At the end of the conference, this is the only picture I have left to post. I attended lots of presentations, including Rem Koolhaus as our keynote speaker during the Tasmeem Conference. I’ve learned a lot from working with students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and I’ve certainly found out a lot about the culture and heritage of Doha and the surrounding areas from this trip.
These are just some of the various works I got to see on display at the MIA. They have a wide collection of objects from across Asia and Europe, and display the objects wonderfully.
On the next-to-last day of the conference, I finally had time to visit the Museum of Islamic Art, and I was amazed. The building itself was as interesting [if not moreso] than the objects it contained. Elegantly designed, it utilizes empty space and high ceilings to create a sense of power. The objects are all displayed on pedestals, and the dramatic lighting and interior space help elevate the visitor.
In the afternoon- we went dune bashing! Basically four-wheeling out in the desert area of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. There was no long fence or border patrol, but we did have to take our passports just in case! We were driven on this thrill ride by drivers in typical four-wheeled SUVs, but we got to see a lot of dune buggies driven by people our own age doing crazy tricks and jumps. Personally, I’m glad we didn’t have to drive ourselves around. With no real sense of order, you had to rely on horn signals to tell if there was another car approaching over the hill or turn, and there were a lot of steep slopes that had to be approached with caution. We did get to see the sun set out in the desert, which was extremely beautiful.
In the morning of our day off, a group of us traveled to the Souq Waqif, which is the traditional marketplace in Doha. Because it was a day of rest, most of the shops were closed and it was close to abandoned, but we managed to find a bakery that was open, and we had a nice relaxing time with our small group dining on fig pastries and lemon/mint tea.
Today was the final day of our workshops, we finally got our pieces into their respective frames! As of now, they are hung on the wall of the Mathaf to be on display until the end of the summer, and since they don’t allow photography inside the galleries, I was unable to get a picture of the finished pieces. The way they are displayed showcases the workmanship and craft that we put into these works. The other two pictures in this set are of other workshops, and their creations. The piece on the right deals with the materiality of Doha, specifically the sand. The sand here is extremely fine and soft, and he worked with the landscape to create a work that incorporates the natural texture of the city. The group on the right wrote and performed a series of poems about the area and it’s history. These works were all part of the exhibition from the conference, working with renowned artists and faculty.
We continued to work on our workshop, and helped out other groups who were in need of a few extra hands today. The collaboration between students from across the world was amazing. We were all motivated and gathered in one place to create and share ideas. This is one of the studios inside the Mathaf Museum, where we worked on our labs.
The Museum of Islamic Art is sitting on it’s own man-created island. The building was designed by I. M. Pei, and is in itself an incredible monument of the city of Doha. We went on a late-night walk, and in this picture you can see the famous city skyline, the dhow boats in the harbor, and the museum in spotlights. It is quite the beautiful sight, lit up in spotlights.
We got to work with the studio within Mathaf, and the workshops at VCUQatar! VCUQ has a lot of impressive technology, like a 3D scanner, 3D printer, and a pretty large laser cutter. These are some examples of the objects that some VCUQ students have made in the center that I found laying around when I went in to cut some of our paper out.
These are the type of projects that we’ve been working on for the past few days! You can see the individual layers, but eventually they start to blend together, creating the illusion of depth. I shot these photographs for my lab leader’s submission to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London this summer, after our Tasmeem design team helped create and assemble them.
I got to use a laser cutter today! These machines are super useful, they can cut and score extremely intricate designs onto any material [within reason] using lasers to produce heat and burn. This allows for exact shapes to be cut, and we definitely needed this skill for our project! Here you can see the cutter carving us out some boats!
This evening, we went into the Souq Walif, which is the main marketplace in our area of Doha. They have everything from bunnies and pets to musical specialty shops, and all in an open air/covered market. The covering for the market was designed to keep it cooler in the summer. There are also a tremendous number of restaurants inside the Souq, we spent the evening on the rooftop bar of one of the most popular locations, but only after spending time exploring the many corridors of the marketplace. On our way to the Souq, we saw some more evidence of Qatar’s fantastic architecture- including an office building that is currently home to the world’s largest chandelier as well as a spiral building that serves as an Islamic Cultural Center. [the first two pictures show these] We ate and talked with some of the VCUQatar students, and learned more about their families and history. Many students live in Doha, and therefore commute to school instead of staying in the dorms. Family time is highly emphasized in Muslim cultures, and the regulation of alcohol is highly strict, as it is not allowed in public [bars, restaurants etc.], so the typical “college life” doesn’t really apply to these students. This is evidence of how their traditional culture affects many aspects of their lives that may not be explicitly stated. Their experience in college is not like the typical American way. They do not live on their own, struggling to cook ramen and living on a day-to-day budget; instead they continue to live at home until they find a spouse, cared for by their parents. Just an interesting point I’d thought to share. Their values, morales, and way of life are so drastically different from ours, it is hard to comprehend until you experience it firsthand.
We basically completed our first frame today! We cut, pieced together, glued, stacked, and inlaid over 300 sheets of paper to create this space, which is accented by small paper sculptures within the frame. Over 40 bottles of UHU glue littered the floor when it came time to leave, and trashcans full of paper scraps. Over the next few days, we hope to complete one more large frame [1.4x2.7 meters], and a few small frames with designs based on our own ideas. This was a lot of work, and at times it was extremely hectic; one group gluing, another measuring, another cutting foam/paper/brass, another laying out the sheets, and another making sure they were all aligned properly. It’s a wonder we all fit in such a tiny room! At the end of the Tasmeem Conference, all of our work will be displayed in the room in which we are working now, within the Mathaf, for viewing by conference attendees as well as museum visitors. 2/5 of the way through our labs, and I can honestly say that my leaders have pushed our group far past our goals for the week. They aim to have us work hard and have pride in our work, so that we can feel satisfied with the results. This is very rewarding, because with the collaboration of a group, we can design and assemble large pieces in such a short amount of time. The piece itself has evidence of all the craft and articulate work that went into our lab this week.
This is one of the many buildings in education city, where the various Universities are located. They are typically built in the traditions of the Qatari culture, and I see this simply colored, yet complex design as a statement on their culture in general. They do not need to try hard in order to achieve success; it can be gained from a simple measure. This idea is emulated in their ways of life and the way they approach their world.
On our first day in the labs, my group [Lab I- India] jumped right in. I already talked a little bit about what exactly we’re doing, but here’s what my lab is about. Basically, we are creating 3D spaces by cutting and stacking paper and brass, representing the rapid development of Qatar. We’re working by creating 2D drawings of a specific “view”, then creating them with 3D software on a computer, and then “unrolling” them, or using the software to produce flat 2D shapes that can be cut and folded to produce a 3D model of our original view. This process is extremely time consuming, and involves a lot of technical knowledge, and simple reasoning. We’re expecting to create two large works be the end of the week to be put on display for the Conference talks and presentations this weekend. We’re using laser cutters to score and cut the paper and metals, which is extremely useful, but also very tedious. It means that every design has to be put into a computer file, which gives lots of room for error. We got a few layers cut and pieced together today, and should have the first frame completed by the end of the day tomorrow.