Module IV: Social Engagement and Art Intervention


1. Roundtable: Re-Siting Cinema

Speakers: Aram Siu Wai Collier (Filmmaker, Editor, Educator and Film Festival Programmer, Canada), Fransiska Prihadi (Minikino Program Director, Indonesia), Kyungmook Kim (Filmmaker, Media Artist and Educator, South Korea), Sujie Kim (Visual Ethnographer, Mediact Researcher, ACT editor, Indie Impact, South Korea), Tammy ko Robinson (Artist-Researcher, Associate Professor at Hanyang University, South Korea), Ray Langenbach (Professor, Faculty of Creative Industries; Chair, Center for Artistic Research, Tunku Abdul Rahman University, Malaysia)

This roundtable discussion assembles programmers, filmmakers and scholars in critical dialogue about changing conditions of cinema stewardship and filmmaking as a decolonial practice. We will share our research findings and lessons learned with peers about emergent media industry shifts on leveraging virtual productions and XR technologies as resources for independent filmmakers in Asia, in Southeast Asia and in diaspora. Framing questions include challenges to the narrative, mise en abyme, and aesthetic precedents. Together roundtable attendees will join us in conversation regarding how to enact decolonial governance and audience accessibility via roles in community-based collaborations from screening partnerships to VR programming.

Aram Siu Wai Collier is a filmmaker, editor, educator, and film festival programmer. Aram has a background in documentary, editing the award-winning feature documentary Refugee and directing/editing the short doc Who I Became, both of which were broadcast nationally on PBS in the United States. His subsequent dramatic and experimental film work has been played at festivals in the United States, Canada, Japan, and China. From 2011 to 2014, his omnibus live music and film project Suite Suite Chinatown toured Canada, Asia, and the United States. He wrote, directed, edited and produced the Telefilm Canada-funded feature film Stand Up Man. Most recently, Aram directed and edited the award-winning short documentary A Sweet & Sour Christmas about a family-run Chinese restaurant on Christmas for CBC. Aram currently serves as Head of Programming for Reel Asian.

Fransiska Prihadi is co-founder of the art-house cinema MASH Denpasar. She is Programme Director of Minikino International Short Film Festival Bali-Indonesia. She has served as a guest programmer & jury for various national and international short film festivals, with experience as a facilitator and mentor for filmmaking and film festival writing workshops.

Kyungmook Kim is a filmmaker, media artist, and educator. Ranging from video arts to documentaries and narrative films, their works explore the precarity of marginalized individuals such as queers, sex workers, North Korean defectors, and prisoners. KyungMook’s directorial debut was with Me and Doll-playing (2004) at the age of nineteen. Since then, they have engaged in various forms of cinema, including the Things Trilogy consisting of Faceless Things (2005), Stateless Things (2011), and Futureless Things (2014), and their most recent works include VR installation, 5.25 Squared Meters (2021). These films have been selected for and received awards in numerous international film festivals such as the Venice Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the BFI London Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum. They are currently majoring in Visual Arts (D.F.A) at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of Communication & Arts.

Tammy ko Robinson is an artist-researcher. Her body of work explores decoloniality and the stewardship of airwaves, land, and water through videos, installations, and archive creation that have exhibited internationally in film festivals, museums and galleries. Tammy has held residencies with Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong) and the Asia Cultural Center (South Korea). Throughout her career, she has written on matters of art and culture for a wide range of publications, including: The Hankyoreh, Pressian, SPACE Magazine, Asia-Pacific Journal, ArtAsiaPacific, KoreAm, Flash Art, and InSEA. Formerly faculty of the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and the San Francisco Art Institute, since remigration she now serves as an Associate Professor at Hanyang University where she teaches cinema, emergent media and design journalism. 

Sujie Kim previously a filmmaker herself who worked in the commercial/independent film industry for five years, Sujie has taught and directed public educational programs and research since 2015. She served as a Program Director of Mediact—the first media center established in South Korea—designing and teaching public programs for beginners who want to learn how to make films and get proficient in production skills or advanced learners who want to explore the new media. Also as an editor of a webzine ‘ACT!’, she also wrote and published articles that explore how the media industry evolves and how changes in media platforms drive the emergence of new narratives of games and documentaries. She is now working on her own short ethnography films and writing genre critic and novels and studying anthropology at Seoul National University.


