U-Wei’s Hanyut… Crossing Witnesses

Videographer: Fadhil Kamaluddin of theloft.my | edited by the author

Prepping for a shoot with a studio camera in another studio utilising the wet plate Collodion method was almost literally moving an entire house! Nonetheless, missing out any tools; from them smallest of pouring cup, to the choices of lenses, could handicap the process! Though, it was helpful to maintain a good on-field list to begin with, as it was necessary.


I was fortunate and thankful that an old colleague of mine, En. Fadhil, own a fabulous studio in Shah Alam, which currently runs as a boutique as well, had opened his door and allowed me to set-up for a shoot. The interior was quaint and fitted well with amnesties that all studio aspires to be.

Like most practitioners, the concern was more towards whether if the lightings are in proper amount of illumination, if the chemicals are behaving well, the adjustments of the camera (which weights a ton).


Everything went as planned and it took a few hours to set up, composed the workflow around the studio, and tested the chemicals. And we did a couple of plates of the studio owners, in which I was quite pleased with the results.



The purpose of this image-making session was to prepare a few pieces for a group exhibition over at the Petronas Galeri, which curated under U-Wei based on his latest film, “Hanyut”. I had the privilege to have had watched this film over in London, and again during his private screening last month. The exhibition; “Wayang U-Wei Hanyut – Merentasi Saksi” (which I believe it translates as U-Wei’s ‘Hanyut’ Film – Crossing Witnesses), will be up from the 20th December to 12th February 2017.



Work Statement

The moment taken of their likenesses in front of my camera were never a ‘snapshot’, as they were done in the brightest of lights, in which revealed and pushed the personal comfort and straining away their conscious ideal self and pushed themselves to be moulded into the characters which I believed to be the essence of U-Wei’s choice of these actors & actresses in his latest film, ‘Hanyut’.

I recalled of a colleague of mine, Sean Hawkey, and artist and brother at arms of the same craft, mentioned that making these plates utilising this process records the information as much as the time it took to materialise the plates, equal to a brief video*.

In my own opinion, I believed there are many intricate details that goes into the rendered likeness. Any image-maker utilises these sort of large format cameras will see the inverted rendered image on the ground glass and there is the expectation in tearing that portion and embed it onto the plate.

The switch between seeing it on the ground glass into the plate within the tray still amazes me as it was detailed not by the manner, but the expectations that grew soon as the image reveals itself.

I believe that this working project within this process (the Wet Plate Collodion) revealed parts of U-Wei’s thought process when he was seeking the characters for his masterpiece. The characters chosen were not determined by the facade of how they would look like in a costume, but it was the imbued spirit within the likeness seen here.

* “A ten second exposure records as much of a person as a ten second video. Although it’s a still, I think you can see that more is captured in the image. The results are typically soulful, intense, revealing portraits”

Sean Hawkey, 2016


Thank you U-Wei, Sabri Yunus, Anwar Idris, Aida Ileani Ross, Morne Hashim for being there in making this happen. Certainly I thank Fadhil & Farah for opening their doors to their studio in making this event happens and will work alongside with the both of you in near future. Last but never, ever least would be of my family; Anis my beloved wife and both of my children, Amelie & Adam, for being there with me always.



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