Hari Warisan (Cultural Heritage Appreciation Day) was introduced in 2021 by the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) to acknowledge and appreciate Malay cultural practitioners and activists in Singapore who create content and contribute to their cultural heritage. Hari Warisan 2022 (HRW 2022), which is in its second run, was graced by Guest-of-Honour (GOH), Madam Som Said, a Cultural Medallion Recipient (1987) and The Stewards of Intangible Cultural Heritage Award (2020). HRW 2022 comprised two segments (morning and afternoon), and those in attendance were MHF’s invited speakers for the past lecture series, arts and cultural practitioners, academics and MHF board members.
Saturday, 10 December 2021 – The second segment of Hari Warisan was a panel discussion titled “Digitalisation – Impact and Opportunities for the Malay Arts and Cultural Sector”. Practitioners and activists from various art forms and disciplines shared their practices and experiences in the Singaporean arts and culture scene. Liyana Nasyita Shukarman, MHF’s Teman Warisan of 2021, moderated the session. It was conducted in both Malay and English and welcomed an audience of varying cultural backgrounds. Additionally, continuing to make the programmes accessible to a broader audience, the segment was held in a hybrid format where guests on-site at Wisma Geylang Serai were joined by virtual audiences who tuned in via MHF’s Facebook live stream.
Liyana introduced the audience to the speakers. The speakers were Saiful Amri Ahmad Elahi, Burhan Jumadi and Fezhah Maznan. To get the ball rolling, Liyana invited Saiful Amri Ahmad Elahi, a creative producer in Singapore’s Malay performing arts scene and a performing arts practitioner, to initiate his sharings.
Saiful’s sharing was titled, “Are We Pivoting Back? The Digital Drive Back Then Was for Sustenance”. He shared the woes of having to halt live performances due to the recent pandemic restrictions. While these woes were indeed suppressive, his production company had instead pivoted to technology and digitalisation. New avenues and ideas were inspired by this use of technology, allowing them to sustain the art scene. Together with a collective of Malay Theatre Practitioners, “Panggung Digital” was born for them to continue creating amidst the strains of the Circuit Breaker in Singapore.
Saiful then reflected on the increasing prominence of digitalisation beyond the theatre scene. He added that this is to cater to a changing world and younger audience as well as the challenges such as the lack of funding. Saiful shared how some art galleries can be experienced virtually without travelling and being physically present to appreciate the artworks. However, despite the popularity of technology and the digital world, he emphasised the need to promote and create physical art production, as the physical experience is exceptional in its own way.
Liyana then invited Burhan Jumadi, a creative designer who worked on Projection Mapping for Event Festivals and Installation, to begin his sharing named “Adapting to The Future of Digital Technology”. He touched on his career journey and how he started to dwell in projection mapping on the façade of buildings, such as the Sultan Mosque. For a project called Cahaya Ramadan (Ramadan Light), Burhan was involved in the light show projected on the exterior of the Sultan Mosque. He also revealed the challenges of technology as an art and how physical technology like projectors, lights, and sound can enhance cultural artefacts, just like the Sultan Mosque.
Furthermore, Burhan shared on augmented reality, an area he has been actively experimenting with. He added that the development of banners in augmented reality could enhance promoting products and events by becoming more interactive and engaging than typical banners. Burhan suggested that projection mapping and augmented reality became more prominent in the arts and cultural scene. This prompted the audience to reflect on the digital world, its quick evolution, and the need to keep up with its relevancies.
Next, Liyana invited the final speaker, Fezhah Maznan, to share her “Mapping the Digital and Performance” presentation. Fezhah is a creative producer and performance dramaturg based in Singapore. She is well-travelled – from the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Locally, Fezhah is also a producer with the Singapore International Festival of Arts and Singapore Writers Festival.
In her sharing, Fezhah discussed the different case studies she accumulated locally and worldwide on what inspired her throughout the pandemic. All across the world, technology was being taken up as a tool for art. She shared that an example would be the fusion of virtual reality and storytelling with VR goggles to provide new, immersive experiences that help liven stories to its audiences. Like Burhan, Fezhah shared that another aspect of digitalisation in the arts would be augmented reality and artificial intelligence across different art forms, i.e., dance, theatre, and visual arts. Digitalisation piques her interest, especially as an artist herself. Fezhah also reminded the audience that while digitalisation is approaching, art must grow in tandem to bring about brand-new and exclusively modern experiences.
Liyana facilitated the Q&A segment, addressing several questions posed by both on-site and virtual audiences using the Slido app. Questions on the adverse qualities of the digitalisation of art were discussed. It is imperative to note that all three creatives highlighted the importance of maintaining physical (or on-site) experience amidst the increasing use and integration of digital technology.
Hari Warisan is supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) and National Heritage Board (NHB) and in appreciation of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and Muhammadiyah Association of Singapore.
To read the programme highlights for the morning session of Hari Warisan, click here.
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- Full Video Segment I: Hari Warisan 2022
- Full Video Segment II: Digitalisation: Impact and Opportunities for the Malay Arts and Cultural Sector
- Saiful Amri Ahmad Elahi – Are We Pivoting Back? The Digital Drive Back Then Was for Sustenance
- Fezhah Maznan – Mapping the Digital & Performance
- Hari Warisan 2022 Media Release