Playing with Minarets!

What is the main function of a Minaret? 

What does it symbolise? 

With all the technology in hand... Do we still need it today? 

What if the linear structure can be transformed or used in a different way? 

What if architecture played a modular role for design? 

Can we look at minarets differently? or in different settings? 

 

Below are playful prototypes for re-imagining the minarets.... (Or maybe just an attempt to validate procrastination in my research!) 

 

Writing Retreat

Two months ago I participated in one of the most useful and creative workshops for academics... Dr. Helen Kara offered us a "writing retreat" through which we had hands-on exercises that helped us visualize the writing process. 

The exercises were creative in the sense that it made writing process - which seems usually frustrating - feels simple, and not as complicated as we usually feel. 

One of the exercises started with free writing of what we do, what we want to achieve and our daily "work ritual", then we cut off all the words we've written to make a short poem (or Haiku) out of them... 

After we were all done, Dr. Helen Kara pointed: "the pile of words that you haven't used are the amount of work/text you have, and the poem you made is your thesis!" 

Suddenly the amount of work was justified, yet it was necessarily to put it into perspective ever so creatively... ! 

Dr Helen Kara have many publications, as well as her own official website: 

https://helenkara.com

@drhelenkara

Another website recommended by her is The Thesis Whisperer: 

https://thesiswhisperer.com

 

 

 

Inside the world of Ibn Arabi

 
 

It was on one April weekend in a quite area in London when I was introduced to the world of Ibn Arabi, and ever since I have been a person with a different view of the world than before. 

It was a casual setting; the room has cushions and lanterns around the corners... Amber infusions fill the space while the room softly soak in the daylight from outside... 

The reading group consisted of 8 people coming from different walks of life... It was intimate, and that was necessary as it spread along two full days of reading the Introduction of the Metaphysics of Ibn Arabi's Unity of Being. Some were coming for their second or third time to the reading session, and some like me, were walking into this vast world for the first time. 

As an artist-in-research, it was essential to delve into the world of Ibn Arabi and understand his premises as “first-hand” user of his knowledge. Ibn Arabi, "named the Great Scholar", was considered one of the main scholars in Islam who combined strands of knowledge in metaphysics, cosmology, philosophy in Islamic doctrines. Thus, it was important to understand the essence of his philosophy that was the main inspirational source for Islamic creative concepts in order to know how to expand it... and be inspired by it..

Much of what Ibn Arabi was describing feel so natural, so simple, yet very complex and layered. The reading was quite intense in the sense that it pushes intellectual boundaries to understand the Islamic philosophy of Being and Reality of the existing world. Being in a group setting helped a lot in trying to understand certain meanings and collectively analyzing parts of the text from different perspectives. 

While reading I found myself visualizing and sketching some diagrams to understand certain meanings in the text. Even with massive amount of information and findings, I found myself at ease at the end of the session. Suddenly the fast pace of everyday life slowed down and everything around me was a window to self-contemplation.

 To know more about the reading and zikr sessions visit: 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/188255528207134/

 

Conversation with an Atheist

I normally tend to change where I spend my time reading or writing for my research ... Ever since I started my PhD journey, however, I got used to work in one of the independent coffee shops in Birmingham... It feels good to be part of a "micro-metropolitan" community... I got to meet people from all walks of life... 

One would probably wonder how is this related to my research; but lately I had the pleasure of having several conversations about religion with a Jew, a believer (someone who believes that there is God but chose not to choose a religion), and even an atheist. 

Although these conversations are somehow random and do not necessarily relate to my research question, they help me put things in perspective not only as Muslim, but also as a Muslim artist...

 

Although - in general terms- my religious views might probably conflict strongly with an atheist, somehow in these conversations we share a time of respect and coexistence... We all share the same "quest" to make sense of who we are and what we believe in... And the more we know about each other, the more we know about our self.

 

Call it cosmic rule...

or human connection... 

What matters is what can we find about ourselves through it... 

 

 
 

 

 

Synthesizing through Visuals....

So here I am trying to read about spirituality in Islamic art and design, I am currently reading this interesting book by Ardalan and Bakhtiar (see below) which examines the Sufi approach for the sense of unity in Architecture... 

What I found intriguing is how reading this book stimulates my mind in different directions; the rich visuals and deep philosophical text are inspiring so much that I want to create artworks of what I am synthesizing throughout the book... 

So much of what I am reading feels so simple if it was translated into visual medium... For they can send the message and the content not only artistically appealing but also layered with multiple dimensions. 

It would be very interesting to examine how Muslim, artists, designers, architects, and students in such fields interpret historical information about Islamic art and design... The whole idea of investigating the creative process of syntheses and artistic production is an area of special interest for me. I have a feeling that - in a way- it will be embedded throughout my research... 

For now, I loose myself in this book... and I feel good about it... ! 

Tam

 Visual extracts that will find their place somehow in my visual diary... 

Visual extracts that will find their place somehow in my visual diary... 

Reference: 

Ardalan, N. and Bakhtiar, L. (1973). The sense of unity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mind maps and process...

I have always admired London Underground System, and the way it connects the large city through intertwined lines, while the map is graphically illustrated to be easily accessed and comprehended by anyone, no matter where do they come from. Even though it is a complex map, anyone can know where to go and how to navigate through the city. 

This has been the main inspiration when I was asked to document my own creative process; I had to research about design thinking and process and what I found out is that while some people propose a linear approach in creativity, others suggested a more organic approach that is very personalized and can take different directions. What I found in London Tube Map is the closest system to what happens in my head; because one can linger on a thought for while, then wind up drifting to a completely new thought. So taking my practice-based research as "the city", I can take one "line of thoughts", move on, or step backward, or take a completely different thread. 

Later on I started challenging this system each time I started a project, and guess what, it works perfectly each time! So here I am again arguing that it could be used as a map to plan my practice-based research, considering that the research itself is a design project of its own. 

 

 

Mindmap Key: 

Yellow: literature review

Green: Methodology

Brown: Document-loo

Blue: Research Outcomes

 

From this map it began a fascination journey with creative process and how artists/ designers think. I feel that this will find its way to be evident throughout my research, and explore how I, among others, can work together in a creative project.  

Prelude

 

Since I am approaching my PhD thesis through practice-based approach, I thought it would be beneficial to record my process through a blog - though I am not an expert in that area- but I hope that I can look back at the blog posts here to see how far I come, and not to loose sight of what was motivating me to take an academic research path in the subject I am interested in... 

I hope this could also create bridges between me and the amazing people out there who are also approaching the subject through their own creative styles and efforts... 

Having said that, this blog is an open area for inspiration, discussion and brainstorming. I am very open to any suggestions or projects that can feed into my research so if you are interested to be part of it in any way do not hesitate to contact me. 

For an introduction about what I am doing as PhD research check out my work page.