by Fahed Al-Sumait
Nobody saw him coming. Then out of nowhere, the professor charged into the fray armed with bags of colored powder and an unexpected level of energy for someone of his generation. The students quickly swarmed and began hurling clouds of color at him like a pastel storm. But the academic held his own as he nimbly darted through the crowd with a seemingly unlimited supply of the pernicious powder. Soon, everyone on the field looked like rainbow-dyed bush warriors, beaming with smiles and the odd splash of color in their teeth.
This “celebration of color” was one of several events held by students and faculty at the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) as part of their visual communication conference, entitled The SEEN, held from April 13-15. The SEEN included speakers, workshops, art exhibits, and entertainment events opened to the public that were designed to showcase local creative talents in the field of visual communication. The goal was to inspire creativity, show what the field has to offer, and to give insight into where it is heading next.
The three-day conference was a collaborative effort between local professionals, university faculty and GUST students who organized The SEEN around three aspects that cut across all visual professions: Inspiration, Innovation and Imagination. Each day, speakers and workshops addressed one of these themes to highlight current trends in a range of visual “scenes,” such as graffiti, film, calligraphy, architecture, cartoons, illustration, PR, photography, fashion and others.
Such elements of visual culture are rapidly gaining prominence in Kuwait as local artists incorporate new technologies, media forms, and ideas into their work across a variety of creative pursuits. Local speakers representing these trends included creator of the world-acclaimed comic book series THE 99 Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, political cartoonist Bader Bin Gaith, photographer Abdulaziz Alduwaisan, co-founder of AOK Architecture Abdulaziz Al-Kandari, independent filmmaker Abdulrahman Al Kulafi and many others. There were also workshops on graphic design, graffiti, Arabic calligraphy, magazine cover design, mind mapping, and aesthetics.
As with its inaugural event, The SEEN conference culminated with even more demonstrations of color. But rather than hurling colored powder at their professors, this time students gathered in scores for a live graffiti demonstration by Yousef Saleh and Mohammed Abuhakmeh, AKA “Monstariam,” who filled a large three-part canvas with street art celebrating The SEEN.
“Our students were great,” explained Dr. Fahed Al-Sumait, Head of the Mass Communication and Media Department at GUST, which spearheaded the event. “They brought together some incredible creative professionals, they helped design the materials, publicize the events and then film the entire process. It was a great chance to move out of the classroom and apply ourselves to an event with broad appeal and social significance.”
The event was sponsored by GUST’s Office of Student Life, 4Films and 4Fest printers, the Center for the Arts, ACICO, Khaleejesque magazine, Tap, and GUST’s Media Club. Additional speakers featured over the three days included graphic designers Hanan Abbas, Suad Al Fraih, Fatema Yousef and Faisal Al Ali; PR professionals Dana Mado and Bader Al Essa; artists Abdulrahman Al Sultan and Abrar Zenkawi; art directors Romain Danger, Patrick Semaan and Hind Al Turkait; as well as photographer Farah Haider, owner of Pink Coffee Marketing and PR Shamlan Al Bahr, Film CEO of Brand Productions and producer Meshari Al Mutawa, and managing partner of Khayal Consultants Waleed Abu-Gazaleh. Workshops were led by Jassim Al Nasrallah, Yousef Saleh, “Monstariam,” Antonia Jolic, Dr. Yasser Abdulrahim, Lisa Winstanley and Mirna Kataya.
“In today’s world, visual messages are a very important way to communicate and get people’s attention. This conference showed how creative professionals are using the power of visuals to make an impact,” said Antonia Jolic, lead organizer of The SEEN and faculty member in GUST’s Mass Communication and Media Department. “It also gives our students a better understanding of the possibilities offered by their degree”.
The conference organizers chose the title “The Seen” to describe how talented designers and entrepreneurs from across the country will have a chance to be “seen” at this event, as well as implying the idea of a “scene” that reflects a social trend, such as the art scene, the film scene, or the fashion scene.
For more information, please visit the website: http://theseen.gust.edu.kw