Hello World: An Interactive Exhibition at VCUArts Qatar

It looks intense-high-technological designs from far but the students and faculty of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) have created an interactive exhibition titled ‘Hello, World!: Exploring Computational Potential’, which runs till February 17, 2022, and is worth a watch.

Those interested in exploring the exciting intersection of technology and design should check it out and explore the non-linear processes of thinking and making. The entry is free, and open to the public during VCU arts Qatar’s working hours.

The tech-based educational exhibition is organized by ‘xLab’, one of VCUarts Qatar’s research initiatives, and includes both static and ‘live’ exhibits. The ‘live’ exhibits are programmed to create or behave in a specific manner based on algorithms and data input, giving visitors a chance to explore and experience areas where art and design intersect technology and computation. Like creating images from the algorithms presented through live photographs or parametric designs created makes technological exhibits interesting for the visitors.

All the exhibits on display are created and programmed by VCUarts Qatar’s xLab team consisting of Levi Hammett, Associate Professor, Graphic Design; Haithem A. El-Hammali and Mohammed Nabil Suleiman, Assistant Professors, Interior Design; and VCUarts Qatar students Hind Al Saad, Fatima Abbas, Shaina Dane Juras, and Abdul Rahman Alkhatib Alhosani.

The exhibition comes at a time when day-to-day human activities have become intrinsically intertwined with technology, and more importantly, data. One way to raise awareness of current and potential applications of such emerging technologies is through hands-on engagement in creative practices – much like this exhibition.

“Creative practices in art and design play a critical role in exploring the various dimensions, potentials, and layers of our lives that have become impacted by emerging technologies and computational processes,” explains the xLab team. “Hence, awareness of and engagement with such technologies are the first steps to exploring a future where questions such as ‘Can technology possess personality?’, or ‘Can we develop craft in the realm of the post-digital?’ will be discussed.”

xLab was started as a research studio at VCUarts Qatar almost two years ago, to support research, teaching, and learning related to the creative potential of computation and technology such but not limited to robotics, AI, coding, new materials, and so on. Beyond the lab’s core purpose of conducting research and supporting academia, it is poised to be a resource, a channel, and a network, for the wider community.

“In addition to enhancing the creative capacity for technologies such as literacy in coding and algorithmic thinking within the VCUarts Qatar community, xLab is keen to engage with the public,” the xLab team says. “This inaugural exhibition is our first step to launch xLab within and outside the University, and we’ve already started engaging with the public regarding collaborations, possible workshops, and future projects.”