Through the culmination of two years of intensive research and production, the Department of Digital Arts of the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta presents Ennead – the graduate degree exhibition of the MFA in Digital Arts.
This year’s exhibition brings nine artists with diverse styles and works together to form an ennead, a set of nine.
Each artist utilizes a variety of different media to address equally diversified concepts. It is here that the digital medium allows the artists to not only use it as a tool for their creative and artistic expression yet also show the acknowledgement of traditional media.
Thus, their works create a rich blending with unconventional media and emerging technologies to create a certain hybrid style of art.
The nine participating graduate artists this year are Mickayla Bugeja, Emma Cini, Peter Magro, Lara Manara, Nicole Pace, Bernard Polidano, Clayton Saliba, Daphne Sammut and Nicole Zammit.
Mickayla Bugeja’s work, The Effects of Verbal and Nonverbal Elements using Online Platforms, highlights the ‘said’ and ‘unsaid’ when it comes to communication. Bugeja focuses on how facial expressions are an effective and vital factor in communication.
Her work focuses on conveying how we communicate and get our meanings across in the digital age while also resorting to compulsory digital platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic due to lockdown and restrictions.
Through True Colours, Emma Cini lays with the idea of two opposing elements that have emerged from the pandemic: hope and fear.
Cini tackles these emotions through a series of digital illustrations that embody the way in which the pandemic has changed the world’s outlook over its duration. These two visual cues of opposite feelings aim to connect the viewer and find a sense of relatability in them.
Ode to a Stone is Peter Magro’s entry, which has resulted from the culmination of numerous visits to Manoel Island that has led to a study of imbalance and juxtapositions between the natural world and human intervention.
His work has led Magro to pose questions of humanity’s legacy compared to the longevity of a stone found on-site. This also acts as the inspiration of his hand-drawn animation with visual cues of the area, the use of similar sounds of the site and a political statement on unrestrained development creating a fictional narrative embedded in reality.
Meanwhile, Lara Manara’s C H A O S | Я Ǝ ꓷ Я O offers an autobiographical video installation that delves into temporal thoughts and being within a digital world – bringing out inner experiences and memories of Manara in a performative, visual installation.
Through what is known as a triptych in video terms, the installation captures snippets of the artist’s life, portraying the artist at the very centre and a collection of images and videos representing personal moments.
Her work serves as a statement of self-portrait and self-narrative existing within a digital age capturing the context of how the artist reached the point she is at now.
Nicole Pace explores the ‘unphysicalities’ of our world through Not always everywhere but always somewhere. Particularly, her work focuses on the absent and present, the something and nothing.
Rather than just questioning this abstract concept, Pace portrays a simple yet delicate existentialist interpretation, illustrating moments of presence and lack of it.
With smart use of lighting and shadows, her experimental installation replicates a certain temporality that both represents one’s temporal presence yet also symbolizes the balance between light and dark in moments of our lives.
In Confronting the Gaze by Bernard Polidano, viewers are able to understand the idea of ‘inner self’ through photographic interpretation.
Through understanding the concept of a portrait, Polidano’s work provokes the imagination through photos of people who are unaware they are being photographed at that moment in time. In doing so, it allows Polidano to capture a more ‘natural’ and objective look into a person.
This idea of the inner self tackles the notion of the soul and character being exposed through the camera lens, offering an honest portrayal of what might be exposed before and after the smile.
A patient-friendly, digital brochure is meanwhile offered by Clayton Saliba to introduce viewers to Digitus – an online app that was developed to improve post-treatment health education for Diabetic children.
By applying digital illustration and imagery within a medical context, Digitus allows the promotion of a contemporary means of visual communication that can be integrated within the medical field to provide a sensitive yet patient-friendly guide.
Utilizing a sensory machine Daphne Sammut offers audiences an audio-visual experience with Psyche Uninterrupted.
The installation aims to produce a new form of a musical algorithm that allows anyone without any background in music to create sounds and melodies through a connection between the brain and her machine.
It thus creates an unlikely link between computer and human, a marriage of digital and analogue in this technological age.
Finally, Nicole Zammit’s background in both painting and psychology offers a strong basis for her installation: Exploring Mindfulness.
Zammit’s psychedelic approach to painting utilizes bright, neon colours and UV lighting to create a walkthrough of works that highlight both digital and organic aspects to induce a therapeutic escape for viewers to become entranced in.
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