Al Majaz, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Islamic Arts Festival
Look Up Look Out
“Look Up, Look Out” is a pair of pavilions designed for the 2018-19 Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival. The form and proportions echo and play with the minimalist form and inherent symbolism of the Kaaba. Each consisting of a square space measuring 10ft/3m contained within arabesque. Their intent is to reveal the two domains which theistic religion can be categorised into; the observable universe and the unobservable universe. Represented by two horizons, the earthly and the celestial - presenting two contrasting yet compelling views.
“Look Up” directs upwards towards the celestial horizon; The world of religion lies beyond the observable horizon, extending vertically upward. “Look Out” gazes outwards onto the earthly horizon; the physical world, the observable universe. It marks the terminus of this known world, signifying the end of knowledge and the beginning of mystery.
Using light and shadow, the pavilions transform their surroundings into rooms that emulate Islamic sacred spaces, dense with geometric ornamentation and pattern referencing such precedent as traditional Arabic mashrabiyas. Repeated over and over again, seemingly exponentially, these geometric patterns inspire a sense a cosmic harmony. As the day fades to a darker night, the perforated walls generate an imposing yet rhythmic atmosphere, subtle LED lighting creates a space of illumination, where patterns of light filter through filigreed screens.
The immersive exhibition encourages visitors to become part of the instalment and open their minds to a sensory experience – “Look Up, Look Out” is a quiet place of refuge, intended for contemplation. Once inside, the viewer is asked to respond spontaneously to the architecture. At the centre of “Look Up” a padded floor rest invites guests to lie down and gaze up at the open sky, vertically toward the celestial horizon. Whereas the horizontal opening of “Look Up” invites guests to peer horizontally outwards toward the earthly horizon.