A city building game for refugees to heal , give hope and dream of a better future.

Rest in peace #Beltrame , let’s all give the two fingers to IS !!

“ Two Digits to ISIS !!“ 150x100cm Hahnemühle Bright White Photo Rag mounted on Dibond, Inspired by my visit to Palmira’s 3D printed arch in Trafalgar Square.

How do you fill the empty space resulting from the complete destruction of what was once a city??
Recasting, restoration and 3D printing, and in some cases repatriation… so many issues around the reconstruction of war torn or nature devastated countries.
A good place to start would be a game.

Imagine providing all refugees with a free app, a game, a way of virtually visiting every inch of their hometown , where they can start imagining their future city by building , 3D printing and even landscaping in augmented reality. Kind of a Pokemon go game without the battles, where your personal avatar is free to wonder around his hometown with the ability to add, build and construct not only a house or a building but a whole city! Great way to encourage refugees to dream about going back to their homeland and give them incentive to go back and start a new future.

And while refugees ,are dreaming of their new city by playing the game, scholars, archeologists architects artists regulators etc can keep the discussion going.

What does it mean to copy an ancient monument or historical city ? Can a replica ever be as good as the original? What about “authenticity” ? To people who’ve survived death and destruction , authenticity might be less important than symbolism.
Some are still horrified at the idea of recasting and or 3D printing a historical city such as palmyra.

The whole argument of authenticity vs symbolism seems to me useless since first , what’s gone is gone, and so you are left with two solutions , either accept the disappearance of a city or simply reconstruct it, ideally using material from the site, to have a semblance of authenticity. But then, what if what was destroyed wasn’t the original anyway? Oftentimes, Artifacts, for so many reasons, have been replaced by replicas and the original have migrated and chosen residency in a foreign country. And so sometimes there is no way of really telling which artifacts are authentic . Head to Sfeir Semler Gallery whose few last shows seem to be meditations on authenticity from Yto Barrada, to Walid Raad or more recently Rayyane Tabet’s exhibition. Rayyane’s ongoing show whether intentionally or not opened once again the Elgin Marble’s debate, just like the British museum, where Rodin’s sculptures are juxtaposed with Athen’s Parthenon frieze reliefs and figures.
“Fault lines run through any claims on antiquity” and it might take years to reach a compromise between countries . In the meantime and while refugees are waiting for the proper time to go back to their war torn counties such as Syria, Iraq or to their hurricane devastated country such as Puerto Ricco, a simple computer game such as the one described above should help don’t you think?

I gave up on my dream, but I still believe it’s a great idea!

Super interesting 2 day event at AUB with #UXBEIRUT ! So many inspirational moments and great tips. Yesterday I applied my first learned lesson : @pstojanov123 ‘s art of failing smart ! And so I decided to move on and forget all about my dream of a virtual museum on a virtual land !! ( check previous post) for so many reasons i’d rather not get into. Guys i still believe it’s a great idea , it is up in the air (physically and litterally:)!) for anyone to grab and work on.

And no need for arcona or any other blockchain platform to build it on:) !!

Just get a VR/AR specialist , u don’t even need to map Beit Beirut( this will definitly save you time sweat money and frustration) . Get Bernard Khoury and the artists’s consent. For the success of the project top of your list should include artists who approached war in a very conceptual way such as : Walid Raad, Joanna Hadjitomas and Khalil Joreich, Lamia Joreige , Akram Zaatari etc

Nada Sehnaoui’s toilet installation would be great too!

Should you need my help I’ll try as much as i can , good luck!

#art #ConceptualArt #AR #VR #augmentedreality #virtualreality #beirut #architecture #museum

Might be a solution to the refugee’s crisis?

I was asked about what triggered my dream in the previous post . Here is the article that got me super excited and inspired . However my  dream  had it’s roots in a visit done last summer to Sfeir Semler Galllery. Bernard Khoury and Walid Raad’s hole in the ground museum proposal was fantastic , honestly if I had a piece of land I would have donated it, with no hesitation, for digging that hole!

My dream might remain a dream but I felt like sharing it …. Btw I’d like to make it very clear  I am not endorsing in any way  or promoting this company Arcona , far from that! Could be the greatest idea or biggest scam … I don’t think they are the only ones 3D mapping the world and adding an augmented reality layer to it … So many companies are building similar platforms I am not sure which is the best one, let me know if you have any idea!… I  just felt like sharing my dream and that coin i designed. :)!

Crossing my fingers for Lebanon to have its locally designed platform to provide artists architects ,advertisers etc  or whoever is interested in this amazing core technology. The applications are enormous. It could be the solution to Lebanon’s refugees crisis. Imagine 3D mapping Syria and providing all the refugees with a way of visiting every inch of their hometown , where they can start  imagining their future city. Great way to encourage  and give them incentive to go back and start a new future don’t you think?  BTW  AUB is hosting UXB 2018 – Lebanon’s first global UX event.



