Mid-point review

In the last few months I have successfully explored new areas of research and practice in regards to the area of ‘Islamic Art’. Before I explain how these have been useful and led me to my current place in my project I would like to touch on why I put ‘Islamic Art’ in apostrophes.

One of my objectives in this project is to identify and place my own work under the label of Islamic Art. But I’ve discovered that the definition for this is varied and differs amongst different groups; these being the general public, artists, scholars, institutional staff/researchers and those of the Islamic faith – Muslims. The main difference is that not all agree that the works need to necessarily be ‘Islamic’, whether this is correct or not I cannot dictate but I can justify my opinions, which is exactly what I find myself doing when looking at current artists’ work.

As I feel quite strongly about the conditions that are required for art to be of an ‘Islamic’ nature I am in a position where I feel a redefinition is required.

I have reached this conclusion after looking at what others in the word of art say, and looking at what current artists say about their own work and with the knowledge I have of the Islamic faith. A previous post where I have discussed this in further detail can be read here: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/back-to-basics-what-is-islamic-art/

The anchor for my project is the geometric patterns which I am using to focus on the subject of Islamic belief. There are some very strong symbolic and philosophical ideas that have been and continue to be represented through geometric patterns and the theories behind these are vast.

The one recurring theme is the idea of infinity. In the examples below where I have explored the traditional methods for producing Islamic patterns (the process of which can be read about here), I have been able to see how a grid-like formation of basic shapes can be developed to produce a wondrous and continuous pattern whereby the viewer is reminded of the eternal presence of God, the boundaries put in place by the artist being the breaking of the pattern, perhaps in the same way as our perception of God and his all encompassing nature is limited by the capacity of our minds.

At a lower level, the patterns also reflect the simple beauty of nature, where the symmetry and arrangement of shapes bring to mind, for example, the structure of flowers.

Pattern cut out from black card

Pattern cut out from black card, the effect of light and shadows being cast here is quite interesting

The final pattern seen with a cream sheet of paper beneath the black cut-out

The final pattern seen with a cream sheet of paper beneath the black cut-out

This is the pattern in it's drawn form - using the cut out as a template

This is the pattern in it's drawn form - using the cut out as a template

In relation to the above ideas, I would therefore like to question if the potential audience/viewer will be able to identify the work as being ‘Islamic Art’ and if not, how might this be achieved?

Will the audience be able to perceive the underlying themes without needing explanations?

Is this too much to expect?

At the very least I would like the viewer to appreciate the visual combination of the shapes within the pattern and hopefully understand the necessity for accuracy, perfection and harmony in the placement of those shapes to create the final pattern.

The next stage in this project is to transfer these patterns to a digital medium and to present them in some sort of interactive manner. There are many ways I can do this and I am mostly intrigued by the possibilities of involving the viewer so that there is direct manipulation of the artwork.

Another aspect of these patterns is the way in which it can sometimes appear as if it contains 3D elements. It could then also be possible to explore how a 2d pattern could be bought in to the 3D realm. One way I can convey this is in the image below where three 2D parts of the above pattern are placed in such a way that the whole looks like a cube.

3d cube effect

3d cube effect

This would be another interesting area to experiment with.

In conclusion, I would like to gauge the views of the audience to this kind of artwork and use the early reactions of my peers as a way to make informed decisions about the final outcome for the interactive work I produce.

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