Entries in architecture (8)

Friday
Oct212016

Future Landscapes

 

To a floating city built on wooden platforms supported by wooden stakes driven into the ground, I took my iPhone art printed on recycled construction wood collected from building sites.

In a city whose architectural style is a fusion of both Byzantine and Islamic forms overlaying a Latin Christian foundation, a group of artists and architects explore the concept of future landscapes. At a time when so many have had to leave their homes and cross borders, this exhibition forms part of the Borders International Art and Architecture Festival, which runs parallel to the Architecture Biennale 2016.  As a featured artist, my contribution is an investigation of the architecture of cyberspace. 

To visually express the experience of cyberspace using the tools found there, I created the series titled “Corridors of Cyberspace” entirely on my iPhone. Working with various apps, I transformed my photographs of Dubai architecture and international venues into iPhone art.

Each artwork on wood incoporates augmented reality

I have written before about bridges and bridging cyberspace and so was excited to take my art to a city with over 400 bridges.

In a city made up of many calles and canals, one gets the feeling of being in a labyrinth. Chance encounters, as those that occur in the corridors of cyberspace, are not uncommon. 

Venice captured my heart. While there I took many photographs and often posted to Instagram Stories.

I did a live iPhoneart sketch on St Mark's Square.

I went live on Facebook for the first time!

Similar to keeping a journal, I wrote up a Steller story each day I was there, and it is these stories I will now share, to perhaps give others a glimpse of my experience. 

Venice, October 2016

Monday, 3 October

Tuesday, 4 October

Wednesday, 5 October

Thursday, 6 October

(the day of the opening of the exhibition at Palazzo Ca' Zanardi)

Friday, 7 October

Saturday, 8 October

(this story was featured by Steller in their Stellerverse collection)

Sunday, 9 October

(featuring my #interact2connect artwork)

I am still processing all I experienced during this time in Venice.

Should you happen to visit Venice soon, Future Landscapes will be running until 27 November 2016. 

Thursday
May052016

Jazirat Al Hamra: A Portal in Time

 

The sun is beating down as I make my way from one building to the next. I reach into my bag for the scarf I had packed earlier that day and use this as a form of protection from the heat.

Stepping carefully in the deserted village of Jazirat al Hamra, I am aware that I have entered a special space. Although accompanied by two friends, I am soon on my own as we each go our separate ways to photograph and experience the area.

Jazirat al Hamra, translated The Red Island, is an abandoned pearling village, just 20 km to the south of Ras Al Khaimah city in the United Arab Emirates.

After the decline of the natural pearl industry, its inhabitants left between the late 60’s and the mid 70’s. Some say the inhabitants were attracted by the prospects of better living conditions being offered by the local government, others that that there were better opportunities including relocation in Abu Dhabi. Yet others cite disputes between one of the tribes and local government. Whatever the reasons, the village has remained almost unchanged since then, and is one of the few remaining areas where one can catch a glimpse of what the Gulf was like before oil was discovered.

The deserted village has three distinct styles of architecture - coral stone buildings from the first half of the last century, sand brick buildings from about 1955 onwards, as well as buildings made from concrete breeze block from the 1960s. Fascinating to behold, the deserted houses, mosques and shops evoke the imagination.

Clicking away on my iPhone, I round a corner and am suddenly stopped in my tracks. Standing before me are two women in traditional dress. Alone in this vast space, I approach them and greet them in Arabic.

We soon establish that our spoken communication is limited. I am only able to see their eyes and I cannot help but notice the openness and kindness in them. The hidden smiles shine from sparkling eyes and I gather that the one lady is there to show the other around. As she shares, I pick up the word “baba”, a term of endearment for father, and gather following her hand movements that her father and his father had lived in the village at the spot she is pointing to.

The chances of such a meeting are overwhelmingly slim and I suddenly feel I have entered a portal.

The portal in science fiction is an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travellers to distant realms or to the past or the future. This moment in Jazirat al Hamra is for me a time portal. I catch a new glimpse of the village before it was deserted, and simultaneously have the feeling that this lady is sharing memories with me not only from the past, but at the same time, memories from the future.

I have written before about a time to come when communication will be beyond words and am living it at that moment.

I hover in the past, the future and the present moment and realise it is all one. We are all one.

