Pathompong Manakitsomboon

b. 1983 Pathompong Manakitsomboon is an independent curator, researcher, producer and lecturer working in the Media Arts and Design Department at Chiang Mai University. His work is interdisciplinary and spans practices of curation, research, performance, and education. 

In this interview, Pathompong talks about his childhood, curatorial beginnings, workshops and collectives, his studies and future projects he wishes to pursue. 


  1. Introductions
  2. Childhood in Bangkok
  3. Meeting with British Sub-Culture and the Moving Image
  4. The Influence of Tropical Malady (2004) and Experimental Filmmaking
  5. Curatorial Beginnings
  6. Bangkok Experimental Film Festival and the Exploring of Home Cinema
  7. Studying Film Curation at Birkbeck University of London
  8. Coming Back to Bangkok and Chiang Mai
  9. Space and the City
  10. The Cultural Centre of Chiang Mai
  11. The Idea of a Regional, Southeast Asian Cinema
  12. The Importance of Workshops
  13. Kick the Machine Collective 
01 Introductions.m4a

1. Introductions. 

Pathompong introduces himself and his nickname: Big. He speaks about where he is from, his connections to Chiang Mai, where he was born, and to Bangkok, describing himself as a 'Bangkok boy'. 


02 Childhood in Bangkok.m4a

2. Childhood in Bangkok. 

Asked to describe his early childhood in Bangkok, Pathompong talks about the different areas of the city he lived in. As Pathompong moved a lot during his childhood, he experienced various parts of the city and schools.  
03 Meeting with British Sub-Culture and the Moving Image.m4a

3. Meeting with British Sub-Culture and the Moving Image.

Pathompong describes the significant impact the British sub-culture had on him and names a few of his favourite bands, such as Orange Juice, Joy Division, Factory Records, and The Wick. Another critical influence Pathompong points out is the work of John Cage. Given his strong interest in music, Pathompong first wanted to become a musician. Surprisingly, having studied environmental sciences and engineering, Pathompong was not interested in film as a child. However, in his first and second years at Thammasat University, Pathompong got involved with a film club called Film Virus and reveals that he also watched at least five films a day together with rigorous self-teaching about art, philosophy, and film.  
04 The Influence of Tropical Malady and Experimental Filmmaking.m4a

4. The Influence of Tropical Malady (2004) and Experimental Filmmaking.

The film that changed his life, as Pathompong says, was Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2004). Seeing the film in a Bangkok cinema was a spectacular, immersive, and sensory experience for him. It changed Pathompong's perception of cinema forever and motivated him to pursue a film and video art curation career. Pathompong also speaks about how he explored more experimental films through online platforms or by buying pirated DVDs. Viewing these, as Pathompong states, was crucial for his education in film aesthetics and learning English.  
05 Curatorial Beginnings.m4a

5. Curatorial Beginnings.

Pathompong’s experience of curatorial practices for the Film Virus at Thammasat University exposed him to the practice of research and the creation of themed programmes. It helped him to become a curator of the Bangkok World Film Festival. While at the Bangkok World Film Festival, Pathompong wanted to take the festival further and include more independent filmmaking; he describes the first programmes he created and what shaped his selection process. 
06 Bangkok Experimental Film Festival.m4a

6.  Bangkok Experimental Film Festival and the Exploring of Home Cinema.

After his experience at the Bangkok World Film Festival in 2010, Pathompong decided to work for the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival. Pathompong did a lot of research in the Thai film archive for his programmes, where he explored amateur filmmaking practices and watched more than one hundred films. Shot on Super 8 and 16 mm, Pathompong sees home cinema as ‘unexpected experimental filmmaking’. He describes one example; a film called the Fashion Show.  
07 Studying Curation at Birkbeck University in London.m4a

7. Studying Film Curation at Birkbeck University of London.

Having experienced curation at Thai film festivals, Pathompong wanted to gain academic education in film curation. In 2010, he started looking for a suitable course and found Birkbeck University, which offered a course in film curation. Pathompong describes the enriching and almost overwhelming experience of studying in London, learning both from class discussions and the rich film culture in London. When attending Birkbeck, Pathompong met several influential lecturers, one of them being Laura Mulvey, who, as he says, was very kind to him, helped him in improving his academic writing, and led him to a work placement at LUX Scotland and at Central Saint Martins to work with the British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection (BAFVSC). Pathompong talks about the things he learned, not only curation or archiving practices but also skills such as management. 
08 Coming back to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.m4a

8. Coming Back to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Pathompong talks about his return to Bangkok from London. He describes his reluctance and how different Bangkok is compared to London and reveals his motivation to organise screenings, exhibitions, and workshops in Chiang Mai. In doing to, Pathompong hopes to de-centralise Bangkok as a centre of culture and expand the art collectives in Chiang Mai. He talks about the history and current actions of the Chiang Mai collective, now called the Aesthetics of Error. Asked to say more about the idea of a collective, Pathompong describes how all members complement each other and bring specific knowledge from their discipline. He also talks about the types of audiences their events of expanded cinema attract and their workshops focusing on cameraless filmmaking, exploring the juxtaposition between celluloid and digital media through the Tactile Visions project.

The Chiang Mai Collective [source]

09 Space and the City.m4a

9. Space and the City.

While Pathompong felt reluctant to stay in Bangkok upon his return from London, he felt compelled to explore Chiang Mai. Partially motivated by an offer to become a full-time lecturer at Chiang Mai University, Pathompong came to appreciate the unique atmosphere of Chiang Mai. Although a fragmented space, Chiang Mai houses a lot of different art collectives, and Pathompong expresses his ambition to provide more stimulating events to create a learning environment for his and future students of art and the moving image. 
10 The Cultural Centre of Chiang Mai.m4a

10. The Cultural Centre of Chiang Mai.

Pathompong describes the area around Chiang Mai University as the cultural and artistic hub of the city. Occupied by many students and artists and housing many galleries, the area around the university is where many events take place and attract audiences from beyond the city. Given Pathompong's ambition to organise more cultural events, securing funding from the organisations such as the Japan Foundation is crucial, as he states.  
11 The Idea of Regional, Southeast Asian Cinema.m4a

11. The Idea of a Regional, Southeast Asian Cinema.

Asked to provide his perspective on the idea of Southeast Asian cinema as a regional cinema, Pathompong points out a few topics Southeast Asian filmmaking explores, such as animism and digital shamanism. In Thailand, as Pathompong describes, many people and artists believe in the supernatural.  
12 The Importance of Workshops.m4a

12. The Importance of Workshops.

In Chiang Mai, organising a workshop creates an educational space for people, as Pathompong describes, offering theoretical and practical skills. The concept of expanded cinema and performance is new in the area Pathompong works with. He describes the blurring of different media and the multisensory experiences of the audiences of expanded cinema. 

Kick the Machine Collective [source]

13 Kick the Machine Collective.m4a

13. Kick the Machine Collective. 

Pathompong talks about the inspiration for founding the Kick the Machine collective, which organises screenings, workshops, and discussions. There are students, art practitioners, and local people in the audience of Kick the Machine screenings. Prompted to speak about the impetus of Kick the Machine collective, Pathompong describes his plans for a future exhibition presenting artists' engagement with the technology of everyday life. Alongside exhibiting works, however, Pathompong sees discussion as a crucial part of his curatorial programmes engaging with multiple media.