Culturunners@mit Storytelling Symposium

CULTURUNNERS Storytelling Symposium

Sunday, October 5, 12pm – 6pm | STORYTELLING SYMPOSIUM
*Free and open to the public
Location: The Cube and Bartos Theatre at MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Media Lab Complex. The Wiesner Bldg, Lower Level, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA

For a full list of participants, titles, and projects, click here.

Artists and scientists come together to share technologies and their applications for cultural collaborations between the United States and the Middle East at this daylong symposium. CULTURUNNERS is a multiannual and multidimensional project consisting of artistic journeys, cultural encounters with local communities, and the creation of artistic communication technologies for traveling artists. CULTURUNNERS is a core component of the Edge of Arabia’s US tour, in partnership with Art Jameel, and ACT’s Culture Fabric research on cultural empathy. Over the course of three years, an evolving group of artists, scientists, and thinkers will cross the country in the hope of investigating and experiencing commonalities interconnecting the narratives, economies, politics, cultures and landscapes between the United States and the Middle East. CULTURUNNERS will use custom-built artistic technologies to map, archive, and broadcast the experiences of the travelers over the course of their tour.

The symposium features a series of talks, screenings, performances, and readings inspired by the Majlis, an Arabic term denoting a welcoming environment that embraces diverse types of social gatherings. Invited presenters include Edge of Arabia artists, MIT researchers, artists and alumni, and Smithsonian curators. During this program, research, artwork, case studies, and technologies related to the theme of acculturation will be communicated through objects and stories presented by the participants and related to their practice. The program involves a number of different storytelling formats, such as a storytelling marathon, featuring stories prompted by an object of cultural encounters, artwork screenings, Skype interviews, taking pictures with the “Other”, micro-encounters by comparing hair under the microscope, trying on lettermen jackets made of Islamic geometric patterns, and testing inventive empathy machines. These interactive presentations will serve as springboards for a series of conversations regarding experiences of mutual understanding between individuals or communities from the United States and the Middle East.

Symposium Participants include: Azra Aksamija, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Husam Al Sayed, Ava Ansari, Saeed Arida, Lara Baladi, Amir Baradaran, Jackson Davidow, Kelly Dobson, Dina El-Zanfaly, Huma Gupta, Carol Huh, Molly Kleiman, Adrianne Koteen, Daanish Masood, Ahmed Mater, Matthew Mazzotta, Regina Möller, Michael Rakowitz, Jon Rubin, Rashad Selim, Orkan Telhan, Katayoun Vaziri, Floor van de Velde, among others.

12:10-12:15   Welcome note | ACT Department

12:15-12:25   Welcome note and Intro of CULTURUNNERS | Azra Aksamija and Stephen Stapleton

12:25-12:35  Intro of Majlis, Stories and Projects | Ava Ansari

12:35-12:45  Transformation of Mekkah | Ahmed Mater

12:50-1:05    Exemptions and Emancipations | Orkan Telhan

1:10-1:25      The Black Poem | Mariam Mossali 
1:30-1:45      Mipsterz—Muslim Hipster | Layla Shaikley

1:50-2:05      A Furry Tale | Regina Möller
2:10-2:20      Pink/Wash | Jackson Struthers Davidow

2:25-2:35      Dastangoi | Huma Gupta

2:40-2:50      Spatial-Making-Do | Molly Kleiman and Ava Ansari

2:55-3:05      Fab-San’a | Dina El-Zanfaly

3:10-3:20      Songs My Father Likes | Nisa Ari

3:25-3:40      Suspicious Camera | Lara Baladi 
3:45-3:55      The Mother of Bathrooms | Daanish Masood

4:00-4:15      Story of Telfaz 11 | Husam Al-Sayed

4:20-4:35      Desert Wind | Ali Asani

4:40-4:50      Instigestion | Abdullah Al-Mutair
4:55-5:05      Can An Aşık Work at Siemens? | Peter McMurray  
5:10-5:20      Behind the Scenes at The Sackler Gallery | Carol Huh
5:25-5:40      Border Land | Ahmed Matter and Stephen Stapleton

5:45-6:00      Yarn-dez-vous | Azra Aksamija
Concluding Remarks followed by reception | Azra Aksamija and Ava Ansari

The Foreigner | Jon Rubin with Sohrab Kashani & Gedney Barclay
Marshmallow and Baklava | MIT students
Yarn-Dez-Vous | Azra Aksamija with Lillian Harden, Karina Silvester & Andy Bolt
The Machine To Be Another | BeAnotherLab
Photo Booth | Adrianne Koteen & Ursula August
Exemptions and Emancipations | Orkan Telhan
Mapping Invented Traditions | MIT students
Empathetic Headwear | MIT students
Rifting Studios | Matteo Enrico Lonardi, Alexandra M Glorioso, João Philippe Inada
I ran Into Iran | Katayoun Vaziri & Brian Zegeer
Frenchising Mona Lisa | Amir Baradaran
Machine Therapy | Kelly Dobson
Open House | Matthew Mazzotta
Micro Encounters | MIT students
Frozen Interaction | Adi Hollander

Cinema of Extra-Ordinary Life: Cinematic Windows to Everyday Life in the Middle East and the US

Culturdrone, by CULTURUNNERS

RECEPTION and PARTY  |  6-11pm
Performances by the band Malportado Kids and DJ La Loca Lila

CULTURUNNERS symposium is chaired by Azra Akšamija, Class of 1922 Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor in the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT, and Stephen Stapleton, artist and Edge of Arabia co-founder.

Connect with Edge of Arabia on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram for all the latest news, updates, photos and more. Join the conversation by mentioning @EdgeOfArabia and using the #EOAUSA #CULTURUNNERS hashtags.


  • mit program in art, culture and technology -- wiesner building (e15)
    Wiesner Bldg, Lower Level, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA

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