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Harnessing the Metaverse to Showcase Tradition

Image credits: kku.ac.th

Khon Kaen University, the oldest and largest university in northern Thailand, had virtually has embarked on a virtual transformation to honour and celebrate the rich heritage of Molam culture. The initiative by the public research university in Khon Kaen aims to provide a new learning zone where everyone can tour the Molam world through the Metaverse.

By leveraging technology, Khon Kaen successfully made culture education more inclusive and accessible. Users can reach the learning resources of Molam cultural capital from anywhere and anytime.

Molam is a traditional folk music and dance style that originated in the northeastern region of Thailand, known as Isan. It is an integral part of the Isan culture and often reflects the local people’s daily life, struggles, and joys. Molam performances typically feature energetic singing accompanied by various traditional musical instruments and dynamic dance movements. Over the years, Molam has gained recognition and popularity in Thailand and internationally, representing the unique cultural heritage of the Isan region.

The Molam Metaverse represents a digital breakthrough originating from the cultural hub, providing an accessible gateway for both newcomers and enthusiasts of Molam. Extensive research has been conducted, specifically focusing on exploring group Molam performances and Molam poetic narratives within the virtual realm.

Molam World is divided into two zones. The first zone is a central hall where the audience can observe the Molam stage. Upon entering this zone, avatars who are unfamiliar with Molam will experience a virtual projection of the authentic Molam world. The second zone is an exhibition area that provides knowledge about Molam. Avatars in this zone will have the opportunity to experience Molam by engaging in lively dance movements.

The Molam Metaverse zone has the capability to link with the Cultural Map platform, which serves as a network for the Supply Chain involved in the Molam Cluster’ Cluster’s business activities. This integration will play a significant role in promoting and enhancing the visibility of Molam. It will not only become a source of learning and education, but it can also enhance business-related endeavours.

For example, the Molam Metaverse has the potential to offer significant exposure to artists, benefiting both Molam enterprises and the talented individuals who contribute to this vibrant art form. Moreover, its recognition and support by the government can empower and inspire a new generation of artists, leading to the creation of extraordinary artistic masterpieces and fostering a promising era for emerging talents.

The concept of Molam Metaverse originated from a question posed by Assistant Prof Sirisak Laichankham, PhD, the Project Head. Considering the rise of the digital society and the influence of the Metaverse, he wondered how Molam could enter the virtual realm. This query sparked the development of Molam Metaverse, aiming to integrate the traditional Molam culture with the digital world.

Laichankam ‘s objective was to merge technology and culture in order to foster inclusivity and introduce the rich Molam culture to a broader audience. Initially, he has some concerns about the viability and feasibility of the project. However, as his main intention was to experiment and test it out, he went ahead.

“We did not know what the result would be, but we just tried the experiment,” Laichankam said. “We wanted to use this platform to help us form new concepts and innovations that will drive Molam into the digital age.”

In the future, when new technologies emerge, the Molam Metaverse can be extended to encompass other activities. It is truly enhancing the use of modern digital tools for Molam entrepreneurs and, at the same time building new experiences for the user group and enlarging the customer base who are the audience of Molam both in the country and abroad, especially the group not knowing about Molam before.

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