Monday, March 4, 2013

VCUQ project documents life in Qatar with moving postcards

A faculty member from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQ) has come up with an innovative research project, “The Moving Postcards Project”, to document the lifestyle of the country for a local as well as international audience. The project depicts facets of life in Doha through a number of moving postcards.

Assistant professor of the Foundation Program at VCUQ, Simone Muscolino, told Gulf Times that he had been working on the project since joining the institute in 2010. He explained, “Each postcard is a video of less than a minute’s duration, depicting one aspect of life in Qatar. Each of these is an innovative endeavour that documents changing life in Doha through a developing collection of video fragments. Moving postcards are micro-video loops that present a space, behaviour or an atmosphere particular to a local environment.”

The assistant professor has produced his own videos and taught the technique to students in his Time Studio classes. During the last five semesters, around 150 students - both Qatari and expatriates - have been involved in the project, and the body of work includes around 1,000 moving postcards on Doha. He added that 50% of the students involved in the project were Qataris. The project provides glimpses into the traditions and customs of the country in motion through the eyes of those who know it best.

Muscolino said he had three objectives in developing the postcards. “Primarily, it is an effort to document the local life and the changes taking place in the country through these slides. Secondly, it is to produce the content through educational activities and teaching the students how to do it. Finally, it is to build a local community of video-makers,” he elaborated. The entire project has been done in collaboration with Doha Film Institute and Qatar Museum Authority (QMA).  Most of the postcards have also been uploaded on the Internet.

A table with an attached computer, a projector and a wide screen are used to show the video. There is a slot on the table to insert the postcard. Once inserted, the video starts playing the content, which can be a particular lifestyle or certain aspect of life in Doha. Some of these videos involve various activities, such as having a drink with a face- veil, checking the purity of pearls, a cobbler working in a shop and many more. 

The project gives an insider’s view as the videos have been recorded by many Qatari students, who have access to some of the lifestyles of the Qatari community. Muscolino said “The videos are a true depiction of some of the daily events in Qatari households and society. The students have recorded them in the true style and given a glimpse into the Qatari culture.” He added that the project would be screened at the Students’ Centre of Hamad bin Khalifa University during the upcoming Tasmeem Conference this month.

Muscolino observed that these snippets of life in Doha with animation would be a great tool for tourists and visitors to Qatar. He said, “The whole project can be used as a tourist guide to learn more about Qatar, the living style of the country and its culture. I plan to add more videos working with the students in the coming years.” 
The entire research project was funded by Qatar Foundation and the university, the assistant professor said, adding that he was granted $12,000 for the same. “It covered the cost of technology. I am going to ask for another grant to continue with the project.”

No comments:

Post a Comment