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Monday, January 8, 2018

The Flying Mosque

Compiled by TeamIAnD
Photography: courtesy Choi+Shine Architects, LLC  © 2017 All rights reserved
Read Time: 2 mins
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Our environment is a merger of paradoxes. Choi+Shine Architects play on this fusion to create ‘The Flying Mosque’ – an artistic installation made of lace that blurs boundaries of social, behavioural and cultural idioms!

Designing for the 20th Islamic Arts Festival in Sharjah, and working on the festival’s theme of “Impact”, Choi+Shine Architects further their study with lace, continuing its metaphoric application. Conceptualising a variety of independent elements crocheted to depict common patterns that interest and engage people; yet when viewed along a single visual axis, complete the imagery to constitute a mosque, they’ve created the Flying Mosque – the cynosure of all eyes till 23rd January 2018!
 
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The Flying Mosque lace is crocheted in geometric shapes, which uses a cross-culturally universal design language, which is repeated to compose patterns that are used both - in the east and the west. However, the use of geometric patterns is exclusive and absolute in this project similar to Islamic architecture, whereas minimalistic approach to the forms and the abstraction of the surface treatment are taken from contemporary western design.  This project strives to bridge contemporary and tradition, and diffuse the boundary between the east and west.

 The expression embodied in its repetitive, orderly and cohesive pattern signifies infinity and its quiet impact produces a meditative feeling in the viewers leading them into the depth of abstraction.   As Dobree (quoted in Briggs, 1924, p.175) explained the impact of Arabesque art, this project “strives, not to concentrate the attention upon any definite object, but to diffuse them so that the viewers can bemuse themselves in the maze of regular patterning that confronts them, and free their minds from all connection with bodily and earthly matters.”

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The lace symbolically weaves different people and cultures, while physically the openings in the surface create patterns of light against the sky, water and city, a juxtaposition of a permeable surface on different visual layers. It is intended that the viewers see a different glimpse of the familiar environment through a visual filter, rediscovering their city and the surroundings.
 
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Generally, lace is small in scale, and often private. Shown in a large scale – the hand crocheted fabric shells are constructed of marine grade double braided polyester cord, illuminated by multiple spot lights, creating an evenly lit, glowing structure - in a public place, it creates a visual impact that is unexpected and memorable. The collection of forms appears floating, undisturbed by each other, allowing visitors to meander between and through each form, occupy the volumes and touch their surfaces, exploring and interacting with the detailed hand work. When a viewer aligns with the central axial arrangement of these forms, the collective composition transforms, becoming legible as a unified whole - a floating mosque.  
 
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With the wind, the sculptural forms sway and rotate, creating kinetic patterns of shadows.  The repetitive movement of the floating forms is rhythmic and calming, which contributes to the poetic nature of the work. Seeing the glowing and hovering large lace forms against majestic skyscrapers and dark water creates a sense of magic as if time has stopped, which makes the viewers halt and gaze.

This project emphasizes the meditative process of finding the whole, while providing a new way of looking at the old and familiar, with one of the most recognizable structures of Muslim world, seen glowing and taking a flight into the sky.

For details on its fabrication and installation, read here

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