Selamat Datang Ke Malaysia!

A friend of mine told me about a Malaysian artist called Yee I-Lann who exhibited one of her artwork in Brisbane art Gallery. The interesting part in her digital imaging artwork is the buffalo. Well, there if you travel around Malaysia, women’s health not only in Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Johor, you could see buffalo around in ‘kampung’ village area. The connection she put together between the image of PutraJaya building and a buffalo, for me is interesting as it somehow shows the different between the rural and the urban view in Malaysia. Noted that there a flag clearly hanging on the road. This is a common situation in Malaysia, if you drive through in the main cities in Malaysia, flags are everywhere.


Yee I-Lann

Roslisham Ismail make another interesting artwork, a form of collage images that could be seen in most of Malaysian printed material. He also add in words or tag-lines that been chattered everywhere in Malaysia. Images of modernity, independence, Malaysian’s icon such as twin tower and the latest is about Malaysian astronaut. Whether this is an image that are obvious in Malaysian’s eyes or an artist view of what he thinks about the identity of Malaysia.


Roslisham Ismail

“Selamat Datang ke Malaysia” is the first survey of contemporary Malaysian art exhibited in Australia by Gina Fairley. Curator Beverly Yong, of influential organising gallery Valentine Willie Fine Art says, “It plays with the idea of contemporary art as cultural expo. We ask: How would we present ourselves to the world? How are we identified? How far is our real experience… a reflection of our ambitions?”

Are we uniquely Malaysian?

Creative Commons License
A PhD investigation on comm. design contribution on Malaysian Identity by Nurul Rahman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
Based on a work at www.nurulrahman.com.

cardiologist on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nurulxavierwargny/2963412547/”>Lat merdeka

GRC Spring 2008 just passed. I think it went well. I’ve learn lot more than I thought I would from the respond of the panel and from others presentation. It’s different feeling after 6 times been through the GRC, this time I was more critical in others people comments on my research, I think I was more confident too in presenting my argument.

In my research, I’m arguing that Malaysia National Identity is a constructed Identity. But how do I relates it to Communication Design and what will be my contribution in this research, PhD? Let’s see who said what about Malaysian Identity?

Shamsul A.B, a Malaysian anthropologist in 2001 wrote an interesting paper questioning on the origin of Malay ethnic identity, the dominant ethnics in Malaysia.

“A history of identity, an identity of a history – The idea and practice of ‘malayness’ in Malaysian reconsidered” argued that the ‘Malay-Malayness’ identity is not innate as but rather learned or constructed.

As Shamsul wrote:

“In Malaysia most historians and other scholars [in the humanities] accept ‘colonial knowledge’ as the basis of Malaysian and Malay history. Moreover, they do so in what seems like an almost unproblematised manner, even though politico-academic attempts are being made to ‘indigenise’ Malaysian history and the ‘Malay’ viewpoint has been privileged. [Such attempts are admirable, and yet it is good to realise that this emphasis on the] … Malay perspective has been primarily motivated by a ‘nationalistic’ need to reinterpret history, and not by the urge to question the ways historical knowledge per se (itself) has been constructed. In Malaysia historical knowledge, a crucial element in every identity formation is still based on colonial knowledge; […]” – Shamsul AB (2001)

1957 Adds

Still that does not answer how does this argument relates to communication design. Let me take you through a journey. Most of the visual we see around us that informed and educate us are mainly from advertisements. Communication medium can be powerful sometimes. It can be seductive and provocative, it stimulate our thinking about and towards others such as issues about environment, materials that we want but might not need and etc. Communication designers work closely in this areas that connect to different communication medium. Their roles is to suggest a methods or strategy that could communicate the product, visual, information etc. to the spectators. Most of the time it visual is chosen as one of the medium to reflect to others or to attract the audience. Communication designer is a communication agent that in some ways could create a system for people to communicate and connect to each other. Some of the communication designers role are used for the purpose of selling and not communicating.

The fact that communication designers could be point out as someone who is responsible of making or delivering the selling point to other and provoke other to make action, reflect or believe. Adolf Hitler, knows and understand well the power of communication, most of all the visual language in communication. The use of colors, shape, lines, space, font type etc. are the tools that are use as a way to influence others about German status at that time. However, without strong power control visual itself could hardly work. But together it could create a sense of believe in people’s mind.