My virtual dream…

A huge soap bubble, my own version of Sou Fujimoto’s Serpentine pavillion(2015)

Beirut ! Such a vibrant creative zone. Not that I am an expert on that , I am still trying to catch up with the lebanese art scene .( TAP is a great place to start!)
Lebanon has so many wonderful artists whose work revolves around war, I don’t get it, why is the maison jaune /Beit Beirut( the war/memorial  museum in Beirut) still empty!!???

While those in charge of Beit Beirut are trying to reach a consensus to agree on what is supposed to be there , someone on the other side of the planet is busy 3D mapping the whole world . Others  are busy selling virtual land using blockchain technology to buyers who can build anything from the most basic sculpture to the most complexe augmented reality experience you can ever think of!

We live in a fantastic world. Now almost any dream can come true at least in the virtual/augmented  reality space !
Imagine buying the virtual plot of la maison jaune and filling it with works of our very talented artists.

Virtual tresspassing you might think. Ok forget about the maison jaune, choose another virtual location, preferably one of the most contentious zone in Lebanon , and build the virtual war museum on it. Call that one , maison rouge, add an extension , a hole , Bernard Khoury’s hole in the ground museum.  Voila! Lebanon could have it’s state of the art contemporary art/war museum with all the augmented reality you can think of, it could be built in no time at a fraction of the cost of a real one.
And one day hopefully , the digital curator hand in hand with a human curator will enable the virtual project to  morph into reality! Virtual or real, offering a space where every voice could be heard regardless of which side of the war you were on, a place that would open the dialogue, so necessary for healing, understanding and forgiving… Having said all that , I sometimes wonder , should we really keep looking back to the past?  Forget and keep on going . At times I am totally with this opinion. I reserve the right to contradict myself , lebanese are known to be masters of contradictions:)!! So  I go through stages, this happens automatically , when I’m in Beirut I shift gears . It happens unconsciously. The thing is , something in this country forces you to keep looking back . I guess it’s because nothing really changed in the political power structure of the country and so to understand the present you definitely need to understand the past.

Sorry guys to disappoint you . My dream has nothing to do with the lebanese election which is supposed to take place tomorrow. Tomorrow happens to be Martyrs’ Day too!

The magic of Siri in Sand Land

The magic of Siri in Sand Land

This is not about nostalgia of what was once called the Silk Road, that glorious time of openess and collaboration connecting  East to West where not only silk and goods were traded but cultures too.

This is more about words and how they change meaning over time . This is about memories and history and how it  can be distorted if not completely erased. 

It is also about the future , about blockchain, a network that will pull the world together regardless of color, race, or frontiers. A technology  that is taking the world by storm including  the art world.

In 2013 The term silk road had been hijacked and  had been  used to refer to an online  drug marketplace run by criminals and drug lords, which was shut down by authorities. 

This is my attempt to rescue the term “Silk Road” from it’s  hijackers. How? By recapturing the beautiful spirit of openness and collaboration connecting  east to west .

 A modern  version of that glorious time of openness and connectivity is represented here with an art collector cruising the desert on a camel while giving instructions through Siri to buy him a Rothko from Dubai Art Fair. If you think this is far from happening think again! Recently Apple has hired  John Giannandre Google’s chief of search artificial intelligence to improve Siri.

On the true meaning of a work of Art, from Hammer’s show to Mozart’s Magic Flute, passing by Blockchain

La flute enchantée in blockchain mode La flute enchantée in blockchain mode Work in progress
A museum is hidden in the background , can you guess which one?? Hint it was the first to buy an artwork for bitcoin!
The photo above is a closeup of a work in progress(150x100cm), inspired by Mozart’s Magic  Flute , and the blockchain revolution taking the art world world by storm. More on that towards the end of this post.

Jasper John’s reluctance to explain his work is, in a way very smart, because anyway once outside of an artist’s studio, any work of art will acquire a life of its own! And will keep changing and acquiring different layers of meaning, sometimes even in the eyes of its own creator. Events, context, viewer’s interpretation, curator’s intentions etc will all contribute in continuously shaping the meaning of an artwork.
I experienced this with my work, but I had the confirmation one day when I was listening to Xavier Veilhan and then recently with “Stories of almost everyone,” the show at the Hammer museum and especially with Tino Sehgal’s amazing Guard performance . The guard stripping, removing layer after layer to finally reveal his true skin(he didn’t strip completely, at least not when I was there) is a metaphor for the process required to reach the core of a work of art. Peel off all layers added by catalogues, reviews, art critics, curators and you’ll finally arrive at the artist’s intentions …. The show leaves u confused, wondering: should an artist reveal or not the true meaning of a work? In a way it is tempting for the artist to just refrain from giving any explanation to his art, bearing in mind the risk of having it acquire a meaning he totally disapproves of. Isn’t that what happened to The Charging Bull? (click here for  The touching story of the Charging Bull) The artist’s intention was to symbolize America’s strength and resilience after the crash, but somehow in people’s mind, it morphed into a symbol for greed and corruption, especially after its appropriation and portrayal on the occupy wall street poster. Later it became a symbol of oppression when  ” Fearless Girl” was placed opposite the iconic Wall Street Charging Bull to mark International Women’s Day


