Public Talk Series: Media art scene in South East Asia, 2012 Presented at Japan Foundation HQ, Tokyo, Japan

August 27 2012 Presentation Synopsis: `It’s There; It’s Not There: New Media Art in Malaysia’:

New Media art is a budding art form in Malaysia. It still struggles to make its way within the flourishing local contemporary art scene and to even be recognized as the form-less art form. The uneven distribution of technology and infrastructure coupled with government controlled mass media are seen as two strong setbacks to local public’s new media acceptance.

However, the government’s economic initiatives to produce a creative economy had spurred a host of grants, scholarship and entrepreneurial support for new media artists to delve into the digital electronic media as a profession. Together with a growing entertainment industry, society’s attitude and acceptance towards new media is rapidly changing for the better.

New media artists in the country are well verse within the realm of popular culture, yet they stand firmly on the fringe of contemporary art. They have banded together to form collectives so that they may initiate their own projects and events. The artists’ strong ties with popular culture (media and advertising, for example) often times make it difficult to distinguish between an art work and commercial work.

In the recent years, a few Malaysian new media artists have moved from only producing art works (usually confined within a gallery space) to organizing events that draw critical attention to their niche art form.

While the `experimental’ continues in alternative media spaces like Space in Cheras , Kuala Lumpur (SICKL) and Findars; there is a growing interest amongst new media artists to express and explore Malaysian cultural narratives. There is also a strong `audience building development’ movement amongst the new media artists to garner greater public acceptance to new media.

New media artists are now taking constructive positions in society to address issues or challenges faced by a developing nation such as Malaysia. Issues such as digital and knowledge divide from the uneven technology infrastructure and digital art to create renewed interests in dying local cultures threatened by modernization.

New Media art in Malaysia makes no claim to present latest technology tools or high end computer processors used in art. Instead, the artists reach to whatever economical technology to ensure the spirit of new media of learning, sharing, and extending network presents ideas and concepts within a Malaysian context.

Suzy Sulaiman /August 2012 Tokyo, Japan.

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