Media Art in the California Desert:

Lover’s Rainbow by Pia Camil

Comprised of two identical rainbows in Baja, Mexico, and Coachella Valley, California, Pia Camil’s Lover’s Rainbow represents the hopes both realized and crushed amidst the harsh terrain and contentious political realities at the U.S.–Mexico Border. Made from rebar and inspired by abandoned homes Camil has seen around Mexico City, the rainbows evoke themes of construction and desertion. Engaged in a transnational conversation about connectivity and inclusivity, Camil’s sculptures aim to “re-insert” hope into the land.

Revolutions and Margin of Error by Nancy Baker Cahill

Set in two distinctive locations near the extreme poles of the Coachella Valley, the artist’s pieces use augmented reality, producing a singular experience for each viewer due to the ever-changing conditions of the desert. The work at the northern windfarms, Revolutions, alludes to the capturing of energy to remedy a man-made crisis. But in doing so, the net effect is disruptive to the flora and fauna of the region. The artist thinks of the drawings as a call-and-response of sorts. The work at the southern Salton Sea, Margin of Error, presents the toxic outcome of human progress leading to an environmental disaster. This experience will prompt viewers to ruminate on their own body within the scale and setting of the landscape, dwarfed by the implied giant-scale of the digital work.

Media Art in Saudi Arabia:

A Concise Passage by Rashed Alshashai

In the small desert town of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, a large ziggurat made from blue plastic crates stands at a height of 15 meters in the middle of a sandy valley. Dramatic and playful yet with a deeply resonant message, the work, by Saudi Arabian artist Rashed Al Shashai, and others on display reference the travel and cultural exchange that once occurred here—and perhaps can be reignited through artworks and discourse.

Al Shashai’s artwork, titled A Concise Package, speaks about the town’s history as a stop on the incense trade route that wound through the region, sheltering travelers from the harsh desert climate in the mountains. This work is part of the inaugural Desert X Al Ula, an art exhibition that, despite some controversy over its connection with the Saudi government, is proposing new ways of making and displaying art in the region.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t by Manal AlDowayan

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t, are the words that a humble puddle in the desert of Saudi Arabia would say to any of her curious visitors. The puddle is only ever here for a brief moment, formed as if by accident. This will never be its permanent home. The encounter with the unexpected puddle can suggest and carry a tremendous amount of information. It also instigates a range of ideas, thoughts that can disappear at any given a moment.
In urban spaces, puddles have a particular reputation; the puddle is not an innocent natural phenomenon. In cities, puddles are usually seen as the sign of an imperfection of design, or a failure in engineering. They are to be eradicated and avoided in most spaces inhabited by humans.

Here, AlDowayan presents a set of puddle-like installations designed to last for a few months; they do not belong to this landscape, and yet they appear, paused, contained, existing in the crevices of the AlUla rocks. The puddles are not real, but are made of massive trampolines that can be touched, laid upon, jumped on, and observed. In the evening, they become moon circles, activated through a series of lighting techniques as people interact with them. As encounters with the work becomes bodily, a physical exchange of cause and effect, awareness of the environment, its sensitivities, receptiveness, and actions are heightened.

Media Art in UAE:

– Holo Lumina: Sahara movements by Hybrid Xperience

In a project set in an area known as Dubai’s “Sahara” desert, Hybrid Xperience worked with three leading artists and two sound designers to create a mesmerising show as part of a Holo Lumina: Sahara movements” art project.
“The most challenging aspect of this project was bringing electricity to one of the most remote places on earth – the desert. We had to buy rechargeable batteries for each Hypervsn device as well as a backup because they wouldn’t last more than 30-45 minutes in one go. Next time we have already decided to get a proper generator that we can link all the holographic devices to and make such projects less hectic and time-consuming.”  — Roy Azzi, an event producer with Hybrid Xperience

– The Mastaba of Abu Dhabi (Project for United Arab Emirates) by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

A brightly-coloured ziggurat made from 410,000 250-litre steel barrels, Christo has designed The Mastaba to measure 150 metres high, 225 metres deep and 300 metres wide, creating an edifice that would dwarf even the largest of Egypt’s ancient pyramids after which it is named.

– The Seed in Abu Dhabi

It shows the evolution of a seed through various stages of its lifespan using light and sound and is nestled in a new beach area at the beautiful mangrove forest. 

Interesting Organization that has done a lot of projects in the desert:

  • Desert X

Desert X is produced by The Desert Biennial, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in California, conceived to produce recurring international contemporary art exhibitions that activate desert locations through site-specific installations by acclaimed international artists. Its mission is to create and present international contemporary art exhibitions that engage with desert environments through site-specific installations by acclaimed artists from around the world.

Categories: Art Outdoors


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