I’ve been so much tempted to follow expert’s advise and stop explaining my work, to the point that one day, after having seen a bitcoin ad embedded in my WordPress blog, I panicked and immediately deleted it with no hesitation . My blog was in invisible mode for a couple of month I think…

But then later  I changed my mind and decided I’m better off explaining my work and keeping my blog. I’d like to have control over the meaning of my work. That doesn’t prevent anyone from viewer, to curator, art critic, journalist etc… to  look at it and have their imagination run wild and cast their own interpretations.

When I panicked seeing the bitcoin ad , it wasn’t because I was against bitcoin, on the contrary back then I was reading watching and listening everything related to blockchain . Blockchain is the future and I desperately needed to understand where we are heading and how to interact in that new ecosystem. I spent literally a couple of month trying to wrap my brains around blockchain and cryptocurrencies the subject was fascinating… it seems 99% of cryptocurrencies are scam , but some will survive and provide real solutions that will hopefully make the world a better place. My interest as an artist was mainly fueled by my curiosity and by how this would be applied to the art world …As my husband was and is still completely against the subject, and doesn’t even want to discuss it, I joined for a couple of weeks a Facebook group , something i’ve never done before, just to find some answers. I needed help in knowing how to safely and securely send all documents required for verification before buying my first bitcoin. I naively thought if I buy 1 bitcoin and few other alt coins, I would prove to myself that I am ready for the new crypto age…

I was really so excited about how the art world would be affected by this wonderful technology.I had grand plans, I thought, maybe  by getting my feet wet, I’d eventually come up with a brilliant idea that would make the world a better ,or that would enable  artists to have a more fulfilling life. Basically crypto for a good use !

But by the time I figured out how to do that, the price was up to the roof, not to mention that by then, some credit cards where being deactivated by banks as authorities were trying to control what was happening. So I finally opted to buy just $10 worth of bitcoin from an ATM , simply to put my curiosity at rest and guess what ? Commission was so high that I only got $3 worth of bitcoin!… The problem bitcoin claimed to solve is still there, huge fees! Even transaction time it seems was too slow, in some cases it required days for transaction to go through… clearely it seemed to me there were serious issues with bitcoin … but some 100 or so banks were using ripple another cryptocurrency, so the crypto space can’t be completely ignored.
Bubble or not, blockchain will definitely change the world as we know it right now, it’s a huge social cultural revolution that will touch every sector, and cannot be ignored.
It is definitely taking the world by storm including the art world. Later I discovered artists didn’t need me to lead a more fulfilling life. So many art related blockchain startups were mushrooming left right and center…having in mind to remove the middle man, to prevent fraud, to create digital certificates of authenticity, art registries, to democratize art and make it more affordable, more accessible… which startup will win , which one will survive? Only time will tell… in the meantime, blockchain and crypto started naturally showing up in my work:)! of course how could it be otherwise after all the efforts  I’ve done to understand that new space?

I’m still not quite sure about the title of my work. Here are a few I Am considering: Tokenizing the past, To bitcoin or not to bitcoin , La Flute  Enchantée in crypto mode… I think i’ll opt for the first.

Talking about crypto mode I ran across quite an interesting interpretation of Mozart’s Magic Flute on Los Angeles Philharmonic Association youtube Chanel. Notice I used the word Interpretation , for did Mozart really intend his opera to be a symbolic representation of a masonic  initiation ceremony?  Did he do it on purpose?  We’ll never know unless he magically pops up from his grave!

Tokenizing the past Tokenizing the past , work in progress 150x100cm[/caption]

The Kipling Spirit - roula Sorour

The Kipling Spirit , Hahnemühle Bright White Photo Rag mounted on Dibond, by roula sorour 150x90cm , Ed.1/1 – 2017 V&A Museum, John Madejski Garden, designed by Kim Wilkie, London, England, early 21th century ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspired by an article about Martin Ross resignation over the Brexit vote, the Kipling Spirit is a celebration of diversity denouncing the rise of nationalism and cultural insularity in Britain and Europe.

I’ve always sat in awe admiring the great brick facade of the V&A. Little did i know that Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling’s father)started his career as an architectural sculptor at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) . That wonderful exhibition made it so clear to me that Britain’s greatness like that of the V&A relies so much on cultural diversity.