With new technologies of smart phones and mobile tablets, the image has taken a new dimension. It is no longer a representation nor a simulation nor virtual substitution, but rather actual reality itself augmented by the digital parameters of mobile devices, a step further beyond the actual and the virtual into a superimposition of both. Living under severe political oppression, the Arab masses resorted to virtual reality where it is a safe haven to express themselves and their most extreme fantasies without any restriction.
Cyber societies sprout in an exponential way caused by biased and cruel regimes of dictatorships that forbids political change and public political expression. Arab political regimes exercised a heavy censorship on conventional media and enforced a single totalitarian political party that does not allow power devolution. With the advent of the Internet Arab masses imploded in the virtual to its extreme saturation until, eventually, they exploded in the actual through revolution.
Hassan Choubassi is a visual artist and researcher born in Beirut in 1970 who graduated from DasArts in Amsterdam in 2005, and from the Lebanese American University in Beirut 1996. He is pursuing a PhD in Communication Media at the European Graduate School and researching the Arab online media accountability and how “augmented reality” of new media technology is mobilized to negate a stagnated media that is abolishing political change. Choubassi is currently the coordinator of the Communication Arts department at the Lebanese International University (LIU). His works were exhibited in Lebanon, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Spain, USA, Luxembourg, Denmark, and others.
The Masses: From the Implosion of Fantasies to the Explosion of the Political. From Actual to Virtual to Augmented from Orient Institut Beirut on Vimeo.
Pictures: Facebook in Tahrir square, Egypt. (Interact Egypt – Play Innovation | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), Twitter in Tahrir square (Interact Egypt – Play Innovation | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The Orient Institut Beirut project entitled “Media Culture in Transformation” will be holding its first international workshop entitled “Political Communication, Public Sphere and Transition in Egypt” on the 8th of May 2013, at The German Science Center Cairo (DWZ), 11 Sh. Saleh Ayoub, Zamalek. The workshop is followed by a CTTC event. The workshop aims at creating networks between the Egyptian and international scientific community in media and political studies.The workshop is accompanied by simultaneous interpretation (English/Arabic).
The intensive one-day workshop is structured in four panels with highly esteemed international guests from diverse academic institutions within Egypt and abroad. It strengthens networks between the Egyptian and international scientific community in media and political studies, thus adds to the interdisciplinary dialogue. Furthermore, the workshop enhances the visibility of the project in the academic scene.
Participating guests represent The Orient Institut Beirut, Cairo University, The American University in Cairo, Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales CEDEJ, Sydney University, Art Academy, The British University in Egypt, Modern Science Academy, as well as German universities: University of Erfurt, University of Mannheim, University of Hildesheim, and the Institute for Media and Communication Policy, Berlin.