How does bringing an artwork outside change its interaction with people and the environment? What new possibilities exist if we create an electronic artwork that can travel with us and be installed anywhere? Desert Media Art is a production based course where students research, propose, produce, install, and document an electronic artwork designed for Abu Dhabi’s desert. The desert is an iconic landscape with a rich history of use by artists as an alternative to the white box of the gallery. We will study historical and contemporary outdoor art practices as well as local ecology and culture. Students will work in groups to create an electronic artwork that is battery powered and ready to be taken into the field. The project will be installed in the desert, documented, and then presented in an indoor exhibition. Technologies used will include CircuitPython, 3D printing for enclosure design, rapid prototyping using laser cutting, battery power, and video production. Students will not just build a project and install it in the field, but also learn how to communicate their work to the public using video documentation and indoor exhibition.

Desert Media Art is taught by Michael Ang at New York University Abu Dhabi’s Interactive Media program.

Desert Media Art Student Projects

حكايـــــة (Hekaya) – Telling collected Emirati stories

Desert Whispers – Augmented plant communicates its boundaries

Luminous Rhythms – Connecting desert wanderers through interactive drums

NOMAD – Rediscovering a Lost Earth

Student Projects 2022

The Oasis – Night blooming robotic flower

Descendant of Desert – Dystopian future wearable

Arth-E – Anxious desert robot

When Life Meets Life – Interactive desert pyramids

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