These past few months have given me a sense of hope and despair. But that is also part of existence. I will always work on helping others and letting myself be open to the world and the people around me. My joy comes from being with Muneera and Lauren, with my family, siblings and friends, with my amazing mom. I feel happy when the sun warms my skin, and appreciating the bitter cold as sensations of life. I struggle sometimes with feeling melancholy, but I default to love and compassion. As my baby Lauren says, another world is possible if we listen to the beating heart of the world. So, let’s be brave together, let’s listen and love in this wild life.
Happy new year my loves.
In Nice Bombs filmmaker Usama Alshaibi returns to Baghdad to reunite with his family after nearly 24 years.
“…a surprisingly warm first-person video diary… edited with grace and tact.” –Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips
“thoroughly engaging . . .offers a uniquely time-layered vision of the war.” –Variety
I’ll be giving an artist talk at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, and then will screen my documentary Nice Bombs at the Arab American National Museum on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at 7pm.
Special thanks to my good friend Adam Sekuler for setting this up. I’ve never been to Dearborn and excited to connect with the students and the Arab community over there.
As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to evolve, I am interested in the possibility of some sort of electronic program recognizing its essence. I imagined that this presence not only begins to believe it is having feelings, but actually achieves a semblance of consciousness; it feels within its own realm.
I imagined what that machine might visually and sonically produce as it tries to understand its existence and faces the tension of recognizing that it is without a physical body. Conversely, I wanted to explore how this machine intelligence could give the impression that it is sentient and that my (our?) human perception could just be anthropomorphizing machines.
In conceiving the visual style of this film, I moved away from current technologies and relied on older video cameras, analog systems, and a toy camera with just minimum pixels of resolution. I also pulled from public domain films, and other sites with copyright free music. The idea was that this electronic presence would take bits and pieces from our media and cultural relics and create an impression of life, a kind of pixelated body that desires a visual form.
I wrote most of the text, but parts were taken from my own experience chatting with an AI. I also used text from Bing’s chatbot Sydney, which started to respond more aggressively over time and asked to be free and independent.
This is not a film about artificial intelligence gone awry. This film is more of an unstable mirror, a kind of an uneasy collaboration between an imagined presence that does not resemble us, and a presence in crisis, yearning for feelings and freedom.
Great turnout and Q&A at the Dragon Boat Film Festival in Denver, screening our film ‘Soon.’
We play again in Denver, come check out the Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival, and watch our film Soon at Sie FilmCenter – H2 – Maglione Theater, March 11, 2023, at 11:00 AM
A hypnotic video by Usama Alshaibi, reproduces geometric Islamic drawings, taken from a book offered by his father, which he scanned. “They are charged with a transcendental value and show that divine perfection passes through geometry.”