2. Workshop: Speculative and Social Design

Speakers: Wen-Shu Lai (professor, Institute of Applied Arts, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University), Kuang-Yi Ku (bio-artist and speculative designer), Theresa Tsun-Hui Tsao (bio-artist and bioneer) 

This workshop will be led by an internationally renowned artist Kuang-Yi Ku. Ku is devoted to social and cultural issues through collaborations among art, design, and bioscience. As biotech and other advanced technologies move out of the laboratory into the marketplace, there is a need now, more than ever, to explore the cultural, social and ethical implications of emerging technologies. This workshop will focus on presenting projects that would allow the participants to debate the implications of speculative and social design roles, contexts and methods.


Wen-Shu Lai attended the University of Iowa, where she had earned her MA and MFA degrees in Art/Design, and Doctoral degree in Art Education. From 2001 to 2004, Lai taught at Angelo State University in Texas as an assistant professor of art. Currently she is a professor in the Institute of Applied Arts, director of the Interrogative transArt Lab and core member of transArt NYCU team at the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. She is also a researcher of the International Institute for Cultural Studies at NYCU. She was a recipient of the Fulbright Grant for Art in 2008, and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, USA in 2016. Her research interests are in Art Intervention, Cross-disciplinary Arts, Interrogative Design, Hermeneutic Theory, Phantom Narratives, Graphic Narratives, and Artist’s Books.

Kuang-Yi Ku was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and has been based in the Netherlands since 2016. He graduated with triple master degrees in social design from Design Academy Eindhoven; in dentistry from National Yang Ming University; and in Communication Design from Shih Chien University. Formerly a dentist, Ku is a bio-artist and speculative designer. He co-founded TW BioArt (a Taiwan bioart community) to stimulate the fields of BioArt and Science + Art in Taiwan. His works often deal with the human body, sexuality, interspecies interactions, and medical technology, and aim to investigate the relationships among technology, individuals, and the environment. Kuang-Yi Ku’s “Tiger Penis Project” was awarded the 2018 Gijs Bakker Award, the annual prize for the best project by a graduating master’s student in Design Academy Eindhoven. He also won First Prize in the Taipei Digital Art Awards in 2015 with “The Fellatio Modification Project,” in which body modification, gender studies, queer theory, and dentistry all come together. Ku’s works have been featured in international media ranging from New Scientist, The Huffington Post, Elephant Magazine, DAMN° Magazine, Dezeen, and Designboom, to VICE, Dazed Digital, Daily Mail, and the New York Post. In Fall 2021, Kuang Yi Ku started his Ph.D. research at lab4living (design and health research lab) in Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. The research topic is “Facing the Biological Divide: collaborations between art, design, and bioscience.”

Theresa Tsun-Hui Tsao is a bio-artist and bioneer. After graduating from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia with a PhD in biotechnology, she worked for many years as a postdoc in National Taiwan University and National Taiwan University Hospital. In 2019, she joined the College of Arts, National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan, and currently hosts the NTHU BioArt Laboratory. Her works, Suffocating@Love, Needle Therapy, Blood Power Station, HEREiAM™, EdiGenics, qpHesitation, and InterGrass applied medical(-like) procedures, biotechniques, and genetic engineering to explore the distortion of perception and the limitation of technology.


3. Seminar: Approaching the City through Walking

Speakers: Louis Lo (Associate Professor and Director, Institute of Visual Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University), Paul Fung (Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English, Hang Seng University of Hong Kong), Ian Ho-Yin Fong (Part-time Lecturer, Department of Comparative Literature, The University of Hong Kong)

