The Cairo International Electronic and New Media Arts Symposium (Cairo Tronica) opened on 3 May at the Culture Ministry’s Palace of Arts in the grounds of the Cairo Opera House, and runs until 17 May. Held under the auspices of Culture Minister Helmy al-Namnam, Cairo Tronica has been jointly organised by the American University in Cairo (AUC) and the Ministry of Culture’s Sector of Fine Arts and Palace of Arts.
Participating in the symposium are the Plymouth University, the US Embassy in Cairo, the British Council in Cairo, the [French] Institut Français en Egypte, the [German] Goethe Institut, the [Swiss] Prohelvetia, the Japan Foundation and the [Italian] Istituto Italiano di Cultura.
Cairo Tronica is a hub bringing together groundbreaking artists, pioneering engineers, ingenious designers, academics, international digital communities, students, art lovers, and more from across Egypt, Africa, the Middle East and the world. Throughout two weeks, participants have been sharing, discussing, learning, talking and working, in an attempt to connect their different artistic visions to academic, business, scientific and educational practices. The focus of the symposium has been innovation and creativity. Under the common interest of electronic arts exploration, it has aimed to inspire, educate, and challenge students and audiences from across the region using a plethora of activities, exhibitions, performances, debates, workshops and screenings.
Audiences have been exposed to the latest in electronic arts installations in an interactive environment. They have also been treated to exhibitions, screenings and out-door performances.
According to Haytham Nawwar, Cairo Tronica’s Director, this year’s theme has been “To Connect”. ‘Connect’ refers to connecting the dots: connecting disciplines, people, artists and nations. The past will connect with the future, history will connect with the present, art will connect with technology and new media, tradition will connect with modernity, and Cairo will connect with the world.
The symposium, Nawwar explained, is divided into four sections, including an exhibition, a three-day international academic conference, film screenings and workshops.
The conference was organised in cooperation with the Planetary Collegium, Plymouth University, UK, and focused on Art and Consciousness in the Post- Biological Era. The workshop activities were conducted by local and international artists or experts and have covered different subjects in digital media to help young artists and students learn more about electronic art techniques.
Among the topics broached during the two-week symposium have been gaming, tactical media, artificial life, artificial intelligence, robotics, databases, data visualisation, and new media versus cultural heritage.
The symposium was well attended; a large portion of the attendants were young men and women. A common complaint, however, was that much of the activities and discussions were too academic; a number of young people who talked to Watani said that they realised the significance of the topics discussed but in many instances found them hard to follow or understand. They expressed a wish that future symposia would offer material that would be more accessible, and that more of it would be offered in Arabic not only in English as has been the case in the current symposium.
Mr Nawwar said Cairo Tronica will be held biennially.
11 May 2016