Locally-flavoured audio tracks set to inspire global audience

‘Sonic Jeel’, an artist collective made up of students, faculty and alumni from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), has been invited to perform virtually on ‘The Stage’ as part of the New York-based Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair (PMVABF) this 24 to 28 February.

The Qatar-based collective’s performance – slated for Sunday, 28 February – will be part of a lineup of artists and exhibitors from over 40 countries for the international event that traditionally has a physical presence in New York. This year will be the first time that Printer Matter’s popular art fair is held solely online. Aside from Sonic Jeel, legendary American editor, writer, interviewer, musician V Vale of RE/Search Publications, and the mystic Laraaji who specialises in piano, zither and mbira, will also be joining the fair.

Audio-visual experience with local flavour

Sonic Jeel 2Viewers and sound design enthusiasts tuning in from across the world to watch Sonic Jeel will be served up an audio-visual experience with a local flavour – the collective’s entire 45-minute performance was filmed over a three-day period against the backdrop of Alkoot Fort near Souq Waqif, and the Qatar Art Center. The performance will feature curated tracks from Sonic Jeel’s upcoming vinyl album to be released this Spring.

VCUarts Qatar faculty members Michael Hersrud, Simone Muscolino and Hadeer Omar, joined students Latifa Al Sulaiti, Naima Almajdobah and Maryam Altajer, and alumni Marwa Al Kalbani, Reham Mohamed, Sarah Elawad, and Sara Al Afifi in the Sonic Jeel recordings.

For Graphic Design student Latifa Al Sulaiti, the experience provided proof of the versatility of design in areas related to technology. She said she was thrilled to be part of an event that breaks the stereotypes of traditional art and design.

Graphic Design graduate Reham Mohamed was one of the alumni invited to take part in the recording – an opportunity which she describes as nothing short of a blast! The elective, according to her, opened up the way for experimental design with the incorporation of sound and graphic visuals.

As graphic designers we became music creators, performers, visualizers, you name it! The fluidity, the opportunities we are exposed to while at VCUarts Qatar is awesome – and that’s something that Sonic Jeel extends to the local community in Doha and the wider region.

Sonic Generation

Sonic Jeel – Jeel means ‘generation’ in Arabic – was started three years ago by VCUarts Qatar faculty Hersrud and Muscolino. The collective explores sound, electronic music, hybrid-media and audio-visual subculture in Qatar and the Middle East region.

Conceived as a research project and an educational endeavour, Sonic Jeel oversees an interdisciplinary elective course – titled ‘Sonic Exploration’ – that is open to all art and design students at VCUarts Qatar who are keen to design sound. Experimental audio work produced by students in this course become part of an ongoing SoundCloud archive.

Hersrud explained that the collective afforded students an opportunity to work with emergent technologies. As part of these programmes, students and faculty were able to explore new forms of emergent media, from physical computing to coding, to sound, to virtual reality, to projection mapping. This project integrated several of these areas.

For instance, the audio tracks produced by Sonic Jeel are not only an exploration of sound but examine various software and hardware tools that use automation and generative processes to create beats, rhythms and noise. The tracks are complemented by choreographed projections – a process overseen by media artist and VCUarts faculty Hadeer Omar – to map architectural spaces in real-time.

Working with emergent technologies in a collaborative and hybrid scenario is the future of creative practice for artists and designers, and we intend to expand these initiatives toward more media offerings at VCUarts Qatar in the future.

Printed Matter, Inc

Printed Matter is the world’s leading non-profit organisation dedicated to the distribution, understanding and appreciation of art books. Since 2005, Printed Matter’s Art Book Fairs have been hosting international exhibitors featuring a wide variety of published works – from zines and artists’ books to rare and out-of-print publications and contemporary art editions.

This year’s online presence means that even more exhibitors and visitors will be able to access and participate in the fair.

Over the course of the five-day-fair, PMVABF will turn into an expo of sorts, allowing visitors to learn about and purchase contemporary art books from around the world. Visitors can attend dozens of free live and pre-recorded programmes, chat directly with artists and publishers from across time zones, play games to discover new books, enjoy performances and connect with other visitors.

For access to the live stream on Sunday, 28 February, visit pmvabf.org.

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