Malaysian Artists Creating in VR
On November 11th 2020, CENDANA (Cultural Economy Development Agency) Malaysia reported that 70% of contributors to the arts industry are close to or have lost their income completely due to the pandemic (https://www.hmetro.com.my/rap/2020/11/640757/93-peratus-penggiat-seni-dan-kru-belakang-tabir-terjejas). Artists have been finding ways to adapt with the times and those who struggle to do so find it difficult to sustain their practice without diversifying or completely switching careers.
Maitree House became increasingly aware of the needs and interest of Malaysian art practitioners in translating traditional work as well as diversifying their practice to find a presence in the digital or virtual world. In recognising that, Maitree started to hire local artists to grow their team and to find ways to contribute resources and technology to local artists with intentions of building a platform for artists to explore the capabilities of presenting and creating in a virtual realm.
Early 2021, Maitree hosted a community discussion in attempts to gauge community perspective on introducing XR technology to the local arts industry. Many artists involved voiced the need for guidance and education in venturing into a new realm of production. From this conversation grew Maitree House’s first VR/AR Artist Residency. A 2-week long residency catered to introduce artists to creating in Oculus Quest via applications such as tilt brush and graffiti sketch.
This 2 week residency included ample time for artists to explore the platform and gain exposure to creating in a whole new format. After a week of exploring, the artist was able to generate ideas and artwork to pitch a proposal to Maitree. This proposal included 2 outcomes, a virtual gallery designed by graffiti and mixed media visual artist, Taz and an AR portal concept presented by Fakh, a multi-talented painter and 3D generalist.
The artists were grateful for this experience as it allowed them to continue their craft and develop their practice during the lockdown in Malaysia. Maitree’s team displayed adaptability and resilience in making the residency happen as what was meant to be an in person experience was well executed in an online format through, online discussion, casting of headsets, planned activities and virtual multiplayer engagements. The outcomes of this residency included prototypes of the two ideas pitched by the artist, depicting the success of the residency and encouraging the Maitree team to declare annual residencies for Malaysian artists.
To hear from the artists themselves, click the link below:
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