Entries in iphoneography (11)

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.

Friday
Mar042016

#interact2connect

Using slow-shutter photography on my iPhone, I captured images of women at an Ethiopian festival in Rome.  With the aid of various apps I then painted with and on my iPhone screen to create six artworks which I have had printed onto cloth cut from traditional Ethiopian shawls. These artworks make up my new series #interact2connect.

There is a short background to this in my last blog “Linda in Wanderland”. 

The almost see through, gauze like cloth of the shawls results in the pieces being fairly transparent.  The figures in them seem to be moving in a space/time beyond past, present and future, or simultaneously in all. As a cloth is held up, it interacts with the surroundings it finds itself in, incorporating objects or people that are behind it. This evokes different emotions in the viewer. We are reminded too that everything is connected. 

 

This is a photo of one of the shawls shortly after it was printed. 

I would very much like to display these pieces as an installation in a gallery. 

 

Each piece would be hanging draped on the gallery wall when encountered, but visitors to the gallery would be encouraged to take down an artwork, hold it open and even walk around with it, thus allowing the figures in it to interact with the surrounding architecture, art and space. 

At this point another dimension would be added.  Because I believe that the physical and online worlds can no longer be viewed as entirely separate, visitors would be requested to take photos with these pieces and share them via social media with the hashtag #interact2connect and any other hashtags they might wish to add. 

In this way both the ethereal figures in the artworks and the individual sharing the photo would simultaneously be entering the realm of cyberspace - the mindspace we find ourselves in when we connect online.  

Later when other images shared under this hashtag are seen, the possibility would exist to make new and interesting connections by engaging with others who, regardless of their physical location or time zone, have shared their archived experience of the event, or commented on a photo.

As I have used current technology to create the artworks, it is my wish that the heart of the art of this installation will be found in the connections made through online sharing.

The vibrant patterns on the borders of the shawls are a stark reminder of the beauty to be found in diversity within unity, and the harmony of the colors asks us to question how we view the other.

The age of connectivity calls for transparency.  The gauze like cloth of the shawls asks us to question whether we are authentic when online.

#interact2connect would further raise the question of whether photography should be allowed in galleries and museums in an age when most people want to archive experiences using the technology at their disposal. 

Until such time that these pieces find themselves together in a gallery, I have decided that I will carry different ones with me when I am out and about, and ask people to hold them up in their surroundings once I have given them a short background.

 

This week while in Dubai with two instagrammers, Nilufer and Femi, I allowed the first piece to make its debut in the new phase of City Walk.  That the venue included the word “walk” felt appropriate, and it was wonderful to see the background glass shining through, and the reflected green wall pick up the color of the one ladies’ dress. There even seemed to be similar shades of orange and yellow to the colors in the border of the shawl.  

 

The next day I asked a waiter in a cafe to hold up the same piece.  Ernesto willingly obliged.  I had seen beforehand that there were artworks up on the wall behind him but I only realized afterwards that they were of three women too! The green skirt of Maria Callas on the wall also picked up the color of the transparent lady on the right and the chairs behind the cloth, despite themselves being stationary, added a sense of movement to the transparent figures. 

 

Who knows what further journeys the figures in these cloths will make, and what connections they will lead to.

I wait with anticipation :) 

Sunday
Sep132015

Unfolding

Having written recently about the fact that I believe a time will come when we will be able to communicate with each other without the use of words, I have decided that this blog will unfold mainly in images.

I am hoping that even if you decide not to read the captions under each image you will get a feel of the current exhibit of my iPhoneography artworks on canvas and wood, which can be seen in the Radisson Royal Hotel in Dubai from 9-16 September 2015.

 

 

 

 Preparations completed, the opening reception begins.

 

 Maja Bencic, who helped me prepare the show, joins me to welcome our guests.

The show had been advertised all over the hotel - in elevators

  and foyers,

 and at times, was even to be seen in the lobby. 

 I love photographing architecture so it was exciting to be exhibiting in a hotel that rises 51 storeys above the streets and has a metal and glass exterior. 

 My artworks are shown in the amazing Origami Room area - one of the reasons I chose the title “Unfolding”.

 

  Soon my photographer Helen David-Cuny arrives as do the other guests.

 Bahareh Amidi, dear friend and poetess, recites the poem “The Arrival of Space and Beauty and Light” about which she had also written a beautiful blog.

