I have just returned from Malaysia from the World Islamic Economic Forum, which takes place in various cities around the world every year. It features mostly speakers exploring business and finance, but for the past few years they have incorporated the creative industry as part of the program. Artistic director Asad Jafri (formerly working with IMAN in Chicago) was running the creative element, so was more than happy to be on board with someone like that heading it. He was responsible in leading a festival in Chicago called Taking It To The Streets, where the likes of Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco were headline acts, so I had faith that this was going to be an epic event. He pulled together artists from around the globe, and i was one of those.
I exhibited a collection of brand new canvas as part of the visual arts exhibition, but for the main program I decided to offer something different. Thesedays I have been dabbling in bringing together different mediums such as sound, video, theatre and performing arts to deliver immersive experiences, sometimes in theatres, sometimes in public spaces, galleries or museums. I am kind of drawing on my experience from working in the games industry, 5 years doing graphics for games. Now it was time to apply that knowledge of immersing the user into a different dimension. It was time for art to meet technology to meet spirituality, to create a unique digital, interactive sound and video instalation.
Over the past few years, aside from painting murals on the side of buildings, I have been exploring how art can wrap around a cube structure, not as four individual paintings on each face of the cube, but rather how one piece of art unravels around each corner. I’ve painted these cubes in places like Sweden, Oman and the UK, where the cube have sat in public squares. I then explored how i could spin the cube in front of a live audience, how the viewer didn’t have to walk around the cube, but i could bring all four faces of the cube to the viewer. So then came the ‘Spinning Cube’ where i painted live as a performance – but collaborated with a poet and a percussion as part of the ‘live experience’
But at WIEF, the DreamCube was born. Where the view could enter inside the cube. We always ask, what is inside the box? The box always contains a surprise, presents are wrapped inside of a box, jewels are kept inside of a box… So it was time to take the audience inside of the box and take them to a different place.
To sum it up – its a digital sound and visual installation, that is interactive. The audience upon entering the cube, in transported into another dimension. I created an intimate experience, using colours, lighting, sound and visuals to create a unique expeirence inside the cube. The user, once inside, is encouraged to respond in two ways: a) Chosing a marker pen provided to scribe their visions of the future onto the walls b) Tweet their visions of the future onto the hashtag #DreamCube, communicating with people globally, as well as the tweets being projected onto a screen inside of the cube for others to see that enter inside. (Check out the tweets that came through > )
The concept of the ‘Dream Cube’ was inspired by Martin Luther Kings speech – ‘I have a dream…’ The need to dream, the need to hold onto our dreams and visions and work towards fulfilling those dreams. So i wanted to give people the space to Dream of whatever they wanted, to make their dreams public, no matter how random they were. Inside the cube, you can hear the poets voices echoing phrases like ‘What is your dream?” ‘Hold onto your dreams’, ‘Express your inner-thoughts and visions’.
It took many months of editing sound and video to create the video/soundtrack that people saw and heard upon entering. I recorded sounds and video from 6 different artists from around the world to contribute to the experience.
The poets and lyricists were as follows:
Tshaka Campbell (USA)
Shinji Moriwaki (Malaysia)
David J Pugilist (UK)
Mark Gonzales (USA)
MC Conrad (UK)
Liza Garza (USA)
How the arts combined with technology can truly touch the human soul, was something very powerful to witness. I spoke to people upon stepping out of the cube, that were visibly moved and sometimes emotional. People spoke of how the closed space inside forced them to reflect on the sights and sounds witnessed, and made them feel things they had never felt before. Human beings want to express themselves, want to write their words and project their inner thoughts – but never have the space to do so. Here inside this cube was the rare opportunity to do so, either anonymously scribing their words literally onto the walls – or digitally into the virtual world-wide-web. It is an innate part of human nature to leave your mark and project your visions. The DreamCube allowed people to do that, to ‘Think Inside of the Box’.
I’m grateful to WIEF for making this happen for the first time, and all the support given by their team, especially Asad Jafri. Also the poets that contributed with their recordings, without their contribution – the experience would not have been as powerful.
The DreamCube has only just been born, Already there are others waiting to host the DreamCube. The next appearance of the cube will take place in Malaysia once again on December 29th/30th in Putra Jaya International Convention Centre for the Twins of Faith event. Come and experience it for yourself. We won’t be putting up many pictures or video of it online. We would rather you experience the DreamCube in person.