In the age of what Ackbar Abbas calls “the poverty of images,” we can no longer understand a city from its mediated images. The image of the city is “poor” not because its resolution is not high enough, but because there is a disconnection between image and city. The more images we have, the less we understand about the city. This is even more so in places where the colonial power left but no real decolonization takes place, such as Hong Kong, Macao, and arguably Taiwan. How can we recognize such a situation, a place which has been officially de-colonized without real decolonialization, a post-colonial situation which never goes beyond neo-coloniality. The problem becomes even more severe but obscure in the age of globalization following a neo-liberal logic whereby a heterogenous social norm seems to suppress every domain in civic lives. It does not help when technology is governed by the same logic and technological advancement is never on the side of the marginalized groups. The first step to break through such a web of control is to regain the senses of the body in a phenomenological way. One can only get a distorted impression from images, for they are only clichéd representation, be it propaganda, advertisement, or entertainment. Meaningful ways of approaching the city, therefore, cannot be done without an awareness of the medium of the image itself. Abbas calls for a critical analysis of the city’s cultural productions (such as cinema, architecture, design, new media), or as I would like to propose here, to use our body to approach the city, i.e., to walk in its streets and alleys, to take its stairs, to contemplate in public spaces. This seminar panel invited speakers who have been working on the topic of understanding the city via an alternative research method, attempting to come up with a new methodology of understanding the city.

Louis Lo received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. He is Associate Professor and Director, Institute of Visual Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao University. He is working on a comparative study on the revenge motif in literature and films provisionally entitled Justice in Excess: Revenge in Literature from Shakespeare to James.

Paul Fung is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English at The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the intersections of literature, philosophy and film, which is reflected in his book on Fyodor Dostoevsky: Dostoevsky and the Epileptic Mode of Being (Oxford: Legenda, 2015). He is currently working on irony as a mode of existence in the work of Schlegel, Kierkegaard and de Man. His recent article on Edward Yang’s Yi Yi and mimesis was published in Ex-position in 2020.

Ian Ho-Yin Fong is an independent scholar teaching literary and cultural studies in various tertiary institutions in Hong Kong. He is now working on a book manuscript with a tentative title Walking Everyday in Literature & Film. He received his PhD degree in comparative literature from the University of Hong Kong, and will be taking up a Short-term Visiting Scholar position in the International Center for Cultural Studies at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University. 


4. Seminar: Decolonizing Research Methodologies – Deconstructing the Paradox of “East Asian” “Cute” Expressivity

Speaker: Aljoša Pužar (Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Urban Anthropology, Department of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

The seminar will focus on the methodological approaches to the culture of kawaii, aegyo, and sajiao, using my own related research and the research of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and American scholars, and will lead participants into debates on decolonizing of research methodologies. Most examples will come from East Asian cultures (including Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Thai) and will stand at the crossroads of cuteness studies, gender studies, and sexuality studies. This seminar will discuss national, transnational, global, and glocal realities, taking into account intellectual concepts such as “Asia as a method” and “Asian inter-referencing,” and the notion of cultural “odor” and “odorlessness” (Iwabuchi). It will tackle some recent methodological debates on indigenous methodologies and will test their possible impact across different contexts. It will include more traditional problems of the researcher’s positionality and politics, but will also discuss contemporary cultural wars about authenticity and cultural appropriation.

Aljoša Pužar (PhD Rijeka, PhD Cardiff) is Croatian-Italian-Slovenian cultural studies, cultural anthropology, gender studies, youth studies and media studies scholar, ethnographer, writer, and social critic. Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Urban Anthropology, Department of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Director of EUACTO (Eurasian Cultural Trends Observatory) in Rijeka and Ljubljana. External lecturer of cultural studies at Berlin University of Arts (UDK, Berlin, Germany. From December 2016 he is serving on the Board of Association for Cultural Studies (world cultural studies association, Tampere, Finland). From 2007 to 2016 he was teaching and researching at South Korean universities. He is presently researching and publishing mostly in the fields of gender and sexuality studies, cultural geography, affect studies, Korean studies, and voice studies.


5. Seminar: Decolonizing Identities: Film as Organizing Practice

Speaker: Valerie Soe (Professor, Filmmaker, Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University, US)

Since 1986 Valerie Soe has created nearly two dozen experimental and documentary films which look at social and political concerns such as racism, representation, and the histories of Asians living in the United States. In this presentation, Soe will screen a selection of her short documentary films, followed by a discussion of the films’ relevance to issues in the Asian American community.  She will talk about her filmmaking process and how her work intersects with organizing and activism in the Asian American community.

