Member Feature. July 2020

From July 2020, the AHA-MK website will feature a recent arts or heritage event of an AHA-MK member, updated every 4-6 weeks. Two photos of the event will head the AHA-MK home page, and there will be a blog post to accompany it. It is with great delight and pride that our first featured event is Digital Light: Code Makers, a collaboration between MKIAC and Bletchley Park in March 2020.

Digital Light: Code Makers, MKIAC and Bletchley Park collaboration

Connecting cultures by celebrating past and present stories of mathematics and design was a unique and special experience for all those participating in this Digital Light: Code Makers project” Anouar Kassim, MKIAC

In March 2020 Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture (MKIAC) collaborated with Bletchley Park to create Digital Light: Code Makers, featuring the artwork of artists Sara Choudrey, Maryam Smit, and Soraya Syed. This wonderful and innovative event highlighted the history of mathematical thinking in the Islamic world by displaying geometrical patterns that are traditional in Islamic design. These patterns were lit up and projected at various points around the Bletchley Park site, juxtaposing the long history of maths in the Islamic world with the modern Western approach to code breaking developed at Bletchley Park during World War II.

Using the latest technology to create the light projections, this project celebrated the mathematical pathways that have brought humanity to this historical and cultural time where digital is all around us, allowing us to communicate across thousands of miles within seconds. One of the digital artworks was created at community workshops, splendidly bringing the voice of the Milton Keynes people into the mix. These workshops were formed of local Muslim communities, and diverse groups of young people from schools and MK College. The first evening of the event was open to community partners only.

The evening after was a preview for ‘invited VIPs’ with a reception and photographs, attended by about 200 people showing their support for this amazing display. At this buzzy preview, renowned scholars of Islamic maths and science spoke about the gap that exists in Western science books for 1200 years before the Middle Ages, where stories of scientific innovation are not recorded. Yet in the Islamic world, much scientific change and revolution occurred during that period, and mathematical thinking was highly developed. Not only does this demonstrate the very real bias our history books take when story-telling, but it also shows how different cultures influence each other to take humanity forward into new ground. While one culture is experiencing obstacles another culture can overcome them, resulting in a collective push forward.

When we collaborate, it allows us to go beyond our limitations and create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Digital Light: Code Makers is a fantastic example of a collaborative effort that was enhanced by the meeting of minds. It was phenomenal project to kick-start a new decade of intelligent and exciting cultural activity in Milton Keynes, that has inclusion at its heart.

Photos by Karen Kodish