When it was first founded, MulaZine was – at least to me – an homage to what Malaysia used to be. I admit, my head has been stuck in the clouds and to me, the nostalgia of the 70s through the 90s was one I found deep comfort in. I don’t know if the general public knows the story of how MulaZine came to be, so, here’s me telling you how it came about. It began in my second year of university when I was prompted by an assignment to begin a project that acted as a photo diary and could capture the essence of a specific time period. One thing that I am very thankful for was enough knowledge and history of the specific time period in KL where liberalism was celebrated with openness. This was a period that was followed through after the war – the sweet spot that Malaysia existed in which we lived in a state of peace and acceptance with one another after the years of tumult. Or at least some semblance of peace in that time.
Learning of these moments in time from my grandparents, my own parents, from the years of media consumption in my youth and visits to the library, I began MulaZine as an homage to all things retro and that needed recognizing. It began with archival pictures from the 80s – depicting the city, television, stills from films, and pictures of pages taken out of magazines that have been preserved in the library that I held so dearly. This is the thesis in which MulaZine operates – a celebration of freedom of the past, one we… I, so desperately seek to be reflected in this modern world. It was with little knowledge that I realized only years later that Malaysia Time Tunnel was a pioneer in the representation, preservation, and immortalization of the glory days of what Malaysia was, and one that we are all striving towards. In an ironic mode of function, regressing seems like the way to go.
I decided on doing this interview with them to take a peek at the anonymous individuals running the show from behind the curtain. Like their contemporary digital photo diarist, Kuala Lumpur Ceria, who we recently re-interviewed, the admins of Malaysia Time Tunnel have chosen to remain anonymous. When prompted on their choice in doing so, the creator of the account stated that managing the account in this manner was not to gain notoriety, but rather to connect with individuals who share a similar ardor to nostalgia and the content that allows for individuals to emote to one another. “Staying anonymous has also allowed us the freedom to post content in any shape or form and leaves us out of the cloud of a consumers’ judgment”. Explicating that they vocalize certain issues using Instagram Stories, certain demographics do not take to accepting varying opinions, especially if they happen to be political. “We intend to stay anonymous”.
Showcasing a plethora of historical snapshots of the past, Malaysia Time Tunnel is a realization of what I like to consider a necessary dose of nostalgia. Turning their interests into a reality through photo diary as a medium, the creator of MTT shares that the reason behind its formation was related to the owner’s interests in history. They state, “though I thoroughly enjoyed history as a subject in school, that did not reflect itself in my SPM results”. Having heard stories of the golden days – cause let’s face the reality of things, we yearn for the past because humans never learn, and change is always difficult (only applies in the good old days concept here) – and intended of playing the same role their grandparents did. “I wanted to draw in audiences and to do that, I constructed short captions and stories about the pictures I was posted. These moments allowed audience members to grasp the story being given to them in a fun and interesting way. This was all happening while the team and I got to share many moments with a large audience honoring the past”.
Managing the page alongside their full-time employment, the admin states that source material was and remains to be heavily abundant online. Though the content was available, the admin shares that validating the images and stories has been an issue. MTT shares that on some occasions, certain photos that we uploaded did not align historically and had to be altered. “We take these moments as an opportunity to grow and learn. Understandably, people make mistakes, and we want to show our audiences that this can happen and how one can learn from them. After all, the retelling of history has many variations, and we want to explore and verbalize the right one”. Having posted pictures ranging from olden-day adverts, storefront shots of old school sundry stores and pictures of Malaysian icons, the curators of MTT are now pivoting their focus back towards the education of the past and growing the brand’s awareness. Keen on working with artists and creatives in Malaysia, MTT is open to creating art and merchandise that is significant to the brand and acts as a mouthpiece to their vision. As of now, MTT ends the interview hoping that they are able to “touch the hearts of Malaysians out there with our content”.
Featured Image Credit: Source: Magnum Photos – Ian Berry