Artists pay homage to 9th-century Central Asian inventor of algorithm – The Calvert Journal

Seven artists pay homage to the 9th-century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwārizmī, father of the algorithm, in a new exhibition at the Tashkent Center for Contemporary Art (CCAT).

Bringing together both Uzbek and international conceptual and visual artists, whose work spans craftsmanship, performance, film, music, architecture, design and critical theory, Dixit Algorizmi promotes a more inclusive discourse on the technological advancements that dominate our world, celebrating non-Western sources of innovation.

Al-Khwārizmī was born in Khwarazm, a region that is now part of present-day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The exhibition centers around the book of al-Khwārizmī Kitab al-Jabr wa-al-muqabala (The Short Book on Completion and Balancing Calculus), written in 820 CE, whose Latin translation gave rise to the word “algorithm”.

“The algorithm shapes all possible interactions in modern culture through applications on our smartphones,” says curator Joseph Grima.We know the word, but we don’t understand it. Through the multisensory and illustrative exhibition, we retrace its origin and the great impact it had on societies and cultures, from Antiquity to modern times.

Artists Charli Tapp, Elisa Giardina Papa, James Bridle, Navine G. Khan Dossos, Neil Beloufa, Saodat Ismailova and Space Caviar all worked with local artisans to create works exploring the biography of al-Khwārizmī and the relationship between daily life and the history of science and technology.

Highlights include the work of artist Khan-Dossos, who collaborated with Ikat weavers in the Margilan region of eastern Uzbekistan to create onion and pomegranate painted silks that mimicked Soviet-era postage stamps that once depicted Al-Khwarizmi. They also incorporated the algebraic diagrams of the mathematician into a Ikat model.

The exhibition takes place at the Tashkent Contemporary Art Center (CCAT) until November 15. Find out more here.

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