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      Cheated: Digital technologies in Islamic art practice

      Proceedings of EVA London 2020 (EVA 2020)

      AI and the Arts: Artificial Imagination

      6th July – 9th July 2020

      Islamic art, Digital art, Spirituality

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          “The computer doesn’t count… that’s not a real drawing”. This paper presents perceptions and attitudes surrounding the use of digital technologies and its impact on the way contemporary Islamic art may be valued. Expanding on findings from interviews conducted in 2015/16, this paper additionally considers anecdotal evidence and online interactions, drawing on artists’ experiences of working with digital technologies. Themes of authenticity, authorship and creativity are presented from the perspective of the artist, discussed with the aim of highlighting how understanding of artistic practice of a digital nature may stem from, and conflate, prevailing notions of how we value art on a wider scale. The author will bring focus to the heightened circumstances of this within the field of Islamic art with examples from the online community. Islamic art is often discussed in relation to traditional and hand-made methods. For some, even the use of handmade tools and media play a role in the spiritual experience of making an artwork (Choudhrey 2018). The choice of tools and methods can also lead to a grappling of the conscience, a desire to maintain one’s principles (Berry 2018). For others, it allows for a timeless continuity, and forms a basis for maintaining historical convention. However, within such sentiments there is an opposing implication: the fear of a waning tradition, and a discontinuity from art history. As can be expected, artist responses to the incorporation of digital technology in their practice differ. Whilst many indicate a need to adhere to underlying principles of authenticity – encouraged in relation to an Islamic ethos (Nasr 2012), some liken the use of digital technologies with ‘cheating’. The repercussion of such language implies a denigration of evolving art-making processes. Yet, often the same artists also discuss digital technologies as providing solutions, an opportunity for exploration, innovation, and an extension of creative capabilities. By shedding insight into the methods and concepts adopted by artists, this paper encourages a shift in how digital forms of Islamic art are perceived by existing and new audiences.

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          Most cited references 31

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                Author and article information

                July 2020
                July 2020
                : 225-232
                University of Kent

                School of Engineering & Digital Arts

                Canterbury, UK
                © Choudhrey. Published by BCS Learning & Development Ltd. Proceedings of EVA London 2020

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

                Proceedings of EVA London 2020
                EVA 2020
                6th July – 9th July 2020
                Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
                AI and the Arts: Artificial Imagination
                Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
                Self URI (journal page):
                Electronic Workshops in Computing


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