Guests mingle


and admire the pieces.

 A traditional igersdubai photo is taken!

  Soon a special guest, Farrukh Naeem arrives and surprises me by telling me that he is about to Periscope the event!  My last blog post had been about this new app so I was overjoyed.

 The periscope video may be found here to allow you to be part of the opening reception.

 

  The opening of "Unfolding" coincided with the Arab Women in Leadership and Business Summit

and while it was on the curtains to the foyer were closed. I believe that as moments occur, we have the choice to creatively partake in their unfolding - an apt message for the forum I felt, and another reason I entitled the exhibition “Unfolding”. 

  On the evening after the summit was over I made my way into the Origami Room and allowed the quiet, almost meditative space to surround me.

---oOo---

Further images can be seen on my facebook page and more of my art can be viewed on my art website

If you'd like to see the above story unfold before you, here it is via Steller 

Monday
Jun292015

The Unthinkable Present

Yesterday The Telegraph published an article “Sci-fi or real life? Six fictional ideas that are happening now”.

Reading that in the 1976 film “Logan’s Run” citizens travel in driverless ‘pods’,  I immediately thought of the driverless pods of the Personal Rapid Transit system I often make use of in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. 

Some car companies are already working on making the concept of a driverless car a reality.  In January this year, Mercedes Benz unveiled its luxury self-driving car. 

More on the future of driverless cars can be seen in this youtube video

Sixty years before the launch of the Apple Watch in March this year, the US comic strip character Dick Tracy had a 2-way wrist radio which served as a kind of mobile phone.

Science fiction writers are known to be very adept at looking for patterns in what is currently happening, in order to be able to predict in their stories, what will happen in the future.  

Indigo - one of my recent iphoneography artworks

A google search reveals that “Indigo” appears quite frequently in recent Science Fiction titles and novels.

The science fiction writer, William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberspace” in his 1982 short story “Burning Chrome” and then expanded on it in his 1984  debut novel “Neuromancer”, speaks about the science fiction researcher being able to take snapshots of an unthinkable present,  implying a future scenario we are currently unable to imagine. 

In a recent articleJeremy Johnson draws attention to the fact that a new type of thinking for our species is becoming necessary. This emergent new thinking, according to many thinkers, is already living and breathing in the various cultures we will journey to in order to find it.  

It will reveal itself as the unspoken art and become a secret to itself, hidden in plain site within the texts and artifacts of human consciousness........It is alive and biding its time.  Our task, as William Gibson put it, is to become sensitive enough to recognize an 'unthinkable present'

To give voice to what is already being spoken to us, through us, we will need to listen carefully. 

As I read Jeremy’s sentence with “the unthinkable present” I suddenly saw it in an entirely different way - that is exactly what it would be - unthinkable! Unthinkable not in the sense that it is difficult to imagine now what the future will be, but in the sense that in the future we will no longer think - at the very least not in the way we do now!  

It is my sense that words and logic, will be strongly preceded by image and intuition and that even communication could take place energetically without the use of language as we know it now.  

Jeremy states that this hidden serpent lays buried and coiled in the fragments of art and culture and can be found piece by piece, “here a tail, there a scale”, “alive and biding its time”. 

Listening to his words and listening to the spaces I find myself in, whether they be in daily routines or online in cyberspace, I hear the image making itself heard more powerfully than ever before.

Selfies have become all the rage, and Nina Siegel, in her New York Times article, “With Rembrandt, the Selfie Takes On New Meaning” , states that

The most important lesson Rembrandt can teach us about the selfie, perhaps, was that in order to begin to understand others, we must first look at ourselves. But it is a process that begins with really looking, and not just pointing and clicking.

If understanding ourselves will better enable us to understand others that is a good thing. In the interconnected, interdependent world we now find ourselves in, caring for the other is most important as is the way in which we communicate with the other. 

In the current internet culture, we communicate frequently via images. Instagram grows in popularity and I have heard it said that it will trump other social media. My twitter feed has become so busy and more and more I find myself drawn to those tweets that include images. 