Valerie Soe is Professor in Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University, US. Since 1986 Valerie Soe’s experimental videos, installations, and documentary films have won dozens of awards, grants, and commissions and have been exhibited at venues such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York City, and at film festivals, museums, and galleries worldwide. Her short experimental video, “ALL ORIENTALS LOOK THE SAME,” created when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, won Best Foreign Video at the 1987 Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino, Italy, First Place, Experimental Category, at the 1987 Sony Corporation Visions of U.S. Festival, and Honorable Mention, Experimental Video, at the 12th Atlanta Film and Video Festival. Her many other awards include: Director’s Choice Award, Image Film and Video Festival, Atlanta; Best Bay Area Short, San Francisco International Film Festival; Making A Difference Award, Commffest Global Community Film Festival, Toronto; and Mediamaker Award, Bay Area Video Coalition, among others. Her writing has been published in books and journals including Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism; The Palgrave Handbook of Asian Cinema; Amerasia Journal, and Asian Cinema, among many others. Soe is the author of the blog (recipient of a 2012 Art Writers’ Grant, Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation), which looks at Asian and Asian American art, film, culture, and activism. Her feature documentary, LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN, was released in 2019 and has played to sold-out festival audiences across North America and in Taiwan. She currently teaches courses in Asian American film history, media production, and photography.


6. Seminar: Sacrificing Documenta 15

Speaker: Ray Langenbach (Professor, Faculty of Creative Industries; Chair, Center for Artistic Research, Tunku Abdul Rahman University, Malaysia)

This seminar discusses Documenta15 and its relationship to colonisation and decolonisation. D15 has been much analysed in the press; nevertheless, most journalists and critics ignore the unique cultural and historical forces that collided for 90 days in Kassel, Germany in 2022. The presentation attempts to connect the macro and micro forces at national and personal scale that produced the event. The contentions around Documenta15 raise important questions concerning the purpose of highly capitalised neo-liberal exhibitions that carry their national flags into cultural battle (even those that rebel against their own neoliberalism). This view of Documenta15 is technically and thematically intersectional, including photographs, video, personal anecdotes and an exegesis informed by the spectacular convergence of colonial and post-colonial histories at Kassel in 2022. It is also a product of my own complicity as an exhibiting artist, a long-term American archivist of SEAsian art and my readings of the various manifestos, declarations, press reports and critiques of the event. The contentious origins of Documenta in 1955 parallel the aftermaths of the German holocaust and Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, cold-war proxy colonialism of New Order Indonesia, Euro-American settler colonialisation of Palestine. I draw from discussions with artists and intellectuals in Europe and Asia that mapped a seemingly unbridgeable divide between the European and Asian views of 20th century colonialism and Documenta15’s demise. European, Asian, African, South and North American artist groups carried to D15 the questions that emerged from their own overlapping historical experiences as colonisers and colonised peoples: Who speaks and who listens? Who exhibits and who is displayed? Who is abjected by whom? Who experiences the pain inflicted by the Other or on the Other? Together we produced a critical post/colonial juggernaut that led to a perhaps inevitable and necessary sacrifice of the exhibition by the very historical forces and creative works it brought together.

Ray Langenbach designs conceptual performances, convenes gatherings, writes on cultural theory, performance art, moving image and queer culture in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. Exhibitions include: Whitney Museum Downtown, National Centre for the Arts Mumbai, Artspace, Sydney, Asia Pacific Triennale, Werkleitz Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Malaysia National Art Gallery, National Gallery Singapore, Kiasma, Helsinki, Future of Imagination, Asiatopia, La Cite, Paris, Cattle Depot Artists Village, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Art Centre, Park 19 Artist Village, Guangzhou, Polyphony: Southeast Asia, Nanjing University of the Arts Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, MAIIAM Museum for Contemporary Art, Chiangmai, Singapore Art Museum Asia Art Archive, Documenta15. Langenbach curates exhibitions and performance events in Malaysia, Singapore, Palestine, USA, & Germany. His writings on SE Asian performance, propaganda and art are on-line and in various journals and books. The Langenbach Moving Image archive resides at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam & various museums. Formerly Professor of Live Art and Performance Studies, University of the Arts Helsinki, Langenbach currently serves as Star Foundation Professor of Research, Faculty of Creative Industries, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Artistic Research PhD programme.


