USM alumni create animatronic puppets

USM alumni create animatronic puppets

GEORGE TOWN: Ahnaf Hakimi Ahmad, 33, an alumnus of the School of Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), did not want the art of wayang kulit heritage to be swallowed up by time to come up with ideas and innovations to develop animatronic wayang kulit (WKA).

The graduate with a bachelor of Fine Arts (2015) and a Master of Multimedia Instruction (2018) said, WKA is a puppet-specific project with a combination of robotic technology and puppetry performance art, the first to be produced in the country.

According to him, the way WKA is performed is the same as traditional wayang kulit but what differentiates it is that WKA is fully operated robotic without having to involve the physical presence of wayang kulit players including masterminds, musicians, crews and so on.

Ahnaf Hakimi said, the idea to produce WKA started when there was a lack of wayang kulit performances nowadays.

“In the success of a wayang kulit show, financial capital is required for the costs involved including the payment of wages to the Tok Dalang, musicians, crew and other individuals involved.

“I feel that apart from innovating, WKA can also be a medium towards reducing the cost of performances, which is one of the factors behind the lack of traditional wayang kulit performances performed today.

“If the cost can be reduced, wayang kulit performances can be done more often,” he said, who has skills in multimedia and robotics.

Commenting further on WKA, Ahnaf Hakimi admitted that the project started from an idea and was fully successful by him.

He said, starting from mechanical design, computer systems and programming, I did it myself with the available experience.

He explained that, in terms of wayang kulit character design, it was produced by yaya-okita (comic artist) and also audio using the services of Wak Long Music & Art Center with the mastermind, Mursyid Md Hussein, who is also a USM alumnus.

“The production of WKA is done with great care as it requires research, observation, design development and even carpentry work.

“All of this requires a high level of dedication because this process requires high durability and repeatability to ensure the quality of wayang kulit performances when played,” he said.

Ahnaf Hakimi stressed that he was confident that his initiative could give a wide impact, especially in attracting the interest of the current generation to know and appreciate the art of puppetry.

“With the WKA, visitors can see, recognize, feel and learn the robotic movements and automatic control systems developed in WKA.

“It can to some extent provide exposure to the importance of revolution in ensuring the survival of age -old cultural heritage arts can be passed down from generation to generation.

“I also hope that today’s young generation can preserve this invaluable artistic heritage. Apart from that, the design of this WKA can attract their interest in venturing into robotics technology that can be applied in various things in this day and age, ”he said.

Wayang Kulit Animatronik was first exhibited at the Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Gallery, USM and it is open to all visitors until the end of next July.

source – Sinar Harian

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