Do Not Disperse

2019 | Reactive projection

Patterns of Change

Do Not Disperse was a collaboration with Mahshid Mahboubifar to create a site-specific artwork for the media art festival See Djerba 2019. It was shown at the Mosque Sidi Brahim in the town of Houmt Souk, Tunesia.

The phrase “لا تفرقوا — Do Not Disperse” comes from a verse in Quran and has been selected as the title of this project by Mahshid Mahboubifar. She projects these words in a calligraphic style called "Kufic", on the wall of the mosque. To do so, she applies iron sand on an overhead projector with a mask. Over the sand pattern swings a magnet which over time moves the sand, thus altering the structure. After a while, unpredictable patterns emerge.

The digital projection then, is a reaction to, and a translation of what is happening to the sand scripture. A software observes and processes the structure constantly and draws its own pattern, constructed from tiles with geometric ornaments. Every few moments, the assortment of tiles is updated. The more the sand scripture has changed, the more variety is introduced to the tile selection. Over time, this leads to seemingly chaotic results. But a closer look reveals that the designs of the tiles are always connected on their adjacent sides.

The Mosque Sidi Brahim in Houmt Souk
The template for the Kufi scripture
Iron grains on an overhead projector, interacting with a swinging magnet
Analog and digital projection side by side

Video & photos by Mahshid Mahboubifar