Tech-ing Art to the Next Level
Two young Malaysians plan to create that one space where everyone who is into arts and tech can gather to create new things, as well as exchange ideas. Su Aziz chats with them on their art collective, Filamen. This article was first published in In Focus issue 6.
Coffee drinking, 36-year old Fariz Hanapiah introduces himself as a tech enthusiast who loves how tech can improve people’s lives exponentially. Fariz and co-founder, Abdul Shakir, created a four-year old local art collective that specialises in audio-visual technology, the KL-based Filamen. It’s where local artists can express artistic works through tech – where visual art, ideas and tech meld.
‘Filamen started in 2016 as an idea to gather visual artists and do lots of projection mapping works,’ explains Fariz. ‘Since then, it has evolved into something more communal as a point of gathering between new media artists, traditional artists, curators, arts enthusiasts, students and art festivals.’
Both Fariz and Shakir felt that there was a gap in Malaysia between art and tech. ‘They’re pretty polarised and we thought that we could work out a platform that could merge these two together and create new things,’ Fariz explains further. ‘To us it’s a natural progression for us to dive into this as we have already been working a lot with art and tech on a daily basis.’
Currently, Fariz is deeply involved with motions graphics and design companies of Motiofixo and EDT in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He believes that technology has paved many new ways for artists to express themselves. New mediums such as light projection, LED’s, touch displays, sensory allow artists to explore new techniques and be able to take audiences to a different world altogether. This evolution will continue, he reckons, ‘It’s our role to get artists, and new artists, the accessibility to the new tech in order to discover new ways of expression.’
Right now, the best example of tech and arts that both Fariz and Shakir love would be Teamlab’s works. It’s an international art collective featuring various specialists from artists to architects whose collaborative practice navigate the confluence of art, science, tech and the natural world. ‘We’ve seen it in Tokyo, Singapore and Jakarta. I personally love how they execute the works that have all the items checked as promoting local culture, arts that are very inclusive for all audiences and a sustainable business model,’ says Fariz.
Meanwhile, the most significant collaborative work that Filamen has curated would be Immersio, which is an immersive audio and visual exhibition. ‘We’ve been working with Freeform, the good guys who made Urbanscapes, the past three years. And we’ve created Immersio. It was significant because these events elevated our profile and allowed us to expose many new talents that have now grown and received their own clientele.’
The biggest challenge the duo face while curating arts and tech is finding new and fresh talents. ‘It’s also the most important part of building a community. Then, it’ll be keeping up with tech and having the know-how on things. All these also boil down to cost which lead to sustainability. It’s an ongoing adventure that we’re happy to be challenged with.’
The father of two, speaks on how they propel an arts-based company to be economically viable. ‘That’s in fact one of our pillar missions in Filamen – to make creating art and tech accessible. We’re hoping that we could work with various parties from the government, festival organisers, hardware suppliers and create one centralised space that could act as a “library of art and tech” which artists can access hardware, space and knowledge, at least resistance,’ says Fariz.
From observation, Fariz concludes that audience crave for ‘experiential’ everything, ‘It’ll be a big opportunity for artists to use tech as an enabler for this. Spatial design, architecture, retail in malls, brands and digital content will definitely be in need of artists as a service. It’s also consumption of arts themselves will improve as people see the merging of these content consumption into their daily lives.’ Both Fariz and Shakir plan to create that one space where everyone who is into arts and tech can gather and create new things, and exchange ideas. ‘We hope we could start working on this, this year and get that up as soon as possible,’ says Fariz.
One last question, if you knew then, what you know now about technology, what would you have done different creatively? ‘I don’t think I would have done anything differently. It’s all about timing and finding that sweet spot,’ Fariz says with a smile. We thought so too and we can’t wait to witness Filamen’s progress once the pandemic is over. All in good time, they say. For nothing innovative ever comes easy.
Photos by Filamen.