Students of Qatar Explore Meta-Functionality at Ars Electronica

We feature works of students from Qatar at Ars Electronica Festival for Art, Technology and Society at Linz in Austria. Ten works produced by undergraduate and graduate students, and student-faculty collaborations of VCUarts Qatar showcased the diverse creative and cultural ecosystems of Qatar.

Students and faculty on the Qatar-based campus engaged in a plurality of hybrid forms in creative practice crossing domains and intersections in art, design, science, and technology at the Ars Electronica Festival. The exhibition showcased the creative outcomes of multidisciplinary explorations, highlighting the innovative and highly-collaborative approaches cultivated by VCUarts Qatar.

The participation while giving the students an exposure to the world of technology also gave them impetus to strive forward with even more meaningful stories through technology.

“The projects I encountered covered a wide spectrum of ideas. Some delved into the potential ways AI might influence and shape our lives, while others explored how AI and technology could breathe new life into ancient rituals and crafts. Additionally, there were projects that stood out for their unprecedented and avant-garde nature, sparking inspiration in me to consider incorporating these groundbreaking concepts into my future endeavours,” recollects Naima Almajdobah, an MFA student from VCUarts Qatar who participated in this technology fair, who adds, “It’s not just an exhibition or a festival; it’s a holistic experience—a one-of-a-kind immersion. This experience has pushed me far beyond my comfort zone, igniting a fervour within me to craft a project that would grant me the opportunity to return to ARS Electronica in the future. Every designer should have the chance to partake in this extraordinary experience.”

Another student, Selma Fejzulla compares the experience at Ars Electronica to seeing a grand board of images, ideas, textures, and sounds, presented in high-quality outcomes.

Stitch by Stitch

Naima Almajdobah

Naima Almajdobah holds honours BFA in Graphic Design and is presently pursuing an MFA degree. She believes that focusing on her culture and mixing it with contemporary mediums and technologies, can preserve that culture and shed light on the lost crafts that once existed for other people to learn more about it.

The project at Ars Electronica

“My project titled “Stitch by Stitch” is a project designed to extend traditions through the sonification of Palestinian embroidery patterns. This project locates itself within the realm of audiovisual experimentation and is connected to both historic precedent and contemporary practice.

The process of translation evolved from working with Ableton Live, an industry-standard software used to produce audio. The software has a ‘MIDI Note Editor’ interface which allows users to draw a sequence of notes on designated blocks within a timeline. A common practice is to visually create patterns that form rhythm and melodies, then apply different instruments to find the desired sound. While working on this method, I recognised that the blocks of notes could be used to draw Palestinian embroidery patterns.

After finding the right instrument, adjusting the volume of the notes, and setting the correct scale, I could transform visual patterns into unique soundscapes. I created my own library of patterns by redrawing them stitch by stitch into something that is both new and familiar.

What you hear is the visual pattern playing on a loop several times over with slight changes to the combination of instruments using automated cycles. Because each pattern has a unique shape with positive and negative spaces, you can hear subtle distinctions between each of them.

How did this international design and technology event help you in your understanding of technology, design, media, and activism?

Attending Ars Electronica has been an enlightening and transformative experience that has significantly contributed to my understanding of technology, design, media, and activism. Ars Electronica is renowned for showcasing the latest and most innovative developments in technology and design. Attending the event exposed me to a wide array of cutting-edge technologies, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence and beyond.

This first-hand exposure allowed me to grasp the rapid pace of technological advancement and its implications for various industries. This interdisciplinary environment taught me the importance of collaboration and how different perspectives can be harnessed to create truly groundbreaking projects. It emphasised that the intersection of technology and design can lead to remarkable solutions to complex problems. It exposed me to ideas and viewpoints from around the world, helping me recognize the interconnectedness of these fields on a global scale. This global awareness is essential for addressing global challenges collaboratively.

Ars Electronica has broadened my horizons by immersing me in a world of creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. This experience has not only deepened my understanding but also inspired me to explore these fields further and contribute meaningfully to their evolution.

Sacred Silence

Selma Fejzulla

The project at the Ars Electronica

“Sacred Silence” is a project led by the TypeAraby team in collaboration with Levi Hammett. The piece displays the multilayer nature of Arabic letter forms and their metaphysical richness. As a rooted language, Arabic can potentially maintain a two/three-letter root while expanding further on the initial meaning. In “Sacred Silence” we chose the root “kun”, meaning “be”, in the other transitions of the words we kept adding letters to transform and enrich the meaning with words such as universe, dwelling, and tranquillity. This morphological study combines with the metaphysical themes of existence and universe, starting from the very dot of the Arabic letter Nun and ultimately leading to a calligraphic reflection of stillness, sacred silence.

How did this international design and technology event help you in your understanding of technology, design, media, and activism?

Being exposed to so many diverse projects from universities around the world has given me a better understanding of the potential of design and critical thinking. The range of themes presented at Ars Electronica was truly fascinating as everyone was able to find projects that resonated with their interest.

Tell us about one incident or even other international projects that were not any less than revolutionary.

A project that really inspired me dealt with the cracks in boiled rice. The artist created a catalogue with 500 pieces of cooked rice grains. She later incorporated a microscope that could detect the shape of the cracks in each one and generate a phrase or poem corresponding to the grains. Working with rice, such a common everyday product, and pushing the boundaries to make it significant and intriguing to the viewer, is fascinating. The thought process behind the piece, the amount of research, and the introspective look into culture and food really inspired me to incorporate a similar take in my own projects in the future.

Noor Rashid Butt


The project at the Ars Electronica

My project is called “Nanoabaya,” a sports abaya enhanced with nanotechnology. This collaborative project involved Dr. Khaled Saoud, a physicist at VCUarts Qatar, who developed the nanotechnology treatment for the fabric. I designed the Nanoabaya, and Professor Christopher Fink, Chair of Fashion Design at VCUarts Qatar, supervised the overall project. The nanotechnology treatment applied to the fabric has endowed it with a range of remarkable properties. These include the ability to absorb UVB rays, promoting skin synthesis of Vitamin D, as well as shielding the wearer from the sun’s harmful rays in sweltering summer climates. Additionally, the Nanoabaya offers thermal insulation, water resistance, antibacterial properties, and even self-cleaning capabilities.

How did this international design and technology event help you in your understanding of technology, design, media, and activism?

Ars Electronica expanded my horizons in several ways. It introduced me to cutting-edge technology, igniting my creative design thinking, creating opportunities for collaboration, and increasing my awareness of critical societal issues. These collective experiences enriched my comprehension of technology, design, media, and activism. The diverse exhibitions and discussions deepened my understanding of communication’s role in activism. Lastly, the event provided valuable networking opportunities, connecting me with professionals and enthusiasts from various backgrounds.

Tell us about one incident or even other international projects that were not any less than revolutionary?

I encountered several groundbreaking projects that left a lasting impression, but two stood out as my favorites: ArchaeaBot and MBc02 – “Uncovering the Hidden Impact of the Internet” by Thijs Biersteker. These projects not only amazed me but also sparked my imagination regarding the limitless possibilities that arise when design and technology seamlessly merge.

Would you say that you are a different designer after attending Ars Electronica?

I can confidently say that Ars Electronica has significantly influenced my design thinking skills in a positive manner. It has opened my eyes to the boundless potential that emerges when combining two distinct realms of design, like fashion and innovation. The insights and experiences I acquired at Ars Electronica have served as a powerful motivation for me to excel as an emerging Fashion designer. It has ignited my inspiration to introduce fresh and innovative ideas into my future creative endeavours.