Dubai: Watch Arabic letters float as Al Wasl Dome comes alive in mesmerising VR show tonight

Elements of Japanese history will be combined with UAE heritage in a first-of-its-kind show created by pioneering virtual reality artist Aimi Sekiguchi


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 20 Oct 2023, 6:56 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Oct 2023, 6:07 PM

Imagine standing at the centre of Al Wasl Dome in Expo City Dubai — with beautifully crafted Arabic letters floating around you and Japanese artworks all aglow. Now that is the show that awaits visitors of the plaza tonight, at 7.15pm.

Japanese pioneer virtual reality (VR) artist, Aimi Sekiguchi, will demonstrate a first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking virtual reality show as part of the Dubai Calligraphy Biennale. She will combine elements of Japanese history, Arabic calligraphy, and UAE heritage to bring alive an art piece that will transform Al Wasl Dome just for one night.

“I am really excited about it,” said Aimi, speaking to Khaleej Times through a translator, ahead of her scheduled performance.

“I love Dubai for the way it embraces technology and gives artists like me the freedom to explore our creativity.”

Here's one of her works:

She will demonstrate her skill and creativity in three separate shows on Saturday evening at 7.15pm, 8.15pm and 9.15pm. There will also be a special one-night-only collaboration between the newly opened Al Wasl Plaza Café and Japanese bakery Yamanote.

Aimi said she was looking forward to this as it would engage people using various senses. “People will be able to watch me painting and smell the Japanese goodies,” she said. “This will be a really immersive experience for them.

A fan of calligraphy

An accomplished digital artist in her own right, Aimi has staged several VR performances across the world. Continuing to dabble in new technologies like NFT and metaverse, Aimi said she has a special spot in her heart for Arabic calligraphy.

“No matter what technology emerges, it is hard to recreate the magic of Arabic calligraphy the way a calligrapher writes it,” she said. “I grew up in Japan and my creations are very much influenced by the natural elements like sea and greenery. I can sense the same tenets of nature in Arabic calligraphy. It is one of the most beautiful things I have come across.”

Returning to the UAE for her seventh visit, Aimi said she is also fascinated with the region’s oud and perfume culture.

“The smells are so rich and deep that I am in love with it,” she said. “I am hoping that someday in the future I am able to do a show where I am able to blend my drawings with the perfumes of the region.”


Art and technology

Ahead of her show, there will be a panel talk about the intersection of art and technology at the Pearl Terrace at Al Wasl Plaza, where several leading experts in digital art will share their experiences and observations.

Aimi said that what she loves the most about digital art is how it cuts across boundaries and blurs limitations. “When you are painting in real life, you have a canvas of a certain size,” she said. “But when you are painting in VR, you have the full 360 degrees to paint in. It takes away all the limitations of an artist.”

She said she also loves the way digital art makes it more accessible to people of determination to unleash their creativity. “With so many different avenues and tools, people with limited mobility are also able to paint digitally,” she said. “That, to me, is the most beautiful thing about digital art. It cuts across boundaries.”

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