Chula Launches FAAMAI Digital Arts Hub

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Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA) has announced the online launch of its groundbreaking FAAMAI Digital Arts Hub with a new online video on the program, a digital art competition and the commissioning of digital artworks for the international launch of the project in early 2021.

In addition, construction has begun on a state-of-the-art Digital Arts Lab, located at the faculty, and which is slated for completion in January 2021.

FAAMAI, which means ‘Fine and Applied Arts Multidisciplinary Art Innovation Programme’, is the result of a collaboration between FAA, Property Management of Chulalongkorn University (PMCU) and Pico (Thailand) PCL, an experiential marketing company.

The central facility for this collaborative project is the FAAMAI Dome, a geodesic dome designed for digital art presentations, exhibitions, workshops and therapeutic sessions; at 35 meters in diameter and 17.5 meters in height, the FAAMAI dome is the largest of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.

Director of the FAAMAI project, Janat Thiengsurin noted that digital media currently plays an important role in everybody’s life and is a global phenomenon. Mr Thiengsurin said that the field of digital arts is growing exponentially and there is plenty of scope for developing digital arts, especially for interdisciplinary productions.

It is hoped that the FAAMAI will not only encourage local digital artists but also contribute to the development of the economy.

The Digital Content Association of Thailand (DCAT) claims that the market value of digital content in Thailand is worth about 25,000 million Baht (US$833 million).

The soft launch of FAAMAI, which included press conferences and a dome site tour for Thai-language and Japanese-language journalists, coincided with a local initiative to support art galleries and cultural institutions in the districts that surround and include the university’s campus.

Pathumwan Art Routes (PARs) is an initiative created by Jim Thompson House Museum and the Bangkok Art and Culture Center to alert Thai tourists and foreigners living in Thailand to tourist attractions that combine contemporary art, community ways of life and the rich cultural diversity of food.

The PARs project, which runs through to the end of December 2020, includes Jim Thompson House Museum, Yelo House, JWD Art Space, CU Art4C (FAA’s custom art and creative learning facility), PMCU and Chulalongkorn University Office of Art and Culture, all of which are located in the Pathumwan area. Also joining PARs is the old community of Ban Krua, which is the site of the original Jim Thompson silk weavers and is famous for its lively street food scene.

A specially created digital sound exhibition called “Sum Eud Viek?” was created for the PARs opening and the FAAMAI online launch – the title means “Are You Free?” and is a tease for teenagers in Isan, Thailand’s Northeast region. A live performance of Isan folk music mixed with found sounds and mixed media by Dr Danuchate Wisaijorn (of the faculty’s Department of Music) and Warong Boonaree celebrated both the opening day of PARs and the launch of FAAMAI.

FAAMAI Director Thiengsurin said that Professor Mickey Remann, a professor of Immersive Media at Bauhaus-Universitaet in Germany; and the initiator and director of the FullDome Festival at Zeiss-Planetarium Jena, has been commissioned to create an immersive media artwork for the official launch next year. Professor Remann is also the creator of the ‘liquid sound’ concept and installation. Director Thiengsurin said that further collaborations between international and local Thai artists were in the works as well.

In addition to artworks on display inside the FAAMAI dome, a new project is taking shape in the area surrounding the dome:  Day/Night Art Park. In consultation with the local communities in Samyan, Centenary park and Suan Luan Square, artists, including many fine art lecturers from across the country and five national artists, will design and create unique pollution-free, solar-powered installations and sculptures that will glow in the dark, create sounds and be viewable via blue-tooth technology.

Dr Sirithorn Srichalakorn said that sponsorship for solar power and PM2.5 pollution sensors has been secured and a team from the Ministry of Culture will visit the dome and facilities. She expects construction of the 15 artworks to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and the Day Night Park will be launched in June 2021.

To encourage participation in the launch of FAAMAI Digital Arts Hub, the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts has launched a coding competition: FAAMAI 360 Mapping Competition. The competition, under the theme ‘New World’, will present and showcase the potential of immersive media, interactive art and science in a unique setting (FAAMAI Dome).

Students, media artists, visualizers, music creators, multidisciplinary artists and researchers, and teams under 25 years of age can enter this exciting international competition. This is the first time a Projection Mapping contest displaying video on a 360 Dome has ever been held in Thailand. International contestants are encouraged to apply. Professor Remann is one of the judges of the competition.

The competition places the FAAMAI Digital Arts Hub at the forefront of digital art creativity – local and international artists will compete to enable the transformation of the Samyan district, in which the FAAMAI Dome is located, into the Kingdom’s first Digital Arts District.