Category Archives: art

Digital Sahel

A heads up for the friends across the pond, I’ll be bringing some digital Sahel goodness to Europe for the next two weeks in Switzerland and France:

From Feb. 6th – 8th is Lift 13, a three day conference “exploring the business and social implications of digital technologies.” I’ll be speaking in a section called “Mobile Stories” about how the cellphone has been adapted in West Africa as, among other things, a music sharing device – and what this suggests to Western notions of copyright and file-sharing.

Continuing the tradition of music from cellphones, the Phono Mundial djs, DJ Cuica (Mississippi Records) and myself will be playing music on Saturday, Feb. 9th at La Surprise Partout #6 (Facebook) in Marseille.

Finally, in a brief stop in Paris at Le Comptoir Général “Sahel Digital Art” (Facebook) will be opening. Drawing on images from West Africa’s Sahel, collected via Facebook, it’s something between ethnography, folk art, and just some bad ass photoshop skills.

new media and imagined geographies

For those of you in the Northwest, I’ll be showing some of the best modern digital art from the Sahel — opening this Saturday at the new Portland Museum of Modern Art, “Azawad Libre! New Media and Imagined Geographies in the Sahel” draws from cellphone photography, Facebook profile graphics, and viral videos pouring out of Mali — demonstrating the innovative re-imagining of personal avatars as well as the political creation of a ‘digital’ Azawad, a new statehood unrecognized by the international community but thriving in the exchange of new media:

Built-in photo manipulation software has led to stylistic trends, combining personal photos with superimposed pixelated graphics. The recent proliferation of home PCs further introduces new techniques of photo manipulation. Utilizing software-based templates and automated web-based montage platforms, the personal identity is altered and re-imagined into new forms; desires, hopes, and dreams are expressed in hyper-real manifestations. Invoking colorful and sometimes garish worlds of montage, digital distortions and lens flares, the images are informed by Western cultural objects, yet liberated from the points of origin….Examining the rich content of the digital artifacts which circulate through the networks of the Sahel, Azwad Libre! considers not only the roles of new media and democratization of creative tools, but the beauty of uninhibited inspiration. (link)

The opening is on Saturday, November 17th at 7:30pm (facebook page) and the show will be running for a month, before traveling to a few other cities in the new year. ART.