, as far as explorations in electronic and new media art is concerned.
I prepared an interactive paper, consisted mostly of 'self-conducted quiz'. I titled the session
"NARRATING (back to) THE FUTURE (of electronic art) NOW"
But then, due to the linear orientation of the proscenium stage in the Dewan Budaya hall, I could not run an interactive workshop session. It ended as a paper presentation, with me giving a monologue like a tired politician (Persidangan UMNO was in session then). Luckily, there were more than ten people, even though there were more empty chairs in the hall, compared to those occupied. In the front row, were a bunch of first year new media and technology students, who at times appeared to be rather bewildered by my power-points and ramblings. Pity them, sorry dik! I have the tendency to confuse and defuse easy or lazy assumptions.
Depending on my 'angin', I may share few selected contents of my 'monologue', and perhaps few views on the 'international' conference.
For the time being, I have to give thanks and extend my gratitude to Dr. Jasni, Assoc. Prof. Omar Bidin (my boss, the Dean), the conference committees, and those who were kind enough to come to my presentation, for the honor and pleasure of sharing my seposen reflections.