Iranian Women and Their Robots

The women are on board for the RoboCup IranOpen 2016, an international research and educational initiative whose purpose is to increase exploration of artificial intelligence along with supporting technology and engineering. And of course, being Iran, the presiding themes are those of domination of one group over another — conquering those who oppose you — aggressively undermining opponents — or, as they like to call it, soccer. read more

Architecture as Weaponry: Devastation by Design

The documentary, Rebel Architecture — The Architecture of Violence, by journalist and filmmaker Ana Naomi de Sousa features Israeli architect Eyal Weizman who describes how architecture and urban planning are deployed as an instruments of violence and control. By examining how Israel divides land; installs roads, highways, walls, and fences; commands hilltops, and strategically designs homes and its settlements, we see how architecture and urban planning are used to enact ongoing and effective engulfing of the Occupied Territories and enacting chaos among Palestinian residents. read more

Akram Abu al-Fawz Repurposes Syria’s War Weaponry Into Art Objects

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It is estimated that more that a quarter of a million people have died, and eleven million are displaced in what is now five years of civil war in Syria with no end in sight. With the well-documented dispossession and death, however, comes creative reinterpretation of the war-torn landscape and the deadly weapons that deliver this destruction. Artist Akram Abu al-Fawz collects remnants of weaponry and transforms them into objects of art, adorning them with arabesque motifs and perhaps re-rendering them in motifs that immobilize their destructive meaning. read more

An Animated Portrayal of Life Played Out on a Bullet Timeline by Filmmaker Khaled Abdulwahed

Syrian-born Kkaled Abdulwahed comes from a graphic design communications background, but has created striking video pieces that look directly at life through the lens of war. This piece, Bullet, combines hand-drawn animation with graffiti and uses a bullet-symbol as a timeline projectile traveling through life impacting people, facilitating authority and power, and finally bringing with it, death. The heart, a common icon of social positiveness and well-being, and butterflies, symbols of childhood innocence, are defended and defeated as the bullet glides through this narrative, now three years old and still completely relevant. read more

Egyptian Animator, Mokhtar Talaat, Creates Two, Finalist TROPFEST Arabia

Egyptian artist and animator, Mokhtar Talaat, created this very great stop-motion film, and being an animation aficionado and wannabe animator myself, I understand the enormous effort required to create this short piece. His story tells of a dad and daughter family team without mom, and we see a common story of a highly creative and precocious kid trying to break through dad’s work for some attention. Both are occupied with what they create, and preoccupation gives way to collaboration.

I know little of Mokhtar Talaat or his Mokaabat Studio, but I hope he creates more animation, and that he gets support from other filmmakers, musicians, and sponsors too.

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