Digital Art Festival – the first of its kind – concluded in Lahore, having welcomed successfully over 25,000 visitors across its nine venues, including Lahore Museum, and art galleries, according to organizers of the event.
Art enthusiasts from various walks of life, ranging from teenagers and young artists to families and the general public, experienced marvels of digital art. Celebrating convergence of art and technology, the four-day festival showcased creative prowess of 74 artists from 14 nations, amplifying universality of the art form.
Shoaib Iqbal points out intersection of art and technology, focus on themes of poetics, polemics, and programmatic
With a commendable 1.5 million interactions, ripple effect of the Digital Art Festival was felt online as well, the organizers told Jarida Daily. It is noted that the audience, especially the younger people, was particularly enchanted by the interactive digital installations.
The digital artists from various countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, and others, visited different venues of the festival and interacted with the visitors. Participants took immense interest in the digital artworks and innovative ideas of the bright artists.
The festival provided a thought-provoking display of artwork, which generated creative inquires, stimulating dialogues and a collective thought of the collaborative journey within this realm. “We experienced work of a German artist. When we touched metal balls, they drew energy from us to produce music and made great artworks on the screen. It was really good experience,” Ammara Khan, a university student, recounted her experience at Aangun.
Digital Art Festival Director Shoaib Iqbal said that the four-day activities have broadened horizons for the local artist community as they have witness amalgamation of technology with the art. He said that an international conference held on second day was a remarkable event that explored intersection of art and technology, focusing on the themes of poetics, polemics, and programmatic.
Najam Ul Assar says he is optimistic about festival becoming a cornerstone for Lahore’s art sector in years to come
In his remarks, curator Najam Ul Assar said that it’s heartening to see the excitement and exceptional response from the local community as well as the foreign artists. “We are optimistic about the festival becoming a cornerstone for Lahore’s art sector in the years to come,” he said, as four renowned universities from Lahore have expressed keenness to host the forthcoming edition.
Additionally, the Punjab Arts Council has shown interest in expanding this cultural fiesta to other regions of the province, leveraging its existing infrastructure. “I am immensely pleased to have visited the Digital Arts Festival to see that such a technological transformation in art discipline has successfully been undertaken,” Syed Bilal Haider, executive director of the Punjab Art Council, said while appreciating the innovative festival.
“To support such initiative, strengthen its outcomes and scale out its impact, are the areas where the government should, and it will, step forward and share the responsibility, from the front,” he said. “We are motivated to take it further from here in collaboration with our stakeholders and activists in policy community, besides the festival’s management as one of the most productive partners,” he said.
During four-day, the festival remained open to the public at all the nine locations, including Aangun – Center for Learning and Culture, Beaconhouse National University, Daftarkhwan Downtown, HAAM Gallery, Institute of Art and Culture, National College of Arts, Numaish Gah, The Colony, and the Lahore Museum, providing a unique opportunity for everyone to experience and engage with the world of digital arts.
Lahore Museum hosted the opening ceremony of the city-wide celebration of emerging digital art scene in Pakistan’s cultural capital. In the inaugural ceremony, the organizing team introduced the participating artists and talked about the ambition behind the initiative. Welcoming the guests, Lahore Museum Director Muhammad Usman said that the blend of art with technology surely would open new avenue for the future endeavors.
“We, surrounded by creative energy of artists from around the world, are reminded of the incredible power of human ingenuity to bridge the gaps between the physical and digital realms,” he said. Established in 1855, “the Lahore Museum stands as a testament to our commitment to preserving and promoting art, culture, and history,” he told the audience. “Our mission is to inspire and educate generations, fostering an appreciation for the rich tapestry of human civilization.”
The director said that the museum has always been a space that celebrates diversity and encourages dialogue between cultures. “It is a repository of our shared heritage, a place where the past and the present converge to offer us insights into our collective identity and the trajectories of our evolving societies,” he said.
“Digital Art Festival is a testament to our commitment to embracing the digital revolution, recognizing that art is not confined to canvases and sculptures alone but extends to the boundless possibilities of the digital realm,” he said, adding that it is crucial to recognize the long-term benefits that events like this digital festival bring to Pakistani society. He said that the fusion of art and technology not only sparks creativity and innovation but also creates opportunities for collaboration, learning, and personal growth.
Ayesha Mubarack Ali and Dr Faisal Khan focus on future of digital arts and trans-disciplinarity within digital realm
Organized by the Digital Arts Festival, Politics of Machine, and Mariam Dawood School of Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University, an international conference brought together experts and dignitaries, including keynote address by immersive art pioneers Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, followed by a thought-provoking speech by Rashid Rana.
Esteemed panelists, including Justine Emard, Agnes Michalczyk, Ahmed Raza Hashmi and Ayesha Mubarack Ali led an engaging panel discussion on ‘Alt+Ctrl+Del – Rebooting the digital arts conversation’, challenging norms and offering fresh perspectives on the confluence of digital arts and technology.
Attendees had the opportunity to explore the Metaverse Bodies exhibition, curated by Aarish Sardar and works of Stefano Fake, AB Rehman, Sushiman Rinoshan, Muhammad Attique, and Rida Ahsan, among others, providing a blend of technology and art. Hackathons delved into the sub-themes of poetics, polemics, and programmatics, fostering innovation and creativity in the field of digital arts and beyond.
Gillian Rhodes shared valuable insights into the digital art industry in Pakistan, shedding light on its growth and potential. The conference concluded with a compelling panel discussion featuring Morten Sondergaard, Stefano Fake, Daud Randle, Aarish Sardar, Rohma Khan, and Gillian Rhodes, moderated by Quddus Mirza, further exploring the conference’s themes and future digital arts directions.
Keynotes by Ayesha Mubarack Ali and Dr Faisal Khan focused on the future of digital arts and trans-disciplinarity within the digital realm. The conference was a groundbreaking event, uniting local and foreign speakers, academics, artists, and designers. It has significantly contributed to the global dialogue on the intersection of art, technology, and culture.
Umair Mushtaq says it’s all about nurturing an appreciation for an art form that’s continually evolving on global stage
Looking back at the journey, head of production Umair Mushtaq said that organizing this four-day festival has been a rewarding experience. “Witnessing the audience’s reception to avant-garde digital art pieces, many of which were introduced to the local populace for the first time, has been truly gratifying,” he said, adding that it’s all about nurturing an appreciation for an art form that’s continually evolving on the global stage.
Amanat Ali, Nadeem Riaz, Ahsan Mehmood, Mudassar Malik, Ghulam Abass and other artists also performed during a musical evening at Aangun. All the singers performed soulful songs and received applause for excellent performance, as the musical event was attended by large number of the participants. With its debut marked by overwhelming success, the organizers confirmed that the Digital Art Festival will return, further establishing Lahore as a nexus of digital art in the region.
The organizers said that the festival was supported by the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) Cluster Fund, to produce an ambitious program of activities, including a research report, and an international conference. The project was also supported by EUNIC Cluster – Pakistan members, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the Czech Republic, Germany and the Goethe Institute, as well as the Delegation of the European Union.