From Aniconism to Bliss: Media Art shows its Islamic roots

Monday, September 20, 2010 - 8:30 pm

Programmed by Laura U. Marks

Particle bursts, mystical abstraction, and an intelligent suspicion of figurative images—qualities of some of the most thrilling media art works have deep origins in the great arts of Islam. Film, video, and digital works from the 1960s to the present celebrate, knowingly or not, their Islamic origins. Mounir Fatmi and Peggy Ahwesh propose a sober aniconism in response to a contemporary image-world of pornography and murder. In works by Takeshi Murata and Cory Arcangel a giddy iconoclasm takes over. Doug Richardson’s analog vector experiments, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ insistent jazzy textualism, and Usama Alshaibi’s shimmying geometries celebrate the liberation from image making. The pixelline universe twinkles in the works of Walid Ra’ad, Paul Sharits, and Gheith Al-Amine, and finally Eric Siegel’s analog abstractions take us into the blissful beyond of the image. 


Mounir Fatmi, Dieu me pardonne. 2001, 8:02mins, DV, Morocco/France.
Peggy Ahwesh, She Puppet. 2000, 17:00mins, DV, USA.
Takeshi Murata , Untitled (Pink Dot). 2007, 5:00mins, DV, USA.         
Cory Arcangel and Radical Software Group, Low Level All-Stars: Video Graffiti from the Commodore 64 Computer, 2003, 21:03mins [6:00excerpt], DV, USA.
Doug Richardson, “Abstractions" from Visual Piano, 1972, 6:00mins, Video [silent], Australia.
Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Lotus Blossom. 2001, 6:07mins, Web Video, South Korea/USA.
Usama Alshaibi, Allahu Akbar. 2003, 5:10mins, DV, USA.   
Paul Sharits, Analytic Studies IV: Blank Color Frames, 1976, 14:00mins, 16mm [silent], USA.                       
Walid Ra’ad, Miraculous Beginnings and No, Illness Is Neither Here Nor There, 1999, 2:00mins, Video, Lebanon/USA.
Gheith al-Amine, Ungrateful Ode to Adel Fakhoury and Brion Gysin, 2008, 7:40mins, Video, Lebanon.
Eric Siegel, Tomorrow Never Knows, 1968, 3:10mins, Video, USA.


Presented in conjunction with the launch of Laura U. Marks’ book Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art, on Tuesday September 21 from 5-7 p.m. at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Woodward’s, 149 W. Hastings St.

Laura U. Marks is the author of The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (2000), Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (2002), and Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT Press, 2010). Dr. Marks is the Dena Wosk University Professor in Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University. 

Image from: Allahu Akbar, Usama Alshaibi (5:10, 2003, DV, USA)