Entries in communication (6)


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.


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.




Let's commune iCate
^_^ my way
Catch the sound
Hid den in the let hers
Hold onto the stories
Captured in the pictures
Swirl~ ~ ~ ~ing
Twirl~ ~ ~ ~ing
Across these waves
2 ea other
~~~~~~~ like the colors
On a spinning top

Til there is only One


Trend Blue

Blue perches on the edge of her cybermobile, races down the information highway, turns the corner, and then barely screeches to a halt before shooting off again.

Accustomed in her youth to sitting still , then later travelling on horseback, ships or aeroplanes,  this kind of travel is exciting to her and she has taken to it like a duck takes to water. 

At last she has come of age and is no longer limited by the confines of distance and time. A thrill of excitement ripples through her at the very thought of the avenues of opportunity that have opened to her.

Now at last she can shout out from the rooftops and be heard by others instantaneously. 

Blue, by another name, is Communication, and in the current age has a voice unheard-of before.  Aided by technology and most importantly social media, Blue is the newly acquired voice of the collective.

Never before has the collective been so able to participate in bringing about change despite the many unhealthy structures still existing in some parts of society. The collective has in a sense, truly found its voice.

The collective has widened its embrace and individuals willing to open themselves to new perspectives and different world views, find themselves part of a much bigger We than that to be found in their family, their tribe, their town, their country, their religion, or even their species. And this We has a voice.

I have called this voice Blue for many reasons.

All colors have frequencies and when exposed to them we resonate with them in ways we are often unaware of. At the same time our evolving energy levels probably cause us to be drawn to colors existing at the same frequency. 

In the study of colors, blue is related to self expression. It symbolizes speech, and the ability to communicate our needs and requirements.  

Blue, the color of conversation, is said to absorb and release sound. In his book, “Born on a Blue Day”, Daniel Tammet, one of the very few people alive with synesthesia and autism, describes how he sees “the sound of loud voices arguing” in blue. 

When one studies the chakra system, the fifth chakra associated with the throat, is the chakra of communication, expression and creativity. The color associated with it is blue. Not only are there the seven chakras for the individual, but there are also said to be seven planetary chakras. According to some schools of thought, the fifth planetary throat chakra is said to be at the Great Pyramid of Giza located just outside of Cairo - interesting, when one considers recent events in Egypt and the action that was able to be initiated through the use of social media.

In an interconnected world, trends in one area keep popping up in others. Blue at the moment is in.

Twitter’s official logo is in blue. Blue, light blue and sky blue variations of the twitter bird, although not their official business logo, are used as style elements on their website.

The ribbon promoting freedom of online speech is blue, and it is said that blue is becoming the new green.

At the end of the Milan Fashion Week, Giorgio Armani presented his Spring/Summer Collection for 2011. Inspired by the nomadic Touaregs, known for their wearing of blue, the show, entitled La Femme Bleue, had models wandering out of a desert backdrop in shades of blue from cobalt, through navy to royal and midnight blue.

I have referred before to the rise of what I call global nomads in the current world culture we are part of. This collection was a reminder to me once again of the need for finding new and diverse ways of communicating in this century of mobility and in a world where the centre is constantly changing.

If you have the time to watch the fashion show that follows, be sure to look out for Blue. She is definitely on the catwalk!



Meeting in the gap

Yesterday, in South Africa, making my way to my boarding gate for my flight back to Dubai, I passed a little shop selling Ndebele art.

Today, 24hrs later, I had lunch in an Iranian restaurant.


These photos were taken within one day of each other and between them was a gap - the gap of place, the gap of time, the gap of culture.

Yet now you see them both, brought together by my sharing them with you in this here2here space where we meet. 

This space is in itself a gap between us and yet it is a gap not void of content. On the contrary, it is the space of untapped potential, the space of creativity, the meeting place of various personalities, cultures and worldviews, made possible by technology.

It is a reminder of the many gaps we encounter on a daily basis.

The beauty of communication can only be appreciated by acknowledging pauses between words, whether they be spoken or written. Music is filled with pauses between notes, gaps between movements.

There is the transition point between ending one task and beginning another, the time of waiting for a new phase in one’s life to begin, or even the time spent waiting for the lights to change while on the road. 

These gaps are not wasted spaces or wasted time. They are filled with potential when we become mindfully aware of them. 

There is always a moment between an experience and our response to it. The simple act of pausing and finding this gap is proving to have many benefits on many levels of being.

As we begin to find these gaps, inner rhythms can be acknowledged, and when necessary, alignments made with the universal rhythms present all around us. These universal rhythms have always been there, but it is as if we are only now, not only as individuals but also as a collective, beginning to hear them.  

One place these universal rhythms are to be found is in the gaps between cultures. These gaps were once thought of in a negative way, as if they were points of separation and divide. On closer inspection they are a meeting place to discover similarity, interconnectedness, unity and creativity.

Meet you in the gap!  


Light Through - Electronic Stained Glass

There are some days that seem to be filled with colour.

Last week, shortly after my return from the Liwa Desert, I visited a centre in Dubai called Wafi and experienced such a day. Camera in hand, I clicked away. When selecting a few of the images to share in a gallery, I noticed that most of those I had chosen involved light shining through glass.

I was immediately reminded of an interview I had been listening to, in which Jeremy Johnson discussed the terms “light on” and “light through” with John David Ebert. 

Light can shine on something or light can shine through something. Marshall McLuhan, a communications theorist, used the terms “light on” and “light through” to highlight the media that went hand in hand with various cultures throughout the ages.

In the west, in the Middle Ages, light had shone through.  The stained glass windows of many cathedrals are testimony to this. They told stories to the beholder and were meant to point the one looking to a Presence beyond. The dominant belief at the time was that the light of Spirit was shining through all that was taking place.  

The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in the 15th century had ushered in the Renaissance, an age of “light on”.  The printed word had to be looked at.  Light had to be shone on the printed word so that the eye could read it.  

The digital age has once again ushered in “light through”, and the gadgets we currently use are like electronic stained glass. Their high resolution makes them luminous and beautiful, with light shining in from behind.

These gadgets make it possible for you and I to meet and exchange information immediately.  Even right now, our spaces are overlapping. We are sharing a common boundary and an exchange is taking place.

When two entities interconnect, be they systems, concepts, devices, cultures or human beings, the common boundary they share and where an exchange of information and/or energy takes place is known as an interface. 

The place where we are currently meeting, I have chosen to call here2here. In it, we are able to “interface” - which I will translate as - meet in the space between our faces. here2here is the common boundary we share right now, a space where our subtle energies meet. In this space, you somehow shine through to me and I shine through to you, with webcams and apps such as facetime providing a possible enhancement of this meeting. 

Aaron Koblin in his TED talk, quotes: “The culture of the 19th century was defined by the novel, and the 20th century by the cinema. The culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface.”

I am of the opinion that the interface will again allow us to become aware of a special light shining through, a light symbolizing the transcendent.

Already the miracle of this is becoming apparent as, for example, interfacing is making it possible for east and west to allow light to flow through to each other. 

Special online museums are enabling us to view each other’s art and so learn more about the culture of the other. The resulting fusion is producing new masterpieces. 

The exhibition, “Through The Looking Glass” by Syrian artist, Mouteea Murad, is currently running in Dubai. When I viewed the exhibition, I was immediately reminded of stained glass, not knowing then, that this would be the topic of this blog!

I include the picture I took of one of his artworks here, because it symbolizes for me in image, that which I have attempted to say with words. 

I include too, a video featuring the music of Jon Hopkins. The piece is entitled, “Light through the veins” and the sounds and images of this video speak too, where words fail.