Cubes, light and pixels illuminate climate issues at new media exhibit in KL


Kaoru Tanaka's 'Glowing Plants' references the UN's goal of Responsible Consumption and Production. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

The ground floor atrium of Fahrenheit88 in Kuala Lumpur has been transformed into a luminous world of technicolour light cubes, squares and pixels at the iNYALA exhibition. The month-long show is a spatial experience that features 17 art installations in LED display cubes, which includes one giant cube, a dozen smaller cubes by university students and works by Japan-based digital artist and designer Kaoru Tanaka, local design agency FabU and artist-architect Jun Ong.

These cube installations have live media art mapped onto the digital canvases, creating a vivid field of visual spectacle overlapped with soundtrack curated by award-winning music production company Inner Voices Productions, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in real-life data which reveals the past and present of pressing issues in Malaysia

The exhibit iNYALA 2022 revolves around the theme of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a comprehensive set of goals to end poverty, protect our planet and improve living conditions of the global population.

The digital artworks on display invite the audience to contemplate on Malaysia’s progress in achieving a balanced human, social, economic and environmental sustainability through a combination of data, visual, sound, space and light.

Si Ying's 'Till The Greens Are Gone' draws from data collected from pictures of deforestation and construction work taken in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, leading us from lively greens to the hard grey tones of the concrete jungle. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani Si Ying's 'Till The Greens Are Gone' draws from data collected from pictures of deforestation and construction work taken in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, leading us from lively greens to the hard grey tones of the concrete jungle. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

In the open call for student submissions earlier this year, the organiser invited proposals for generative artwork based on any of these Goals. The most popular themes chosen by the students for their artwork were "Climate Action" and "Good Health And Well-Being".

Brighten the corners

An art installation from Ammar Hazman Rosli titled 1 Movement 0 Execution on Climate Action explores natural disasters that have resulted from man-made actions.

“As climate mitigation has become an increasing concern in the face of climate change, this artwork hopes to provoke thought on what can be done before it is too late,” reads the Multimedia University student's artist statement.

Blankmalaysia’s (Universiti Malaya) 55100/221126 looks at the fluidity of urban landscapes in Malaysia and the price we pay for development, in his examination of Climate Action as well as Decent Work And Economic Growth.

Nur Farahhani Azwa Rosli’s (Multimedia University) The Tower Of Perfidy is based on the Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions goal.

“Malaysia is a country at a crossroads, plagued by bribery and corruption. This artwork focuses on exploring how the country can achieve peace and justice in the aftermath of one of the biggest corruption scandals in the world,” she says.

Jun Ong's 'Pixels' seen at the iNYALA exhibit resemble a geological terrain from afar and city facades from up close. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani Jun Ong's 'Pixels' seen at the iNYALA exhibit resemble a geological terrain from afar and city facades from up close. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

Kaoru Tanaka’s Glowing Plants puts plants front and centre in this interpretation of the Responsible Consumption And Production goal.

“Beautiful and delicate plants always heal and light us up. Just as plants are generated by the sun, carbon dioxide, and water, so too are the things that humans produce. This installation seeks to reflect and reimagine how human production such as sustainable manufacturing by utilising natural materials might be part of the solution to climate change,” says Kaoru.

Helios Loo, founder of iNYALA, notes that the exhibition theme serves as the holding space for people to pause and reflect on the country’s development and progress, particularly on SDGs, as we emerge from the pandemic. "I hope the new format of iNYALA which dives into generative art will inspire dialogue and enable Malaysians to imagine different ways of thinking and doing to transform the world we live in,” he says.

Also at the exhibition is Ong’s Pixels, inspired by the modularity and density of fibres and diodes, two main components of the materials used in the show’s setup – LED screens and cardboard.

“From afar, the glowing installation can resemble a geological terrain while upclose reminds one of the dynamic facades of cities. The entire spine anchors itself on the ground through a large, spatialised pixel that allows visitors to experience the insides of a pixel.

Tan Sher Lynn (FabU)'s 'Amorphous' is an attempt at recreating natural phenomena digitally, such as seen in minute organisms that influence each other, forming efficient networks similar to that of mathematically generated patterns. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani Tan Sher Lynn (FabU)'s 'Amorphous' is an attempt at recreating natural phenomena digitally, such as seen in minute organisms that influence each other, forming efficient networks similar to that of mathematically generated patterns. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

"The architectural language of the cardboard structure not only allows for structural integrity but also an intelligent soundscape and lighting system. Its modularity ensures that every component in the installation can be dismantled, reused and reimagined in the future,” says Ong.

In 2019, the inaugural iNYALA was an interactive light art exhibition at RexKL that transformed the space into a digital park.

This year’s edition takes it a step further, offering a curated multi-sensory experience with a focus on generative art.

“Generative art is a type of new media art format with visual content created with data, statistics or facts. The creation process is based on parameters set by the artist, either manually or through technology, to generate or produce new ideas, forms, shapes, colours and patterns. We hope that this exhibition will create curiosity, raise awareness and inspire action revolving around the Goals,” says Loo.

New voices, new directions

He adds that the exhibition provides a platform for the younger generation to voice their concerns, allowing visitors to navigate between real-life data that reveals the past and present, and imagine new ways of thinking and doing to transform the world we live in.

It brings together not just young talents and artists, but also professionals from different industries such as architects, sound artists, designers and LED specialists.

“We work together with students and artists to create generative artworks, with the setup and mapping done by industry professionals. iNYALA is a dynamic platform that brings people together to dream, learn, innovate and create a borderless experience and appreciation for the art sector through technology and sustainability,” he says.

The iNYALA exhibition offers a curated multi-sensory experience with a focus on generative art. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani The iNYALA exhibition offers a curated multi-sensory experience with a focus on generative art. Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

The project iNYALA is spearheaded by Helio Media, in collaboration with new media art collective Filamen. It is supported by Tourism Malaysia and Yayasan Sime Darby.

Visitors can expect a diverse presentation, from techniques such as anamorphic 3D (also called Naked Eye 3D) to concepts like Tetris.

Touting itself as a first-of-its-kind immersive art experience in Malaysia that teleports audiences to a world of cubes and data, iNYALA will also offer a synchronised hourly multimedia show, involving all 17 art installations accompanied by music. This show is inspired by a world of beautiful possibilities when the Goals are achieved.

“The cube is the shape of the Global Goals. It is also an interesting form where the cube’s different faces remind us to look at a matter from a different perspective. I hope that through the exhibition, the audience can look at our daily lives with a different perspective and think about our role in living a sustainable lifestyle,” says Loo.

This project prioritises an environmentally-friendly exhibition design and construction, with 75% of the materials used for the show being refurbished or recyclable in its bid to reduce wastage. Refurbished LED panels and cardboard make up the bulk of the setup.

“It is no secret that there are considerable environmental costs and waste produced associated with exhibitions. For example, wood is one of the most common materials used in setting up events and short-term exhibitions but it is also non-recyclable after being painted. We have simplified the setup materials, which are mainly refurbished LED panels and raw cardboard. The transportation of materials and carbon footprint are reduced too as the cardboard is lightweight and can be packed flat,” he explains.

There are no limits to art and creativity, he notes.

“We look forward to seeing iNYALA 2022 help audiences to find a sense of hope, joy and inspire progress amid a post-Covid era,” he concludes.

iNyala is showing at Fahrenheit 88 in Kuala Lumpur until Dec 25. Exhibition hours: 10am to 10pm. Free admission. More info here.

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