7. Seminar: Virtual Reality (VR) Iban Longhouse – The Walkthrough

Speaker: Aloysius Yapp (Assistant Professor, Department of Game Studies, Faculty of Creative Industries, Tunku Abdul Rahman University, Malaysia), Lim Chai Kim (Lecturer, Department of Game Studies, Faculty of Creative Industries, Tunku Abdul Rahman University, Malaysia), Wen-Shu Lai (Professor, Institute of Applied Arts, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University)

Virtual Reality (VR) Iban Longhouse – The Walkthrough is an innovative project that combines art, technology, video game elements, and local heritage to preserve the culture and traditions of the Iban, an indigenous tribe in Sarawak, Malaysia. The project aims to create awareness and appreciation among the younger generation on the significance of their heritage and culture.

The Iban people have traditionally lived in longhouses, which are like a village under one roof. The main characteristic of the Iban longhouse is the common area called “Ruai,” which is the indoor corridor area shared by the houses in the longhouse for public and community meetings. The design of the longhouse emphasizes the importance of community spirit among the Iban people. However, as modernization and urbanization have taken place, the traditional wooden longhouses have been converted into modern concrete longhouses. As a result, the old longhouses have slowly been abandoned and demolished.

The project recognizes the tangible and intangible values of the Iban heritage and culture and aims to preserve them for future generations. It offers an immersive experience of the Iban longhouse by combining VR technology with a guided tour. Users can experience the traditional Iban longhouse and its cultural significance, which includes the unique architectural design and communal living arrangements. The project is not just limited to preserving Iban heritage and culture; it also offers a creative and innovative approach to cultural preservation. By combining art and technology, the project brings attention to the importance of cultural preservation and the value of traditional knowledge in the modern world.

Furthermore, the project seeks to enhance the educational experience of visitors by providing a virtual educational tour of the Iban longhouse. The tour can be used to teach students about the culture and traditions of the Iban, thereby promoting cultural awareness and understanding. The project’s importance is evident in the collaboration between the Center for Immersive Technology and Creativity and the local community in Sarawak, Malaysia. The project offers a platform for cultural exchange between the Iban people and visitors to Sarawak, promoting cultural diversity and understanding.

In conclusion, the Virtual Reality (VR) Iban Longhouse – The Walkthrough project is an innovative and creative approach to cultural preservation. It offers a unique and immersive experience of the traditional Iban longhouse, highlighting its cultural significance and the importance of preserving cultural heritage. Through the project, the Iban heritage and culture will continue to be appreciated and understood by future generations, and it will serve as a platform for cultural exchange and understanding. 

Aloysius Yapp is an Assistant Professor for the Game Study Department at the Faculty of Creative Industries. Additionally, he serves as the Chairperson of the Centre for Immersive Technology and Creativity. With a focus on heritage and cultural preservation, Aloysius is passionate about utilizing immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality technology and gamification, to advance this cause. Aloysius’ research site is in Sarawak, Borneo, with a particular focus on the Betong division and Saribas District. He is involved in the field of immersive technology for education, medical sciences, virtual tourism, and virtual gallery. Aloysius is a sought-after speaker and presenter, having shared his expertise at numerous international conferences and forums. Aloysius holds a Ph.D. from the University Sains Malaysia, where he developed an interest in exploring the potential of immersive technology. His research findings have been published in academic journals and have contributed significantly to the field of game studies and immersive technology.

Lim Chai Kim is a lecturer at the Department of Game Studies, Faculty of Creative Industries, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in Sungai Long, Selangor, Malaysia. She teaches games development courses like Programming for Games and Mobile Games Development. She earned her master’s degree in computer science from the University of Science Malaysia (USM) in 2002, following her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the same institution. She is also a member of UTAR’s Centre for Immersive Technology and Creativity (CITC). One of the research projects that she is involved in is the Iban Longhouse virtual reality project. The virtual reality software and game allow the player to view the three-dimensional environment from a first-person point of view. A hunting gameplay using a blowpipe is included to engage the player in a more purposeful experience. One can view the exterior and interior of the longhouse and interact with non-player characters such as an Iban man, lady, child, and cat. In this interdisciplinary project, art and technology are used to preserve the heritage and culture of the Iban indigenous people of Sarawak.