Marie Thérèse Abdelmessih

Panel 1D: Digital Media Practices
Session 1 – July 1, 11:00 – 13:00

The Egyptian ‘Enigma’ in New Media Art

Nowadays, visual participation is not confined within the frame of an artistic work, but involves the viewer’s direct participation synchronizing perception and creation. Looking at pictures is no longer determined by aesthetic categorization or chronological factors, rather by the extent of its experiential intensity, the “enigma” enforced by the playfulness it arouses” (Perniola), in other words, the Egyptian touch enfolded in art works (Adorno). Based on that, updated critical approaches have dissolved binaries between high and low art, as well as generic categorizations (Frohne). The hieroglyph merges text and image, so does calligraphy. Ancient manuscripts are read/viewed in relation to electronic literature (Landow), and installations have merged the sublime with the everyday. While recent scholarship has traced relations between the Baroque and the postmodern, Renaissance art and media art, some interrelation needs to be traced between ancient Egyptian art and new media art in Egypt and elsewhere. Our goal is to trace the extent to which New media art can change looking-practices to ancient Egyptian art, and subsequently, determine to what degree new media art enfolds an Egyptian enigma. These are some of the queries raised by this prospective research, that will draw its sources from transhistorical, transdisciplinary and transcultural approaches.


Marie-Thérèse Abdelmessih. Professor, English & Comparative Literature, Cairo U. Director, MA Program, Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies (Kuwait U (2013-2019). Member, EC, (ICLA); International Advisory Board and Associate Editors (CLCWeb); Founding Board of Trustees, International Arab Fiction Prize, UAE with Man-Booker Prize, London (2007-2017); Advisory Board, National Centre for Translation, Cairo. Selected Journal publications: Rethinking Critical Approaches to Arabic Comparatively in a ‘Post’ Colonial Context,” Interventions (2018); “Atlantic Decolonial Critical Approach to Representations of Cairo,” Atlantic Studies (2017); “Strategies of Engagement in Using Life, A Multimodal Novel,” Interfaces, Image, Texte, Language, (2017); “Egypt since 1960,” Oxford Handbook of Novelistic Traditions. Oxford UP (2017); “Intermedial Aspects in the Egyptian Fayoum Portraits,” The Ekphrastic Turn: Inter-Art Dialogues, Illinois UP (2015). Forthcoming: “Re-articulating Hypertext, Intermediation and the Humanities”.