We eventually part ways but the two-fold memory of past and future is with me.

Back home, I begin to do further research on the village. Moving through the corridors of cyberspace, I follow one link after the other - each one somehow a portal leading me to another - until I suddenly discover one very special one. It is as if I have this time been diving in cyberspace, searching for an oyster that will yield a special pearl. Please spend some time at this wonderful discovery , as via it you can read about the village as well as watch videos on certain areas and even listen to a former pearl diver speaking!

Time Portal

I have created this piece on my iPhone to remind me of this day and all it brought and led to. Currently, I am imagining it being possibly printed onto rusted steel.

Memory

As I worked on this second artwork, I wished to create a sense of a special story being woven in time, and hence incorporated what could be seen as a tapestry or carpet like effect. I considered calling it “Time Tapestry” but eventually decided on “Memory”.

This piece also came into being at a time when I was reading up more about asemic writing.

"Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content”. With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret….. The open nature of asemic works allows for meaning to occur trans-linguistically; an asemic text may be "read" in a similar fashion regardless of the reader's natural language." - Wikipedia
"Asemic writing offers meaning by way of aesthetic intuition, and not by verbal expression." - Michael Jacobson in his article "On Asemic Writing"

When I met the two women, we were conversing despite a lack of understanding of the words being used. In fact, we had been conversing beyond words. We had communicated with gestures, smiles and eyes, but more especially with our hearts.

With all of this in mind, I allowed myself to sense the energy I had experienced that day, and then simply left my fingers to move across my iPhone screen. The first of my asemic artworks had come into being in an attempt to share the beauty of that moment, the meeting with the women, and our shared humanity.

Thursday
Mar202014

Faig Ahmed: Weaving a Wonderful Tale

Art Week in Dubai is in full swing.  Gallery openings, design days, art fairs, art nights, workshops and enchanting exhibitions and installations have captured viewers and art lovers from all over the world.

Many have immersed themselves in the experience and through this have formed wonderful new relationships with friends and artists. I personally have met people from all over the world that I had only known before through social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.  Together we have attended events and shared stories, thereby getting to  know a little bit more about each other and about other cultures.

The stories we have shared with each other have further helped to weave the wonderful tale of interconnection and shared humanity that is slowly making itself heard today.   They have helped us to let go of stereotypes and question existing boundaries. 

One installation during Art Week captured my attention the minute I heard about it via social media. @cuadroart, the Instagram account for the Cuado Art Gallery, posted a picture with the caption, 

“Faig Ahmed’s yarn threads have started to stretch out of Cuadro and into the balconies of the neighboring buildings in the DIFC Gate Village” 

Faig Ahmed is from Baku, Azerbaijan. Currently he is exploring carpets, weaving digital patterns with the conventional recurring patterns to create bold optical illusions.  Faig states that “Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.”

Faig works are currently “an instantaneous expression” and he believes that in today’s world, “ideas that have been formed for ages are being changed in moments”.

One online article by a blogger called Will had this to say about Faig Ahmed’s work:

“Carpets are often regarded as an indestructible icon of the East, and a deeply respected item in many households used for visual and decorative means.  Faig’s work alters these standard stereotypes and creates new boundaries with a fresh outcome.” 

In his current installation, Faig takes this two-dimensional craft and by stretching elements of his work into space, takes it into a third dimension. As I read all of this, the tale became more captivating, and like a reader caught up in a gripping storyline, I was being drawn into this wonderful web. 

The DIFC is one of my favorite places to photograph in Dubai.  That the installation involved buildings was a bonus. 

I love taking photographs of buildings and presenting them in such a way that the viewer is encouraged to take on a new perspective.  We are so caught up in the beliefs and traditions of our respective cultures, that it is not always easy to see things from a different perspective.  Through my mobile photography I attempt to introduce this concept visually, both by not using a traditional camera and through my images.   

The evolving installation that met me in the Gate Village did not disappoint me.

As I began to capture my impressions of the installation as it unfolded, I realized the story being woven was almost interactive, with personal impressions being woven into the threads by its viewers. 

The installation has a dynamic movement and it excited me to see the buildings being joined in a way that made them look as if they were reaching out to each other, sharing stories and sharing the space they were in more intimately than before. This so tied in with my recent blog in which I received a tweet from a tower. 

