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Sharjah Light Festival at AUS: The story behind the lights
American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) iconic Main Building has been a major feature in this year’s Sharjah Light Festival (SLF). The annual festival attracts throngs of visitors as major architectural landmarks around the emirate are lit up with artistically themed productions of music and skillfully choreographed light projections.
This year, Sharjah Light Festival selected a team of 12 students from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at AUS to work with featured multimedia artist Mathieu Felix to create their own projections, resulting in the breathtaking light show entitled “A Journey from Sharjah to America.” Lighting up the façade of the university’s Main Building, the show takes audiences on a roundtrip flight from Sharjah to America, traveling far but confirming the students’ deep relationship with the UAE.
Third-year student of multimedia design at CAAD Lama Kadri said the opportunity to take part in an event as significant as SLF was one that could not be missed.
“To have your name associated with a grand project such as SLF opens a lot of opportunity for a young designer. Initially, the idea of adding more work to the already existing workload was daunting, but, when you see your design displayed on the AUS Main Building it makes things worth the trouble,” said Kadri.
“It was also a pleasure working with Mr. Felix. Meeting him on the first day of work was a pleasant experience, as it showed us how friendly he is and how knowledgeable he is about projection mapping,” she said.
A return visitor to Sharjah, Felix, a French artist based in Barcelona, has extensive experience in motion graphics and has participated in SLF now for five consecutive years. The artist collaborated with the students from a distance, challenging their skills in communication, time management and efficiency.
Working also under the guidance of Assistant Professor Frederic Gmeiner at CAAD, the students were heavily involved in every aspect of design and production, starting with research on the city or state chosen, illustrating the elements in design, and creating a soundscape.
Kadri’s own contribution was the projection of the city of Chicago.
“Researching all the landmarks and famous sites in Chicago was the first step of looking into the project. And after gaining a better understanding of the elements that needed to be incorporated into the design, the AUS Main Building dictated the arrangement of these elements. Catering a design for a specific site helped inspire the final design of the projection,” said Kadri.
A successful multimedia designer himself, Gmeiner says these real-world opportunities are an essential part of the CAAD student experience.
“At CAAD, our students are immersed in a culture of making. We learn and we do. Collaborations on projects such as the Sharjah Light Festival give our students the kind of essential and unique hands-on experience they need for a successful career after graduation,” said Gmeiner.
The Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design is a four-year undergraduate program offered by CAAD at AUS. The program provides a solid foundation in design theory and practice and combines the areas of digital media, motion graphics, animation and film to prepare students for careers in broadcasting, web and interactive design, filmmaking and animation, and more.
For Kadri and her fellow design students, being part of SLF has provided invaluable experience.
“Experiences like these train the student to learn how to communicate with clients as well as organizing ones work for others to edit. This experience was of great value to me, and I will implement the skills I have gained in this project in upcoming projects,” said Kadri.
“Not only is it a success to have your own design displayed on the AUS Main Building, but learning how to work and navigate in a professional light was a very valuable lesson. It was a taste of what comes after graduation and it also gave insight on the designer/client dynamic that will take place in the near future,” said Kadri.
The students’ work will be projected onto the AUS Main Building as part of the Sharjah Light Festival until Friday, February 15, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, and from 6:00 p.m.–12:00 a.m. on weekends.
For more information about the Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.