What does art have to do with technology? Just ask Mahoor Jamal, a fashion illustrator and portrait artist from Peshawar, who uses Instagram—an online photo site—to showcase her work and connect with an international audience and to sell more of her work. Or just ask Jawad Afridi, a photographer and the founder of Humans of Peshawar. He is also dependent on social media for his work, using Facebook to exhibit his photographs of the people of Peshawar. This has earned him customers and recognition beyond Pakistan and he has recently contributed to the publication of a book in the UK. These young artists, and many more, will soon be getting together in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to celebrate art and technology over two days at the ArtTech Festival.
Formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has historically been an important trade route between Central and South Asia. This position resulted in an amalgamation of unique cultures, traditions, ethnicities, histories and monuments that have shaped today’s artists, artisans and musicians from KP. KP is now emerging from a period of instability, and is looking to the future to identify opportunities for its youth in the knowledge economy.
The ArtTech Festival will be the first step in raising awareness and building a community of youth interested specifically in the cutting edge intersection of art and technology. As a “sister” festival to the larger Digital Youth Summit, the Festival creates a space and platform to encourage cross disciplinary creativity and to nurture entrepreneurship in the creative and cultural industries.
Enter in technology. For young artists, artisans, musicians, and fashion designers today, technology is changing the way production, distribution and consumption of art, culture and creative products is taking place. Technology opens new avenues of virtual networks, connecting artists with opportunities to showcase their creations, disrupts business models for reviving and monetizing heritage based industries, and opens new avenues through virtual networks.
The Festival will convene prominent local artists, artisans, technology students, “makers” and hardware designers, in interactive workshops on topics such as design thinking, augmented reality using technology, and smart e-conservation. Filmmakers without Borders will train youth in digital storytelling, the Heritage Foundation in partnership with Instagram Peshawar will highlight digital platforms for cultural heritage and conservation, robotics and engineering students will showcase their projects co-created with local artists and artisans, and Patari, an online music platform for Pakistani music, will livestream emerging musicians throughout the two day event. Alongside the workshops, a design expo will display local creative and cultural products that use technology, and will provide platforms for young artists and tech specialists to meet, create, and innovate.
The ArtTech Festival is just one of many community building and awareness raising events supported by the KP IT Board, in partnership with the World Bank, and other local stakeholders like Peshawar 2.0. The Government of KP recently announced 2016 as the “Year of Technology”, outlining a comprehensive program to foster opportunities for youth in the knowledge economy and digital industries.
ArtTech Festival will be held in Peshawar from November 21-22, 2015. It is being organized by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IT Board, the Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Cultural Department of KP, Peshawar 2.0 and the World Bank.
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