“Picture says a thousand words” is an interesting line to start with.

Comparison

Text or Visual in Advertising?

I found this text in the book called Ads, info Fads, seek and Consumer Culture by Arthur Asa Berger (2007). It’s a really useful book about advertising and in one chapter the author takes the reader step by step to analyzing advertisements (printed and television).

Have a read at this text and let me know what you think about it because I’m surprise the way the author describe the visuals (I think it is visuals artifacts).

“The things we have to realize about radio and television commercial and print advertisements (and all other forms of advertising as well) is that they are, pills aside from their commercial functions, works of popular art. Or maybe ‘commercial’ art is a more fitting term. In this chapter and the next I will focus upon print advertisements and television commercials, the two most interesting – from my point of view – kinds of a texts. I will use the term ‘text’ here for both; it is a term conventionally used in criticism nowadays to cover all form of artworks.” Berger, Asa Arthur (2007:137).

The words “text” conventionally used in criticism nowadays to cover all form of artworks? How about visual? Is this mean that the word ‘visual’ is not recognized as a language, therefore the word ‘text’ is use to describe it? May be I’m a bit unaware and not familiar with some of academic’s language but I can’t understand why the word ‘Text’ instead of ‘Visual’?

Most of Graphic Designers work with/through visual as a communication medium and not just through text. Does this mean the practice of graphic designer is not recognized instead the copy writer or the author is recognized because of the ‘text’? I’m not saying that text is not use in graphic design practices, because it does. It’s just that we used the word ‘text’ for literally the meaning of text and the word ‘visual’ for anything that have the form of images such as illustration, photograph, painting etc. Visual is another form of language and it is as powerful as text (Barthes, Lupton). Speech is another way of language that sometime can be rhetoric. I was surprise because the author takes the reader step by step analyzing the advertisements, looking at the visuals such as photograph, images, illustration, etc. and call it “text”. Is this because lack of written text, research or information about visual artefacts or graphic design artefacts? Roger and out to you!

Malaysian National Identity is a constructed identity?

I found this ads in you tube while browsing around looking for Malaysian Ads. This is an ads from Malaysian Tourism for Promotions of Visit Malaysia 50 years of Independence.

The song that is sang in this ads is called ‘Rasa Sayang Eh! ‘ which means ‘Feeling of loves’. However the meaning is more that the feeling of love, health care this song has a strong connection with construction of Malaysian National Identity. This song has been taught from kindergarten to University since Malaysian Independence.

It is a popular Malaysian song that most of the Malaysian knows how to sing it. It is very easy, information pills just the ‘Pantun’ part is a bit hard because it needs a knowledge of creating ‘Pantun’ like making rhymes, that can be anything. ‘Pantun’ is an old idioms that is use for teasing people in the olden days. Nowadays ‘Pantun’ is used in mainly Malay festive and wedding, as an introduction before the function starts.
Here are the original lyrics of this song.

Rasa Sayang Eh!
Rasa Sayang Sayang Eh!
Hey! Lihat Nona Jauh,
Rasa Sayang, Sayang Eh!

In between of this paragraph is ‘Pantun’ which is a Malay quatrains with a stanza of four lines.

Now back to the ads. In this ads, 4 main ethnic in Malaysia are used to sing the ‘Rasa Sayang’ song. Together with it, different cultural practices is projected to distinguish the cultural differences in Malaysia such as food, national dresses, nature, modernity, cultural behavior etc.. At the same time, the images of Malaysian living in harmony with happy faces is shown. The part that each ethics is singing the same song but in their own language, with the similar meaning shows that Malaysia is united with multi-ethnics. Notice that the song begins with ‘Bahasa Melayu’ Malay language, then English, followed by Chinese, Indigenous and Indian. It is follow by the percentage of the ethnics in Malaysia. The Malays is the dominant ethnic in Malaysia. Hmmm! Interesting… but why? Is it deliberately or just a coincidently?

Only recently in Malaysian ads images of indigenous people started to appear, event better their language is now been used as one of the strategies to promote Malaysia. This kind of ads is fairly new, projecting the Indigenous where else in 70’s and 80’s it is hardly seen in any Malaysian ads. Why and how does this happen in Malaysia where this images was dissolve in our past life? Why now?