My love of architecture and my passion for promoting interconnection through here2here  were being represented visually in a form I had not imagined before. 

When a couple met and hugged underneath Faig’s installation, another chapter in the tale was complete. 

As the story of the installation unfolded on Instagram it was gaining yet another dimension, this time in cyberspace.  

There was mention of “His palette of colorful yarns” and the viewer was informed that “Scaffolding keeps getting higher and higher as he works yarn from the gallery walls out the window and all the way up to the roof.”

While preparing this piece I came across an ancient metaphor:

“thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns - but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver.”

A weaver of a wonderful tale had arrived in my world and I determined to meet him at Art Nights. Patiently waiting my turn I noticed his open engagement with others.  I was able to show him some of the photos I had taken and see his delight when he saw the couple hugging under his work. 

As mentioned earlier, I was present with Igers from all over the world at Art Nights, our online connections having overflowed into physical space, just as Faig’s yarns had moved from inside the gallery to the neighbouring rooftops outside. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery spoke about “a mesh into which relationships are tied” and this was probably what Tim Berner-Lee had in mind when he created the term “World Wide Web” in 1989.

As we make our way through cyberspace, let us remember the importance of relationships. 

The complex membrane of information, called the noosphere by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, that is currently enveloping the globe is fueled by human consciousness.  Each tweet we send, each instagram pic we post or every facebook update we make, is a thread that can add to the beauty of the unfolding carpet of life. As we encounter others online in here2here space, let us treat them with respect as we listen deeply to what they share. As we collaborate with others, let us remember that we have more similarities than differences. 

We are threads in a wonderful tale, but we are also the weavers. 

Tuesday
Apr022013

The City Within

Walking through the Dubai Mall my attention was captured by an exhibit in the entrance of Bloomingdale’s Home. Upon entering I immediately felt as if I had entered another realm. Soaking up the space I attempted to capture aspects of the work on my camera roll.

I discovered that Bloomingdales’s Home is hosting a Design Days Dubai offsite installation until 16 April 2013.  The entrance has been transformed into an interactive work of art entitled “City Within”, by Antonio Pio Saracino

To quote the pamphlet which accompanies the exhibition:

“Composed of multiple hanging lightweight translucent polycarbonate sheets that create the shape of a box and convey the idea of an ephemeral city versus the physical city: this is the metaphor of the contemporary digital city that is not made with tangible space.  The empty space inside the installation is originated from carving out the shape of a dimensional city landscape”.

This resonated so deeply with much of what I attempt to share on my website here2here that I have returned on more than one occasion to enter the space. 

What fascinated me about the installation was the fact that the artist had carved out the shape of a dimensional city landscape to create the “City Within". He had created a physical landscape and a mental one which therefore enabled me to enter it with my body and my senses. 

The installation also confirmed that although the digital city is experienced, it nevertheless has its own architecture. As was the case in this work of art, existing architectural forms are often reference points for the indescribable characteristics of this city within. My writings often use arches and corridors when I refer to cyberspace and my iphoneography art is created using technology and photos of architecture. 

In my last blog post I looked at cyborgs, and so I was encouraged to read how architect, designer and artist Antonio Pio Saracino is creating visually poetic forms that encourage dialogue on the role of technology in our lived environment

"Technology is like a second ‘skin’ that we wear on to extend our bodies in order to re-imagine new behaviors and to enhance our memory and senses. It is increasingly central to human civilization and in my profession technology is an advanced tool used to re-imagine design and the world we live in. In my everyday life, I believe you have to know when to turn technology on and wear it and when to turn it off." The Ecstatic Design of Antonio Pio Saracino

"My work however also highlights some aspects that will never be affected by technology, in particular the quest for the most important things: sensitivity, poetry, our feelings. This is why I do not try to glorify or stigmatise technology, but rather to create emotion-provoking objects capable of representing the values associated with the product." Interview with Antonio Pio Saracino

Dialogue on the role of technology in our lives is essential. The recent conference, Wisdom2.0, is just one example of the advances being made in this dialogue. 

"The City Within" from "Corridorsofcyberspace"

Architecture is a response to physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It also reflects the way humans see themselves at a particular point in time. 

In the Baroque age, for example, the Baroque ideal was to represent emotional states of being. In Baroque art, scenes flow into each other and seemingly into the space of the viewer, who determines the centre of the spectacle at that moment. 

