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Arabic Numbers Connecting Art and Technology

Siemens FABRIC, a unique perspective on the beauty, magic and vitality of numbers, celebrates the story of numbers, how they have inspired people in our world for ages. Though numbers can be regarded as the backbone of our modern, digitally connected society, their impact is usually not clearly seen. Siemens FABRIC tries to unite art and technology to show the invisible. 

To do this, Siemens has partnered with calligrapher and artist Wissam Shawkat and KNOW Creative. The art of this project represents the basic code of digitalization and celebrates its link to Arabic culture. “All ten digits that we know and use – from 0 to 9 – were first created in the Arab world over 1,000 years ago,” Wissam says. “This numbering system spread from North Africa into Europe, eventually becoming almost universal. So, the zeroes and ones of modern digital code actually have their origins in Arabic history.”

“It’s incredible to think that behind something as complex as today’s modern digital world is something as simple as a chain of numbers,” says Siemens Middle East CEO Helmut von Struve. 

For this project, Wissam and KNOW Creative developed a series of ten calligraphic images on separate planes of glass. The images illustrate part of the blueprint of the Dubai Expo site. Visitors can see the images as a whole. Full of zeroes and ones, the layers of images overlap, forming a complete Expo blueprint. 

Wissam Shawkat was born in Basra in 1974 and since childhood he has been interested in calligraphy. He has become known for a new calligraphic style, Al Wissam, which references a number of traditional scripts including Sunbuli, Jali Diwani, Eastern Kufic, and Thuluth, bringing them together with modern design.

“I am a calligrapher turned conceptually motivated artist. How does someone self- trained in the most rigid, rule-based medium break out into abstraction? Now more than 30 years into my calligraphy practice, I dutifully studied traditional scripts, compositions, and forms until at last I felt qualified to judge which principles could be overridden and unbound, and which were to remain”, says Wissam Shawkat.

For those who are interested in calligraphy, we’d recommend to visit “In the love of Zayed”, an Arabic calligraphy exhibition.

 

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