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Artist uses sands of time to tell story of the UAE
JBR art installation symbolises strength of change in country's future
For New Zealander artist Gary Yong, every great idea is born from humankind's most vital tool - the mind. Nowadays, technology may help craft innovation but for Yong, successful innovation has to start from the core.
"I think we need to go back to basics. Pick up a pencil and draw. Pick up a pen and write. The mind connects with whatever tool we have in front of us but the best ideas come from the most organic thinking. Technology comes after that."
On the first day of the UAE Innovation Week, Yong spoke to Khaleej Times on the back of an 8-hour night shift, which saw him carefully place 1,600 bags of sand along Jumeirah Beach Residence's open beach.
Video by Leslie Pableo / Khaleej Times
Though passers-by may mistake the weathered sand bags for a momentary resting place to park their weary legs, this installation is a symbol of time - both past and present.
It tells the story of what the UAE was, is and will continue to become over time.
Yong produced 'Sand In The Waves' after being commissioned by Brand Dubai for UAE Innovation Week.
As the UAE sets course for a post-oil world through investing in the development of its people, its goal is to build a vibrant knowledge economy, with a core focus on innovation.
"When people think of innovation, they think of technology. With 'Sand In The Waves', we have gone primitive. Sand is infinite, here, it tells past memories of the UAE and creates new experiences."
The project aims promote the message that change is the way forward.
"The sand is a symbol of time and infinite possibility which is impossible to grasp in any permanent way. We need to work with it," he said.
The installation is a tribute to the relationship between sand and the ocean and has been laid out as a space of relaxation and happiness on the beach.
As Yong laid down on one of the sands bags to show that it can be touched and played with, he said the area is designed to be enjoyed by everyone. Taking out his phone, he showed Khaleej Times a picture of two young toddlers playing on one of the see-saws positioned in between the wave-shaped sand bags.
Working straight through from 12am on Saturday to 7am on Sunday morning to instal the interactive art station, Yong said seeing the two young children enjoying the installation made the hard work "well worth it".
"I haven't slept properly for two nights. I just kept telling myself, 'Keep Calm and Gary Yong'," he laughed.
Some problems in the logistics caused several difficulties in getting each 20-30kg sand bag down onto the beach, but 7.30am marked the final completion.
'Sand In The Waves' - positioned in front of the Real Madrid Café on JBR beach - will be on show throughout the entirety of UAE Innovation Week.
And for street artist Yong, it perfectly encapsulates the meaning behind the UAE leadership's bid to foster innovation among its people.
"The waves represent the ever-changing dynamics in the UAE and the infinite sand promotes the fact that the only thing that is constant is change. We need change in order to be a success."
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