In cyberspace, we are able to enter streams of words, sounds and images and we choose what to focus on. The centre is constantly shifting. In the current transformation age cyberspace is in many ways baroque like as we attempt to portray the senses through technology. 

Saracino understands this. His keen insight into the need that exists in this age to experience rather than simply cognitively comprehend, has led to Saracino being involved in designs such as a recent one in midtown Manhattan where tweets were displayed on the interactive art installation in order raise awareness of HIV/AIDS

Living between Rome and New York, Saracino has experienced cross-cultural contamination. An architect, designer and artist, he cuts across disciplines. I am delighted to have discovered his work.  

Cyberspace or here2here, is definitely a city within. Every time we communicate by means of technology we enter this mental space. May we do so responsibly as we realize that we are co-creators, co-designers, co-architects and therefore co-artists of this special we-space. 

Wednesday
Oct102012

3-2-1 HOMEwork

A discussion this week with a dear friend, reminded me of an article I once posted on my blog at Integral Life. It was about how our homes reflect and influence our inner lives.

I have made a few adjustments to the original article and am reposting it here on my website: 

Homes reflect and influence our inner lives.  Taken further, our homes also reflect and influence our behavior, our culture and the society we live in. 

Becoming mindful of the fact that one’s choice of home – its location, architecture and decor, is a reflection of one’s inner landscape, can be most useful when doing shadow work.

Clare Cooper Marcus points out that many of the preferences and dislikes in our homes are projections from the unconscious.  “As with dreams, we can live our lives ignoring them”, Cooper Marcus reflects. “But if we care about personal and spiritual growth, becoming who we truly are, the messages implicit in the dwelling – its form, location, decoration and state of order – and our feelings about those messages can be rich sources of insight.”

Cooper Marcus suggests jotting down images, words and feelings about your home (home in the 3rd person) and then speaking to your home and letting it speak back to you (home in the 2nd person). Ask it questions and listen to its answers. Tell it things and listen for its response. 

I would propose taking this one step further by lastly speaking as the home (home in the 1st person). Take what you heard the home saying and say it as if you are the home.  This way you will hear yourself saying things about yourself and this will complete the process I have called 3-2-1 HOMEwork. 

Doing this HOMEwork provides useful insight not only into one’s current state of being but also into those aspects of the shadow that need to be embraced. 

It is not uncommon for people doing this exercise to only focus on the aspects of their home they find bothersome. Remember too, to look for those things that you like about your home.  We often need to remind ourselves that the shadow is made up not only of those things about ourselves that we don’t necessarily like and haven’t accepted yet, but also many wonderful aspects of ourselves that we have yet to acknowledge.

3-2-1 HOMEwork  also makes us aware of how a change in surroundings can help us bring about the changes necessary for growth.

Architects over the centuries have been aware of the fact that our spiritual paths can be encouraged by the surroundings we find ourselves in.  The need to reconcile humans with nature, reflected in the architecture of Hundertwasser (who incidentally was fascinated by spirals) is but one example of this.

The home and its location can and does help to foster growth and change.  One need only think of those inner city areas where a general cleaning up, the planting of trees and the creating of gardens has taken place.  Statistics have shown that such areas have a significant drop in crime rate over a period of time.

The magnificent steel and glass construction of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof train station is an examplar of the need for transparency.  And yet even in such a mammoth construction, the fact that the glass roofs had to be shortened by approximately 100 metres because the construction process was taking too long, shows how time constraints can detract from the original plan.  How often is this not an excuse, and maybe a valid one, in our own homes and lives? But more than that, how often are we mindful of this fact?

Doing 3-2-1 HOMEwork has many benefits.  I believe that this process can also prove to be a useful tool for businesses wanting to redesign the working environment of their employees. 

So are you ready to move around your furniture? Or maybe its time for new furniture or even a new location!

Bibliography

Cooper Marcus, Clare. (1995). House as a Mirror of Self. Conari Press.

Fairall Morrell, Monica. “Home: A Mirror of Inner Being”. Natural Medicine Issue 44, December 2008/January 2009.   www.naturalmedicine.co.za 

Gympel, Jan. (1996). The Story of Architecture. From Antiquity to the Present. KönemannVerlagsgesellschaft mbH.