Colors and shapes make a more definite statement than words - Georgia O'Keeffe, 1976

Images are becoming poetical.  Twitter friends write poetry to images posted by others.  When an Instagram friend @cralmeida62 posted an image of the San Jose City Hall, his caption spoke of

The beauty of lines and the rhythm of their poetry 

Another instagram friend, Anibojo posted a beautiful photo of her calligraphy quoting Ken Wilber:

Art speaks of the new ideas 

 

A photo posted by @anibojo on Jun 8, 2015 at 2:13pm PDT

 

This touching artwork was another “scale” of the future “present” making itself heard to those who are listening.

Emotions are shared via emojis and I find myself sensing the being of online users through the content they post and the way in which they communicate online.  It is more a sense than something that can be put into words.  I have had the good fortune of getting to meet many of these people, and have often been astonished at how accurate these feelings about them have proven to be. 

In my blog on eL Seed and his calligraffiti, I mention that he states that,

Much of my work process is about letting the viewer interact with the letters without necessarily being able to read them.

When people come to view my iphoneography artworks they are often visibily touched and not always able to articulate why at first. Is it because the images touch them on a level which is beyond just thinking about what they are seeing but which can be distinctly felt?

The communication age related to the throat chakra is slowly opening up to a balanced third eye or brow chakra which governs intuition, psychic abilities, wisdom and imagination and is the center of multi-dimensional vision.  The color associated with this chakra is indigo.  

I came across another scale or perhaps it was the tail, of the unthinkable present in the article, “Abu Dhabi’s Louvre Museum ‘must redefine’ art” in The National. The curator Jean-Hubert Martin states

I am not against knowledge, but the museum should not be a place where you read. It should be a place where you look and make contact with objects and, if they have a certain strength and visual impact, then the viewer will see and interpret that.

By no means am I suggesting that words will disappear. Every stage in the evolution of consciousness, if it is to be healthy, should transcend and include the one that went before it. 

The boundless tension between words and images, text and art, is at the heart of the art of Anselm Kiefer.

“When Orhan Pamuk met Anselm Kiefer” Pamuk shares in his piece painted beautifully with words, 

In the beginning was, indeed, the word, Kiefer’s paintings seem to tell their beholder. But to look at art and the world and really understand what we see is so much more pleasurable than reading words and letters can ever be. Is it possible, then, to look at a painting and be able, ultimately, to read it? Is it possible to treat a book as a painting, and a painting as a book?

We are experiencing the dawn of the unthinkable present. 

Saturday
May232015

Noun Al Neswa 4th edition

The Marsam Mattar Gallery is a hidden gem in the heart of Dubai.

Situated in Al Hudaiba, it was founded by renowned Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej. Attached to the gallery is the recently opened Sketch Art Cafe and the More than Art Training Centre. The gallery’s tranquil setting and outdoor facilities invite the visitor to spend time there, taking in the art before sharing coffee and chatting with friends. 

To nurture the creativity of the youth, the centre will provide training courses for children in all aspects of art, and has fully equipped presentation rooms as well as an art supplies store. 

Noun Al Neswa is an annual exhibition held in the Marsam Mattar Gallery. It is for female artists and this year’s edition showcased the work of 22 participating artists from various fields. 

As one of the participating artists, I was honored to be able to show five of my iPhoneography artworks on wood at the exhibition.

 

The opening evening on 11 May 2015 was a great success as artists and guests mingled, admiring works and sharing stories.

I had met the Saudi artist, Noor Hisham Al Saif, that morning in the gallery. New bonds of friendship were formed. The two of us were fortunate enough to have Mattar bin Lahej sit with us over coffee in the cafe, sharing stories of his career as an artist and giving us advice about the art world.

 

Opposite me in the gallery that evening was friend Farah Al Balooshi.  It has been a pleasure to get to know Farah.  The two of us were delighted when Khalil Abdul Wahid, head of Visual Arts at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority spent some time chatting to us. Khalil is responsible for promoting the culture and arts of Dubai internationally. 

 

Khalil later posted this pic on Instagram which gives a lovely overview of the opening reception. 

 

Beside family and friends from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, also present at the opening was a group of at least 20 instagrammers from the IgersDubai community.  It meant a lot to me to have them come along to support the evening.  

 

More photos of the evening can be seen in the album shared on my facebook page

The exhibition has been extended until 5 June 2015.  The Marsam Mattar Gallery is located at Villa 21, 4B Street, Al Hudaiba 322, Dubai.