The 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art will be truly memorable. Dubai and the UAE is the place that welcomes innovation and supports ideas that seem impossible. Everyday I am inspired about this location, which is infused with ever-changing ideas. When I arrived in Dubai in 2007, the art and culture scene began to flourish with the first major art fair, now Art Dubai, which instigated a flood of art galleries to open. Today there are a variety of galleries, institutions and initiatives that are helping to enrich the cultural fabric, and in particular encourage a young generation of practitioners.
The UAE’s short developing history of contemporary art and design is directly related to fundamental social and economic changes that have occurred over the past few decades, transitioning from a Bedouin trading center to modern trading cities. The world’s tallest building, mega shopping malls, and other urban developments have altered the desert landscape. Meeting places have moved to air conditioned locations and virtual platforms. Transport has expanded from ‘Ships of the Desert’ migrating through the vast dunes, to the most advanced metro system in the world. We are meeting in a location that continues to embrace its past as it moves forward.
ISEA2014’s over-arching theme “Location” references the nature of where the UAE positions itself. It is a major transfer hub, a meeting place where dreams can happen, but greater yet a place for innovation and change. This nomadic symposium is framed by seven subthemes that range in research questions, but are built with discussions on how we activate a place with breadth of community engagement and new technologies. It is an opportunity to access a wide range of ideas that can contribute to future goals and development.
Janet Bellotto, ISEA2014 Artistic Director and Interim Dean, Associate Professor College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University
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