Abu Dhabi Art concludes third edition of Art + Technology workshops
Abu Dhabi Art has concluded the third edition of their popular Art + Technology workshops as part of the fair’s year-round programme, to engage the wider community with innovative artistic events and activations.
The Art + Technology programme, launched by Abu Dhabi Art in 2017 in collaboration with Khalifa University, aims to bridge the gap between the two fields, allowing participants to gain new insights into both technology and art. The workshops bring students from the university together with a prominent international artist who leads them in producing artworks at the university’s campus. Participating students are majors in science and technology subjects, including aerospace and biomedical engineering, and this introduction to artistic practice is intended to develop their creativity.
Speaking about the collaboration with Khalifa University, Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art, said: “Since the launch of Art + Technology in 2017, our relationship with the University has continued to grow, with this particular initiative forming one of the pillars of our mission to engage with the wider community. It is a fantastic opportunity for both sides; while many of the students have an interest in art, they haven’t necessarily had the opportunity to study it, and these exchanges have proven to be educational for the artists as well. The intersection between technology and art remains an integral part of the fair’s programme and we are very pleased to have hosted another successful round of workshops.”
As part of the workshops, some 20 students worked with this year’s guest artist Rashed Al Shashai, whose work primarily explores the functions of society and the purpose of human existence. This third edition of the Art + Technology workshops was held under the theme ‘Sculpting Light’, with Al Shashai and the students creating a vibrant installation using light and mixed media. The students also discovered how everyday objects can become important elements in the production of art.
Born in Al Baha, Saudi Arabia, Al Shashai holds a Masters in Visual Arts and is a prominent figure in the Saudi contemporary art scene. As a conceptual artist and arts educator, Al Shashai has influenced a new generation of Saudi talent while nurturing local artistic practices as a founding member of the Saudi Arabia Fine Arts Society and the Art Education Society. In 2009, he established the Tasami Centre for Visual Arts, an independent space that supports cutting-edge art in the Kingdom, and served as the organisation’s director until 2014.
Speaking about his involvement with Art + Technology, Al Shashai said: “I believe that modernising art with advanced science will assist its role in humanising our world. In light of this, the possibilities of what can be done in the Art + Technology sessions are endless. In the workshops, we experimented in different areas; we disrupted, tested and discussed our ideas and preconceived notions. Art took us to a wider space in the practice of life, and we used technology to take art to an amazing new level of detail. Together, we formed a fascinating alliance between the two subjects, and I feel very privileged to have had the chance to work with these brilliant students.”
Artists that have participated in the workshops to date include Feng Mengbo, Magdi Mostafa, Random International, Carl De Smet (Noumenon), and Alaa Edris. Speaking about their time with Abu Dhabi Art, Feng Mengbo said: “It was a wonderful experience to participate in Art + Technology 2017/2018. For me, it was very exciting to bring my oscilloscope music and DIY Karaoke projects to share with the young students in Abu Dhabi. I’m very happy to see these future scientists are interested in the arts, and I learned a lot from them during the workshop. Science and arts are parallel lines to know and improve our future, and I hope that Abu Dhabi Art continues supporting this wonderful project.”
Alaa Edris also commented, saying: “Art + Technology was a fantastic opportunity to introduce students from a strictly scientific background to art and culture. I think the students appreciated learning about the intersections between science, technology, and art and how this knowledge can be implemented in art making. Most students had a basic understanding of what constitutes art so it was very rewarding for me to see the positive response to this learning experience.”