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WonderBox!

GDES 345 Print, VCUQatar

Faculty leader

Basma Hamdy and Denielle Emans, Assistant Professors

Student participants

Wurood Azzam, Noof Al-Buainain, Abdulrahman Anwar, Aisha Al Muzafer, Dana Chua, Muna Al Majid, Nabila Lubay, Noora Al Zaini, Hazem Asif, Jawaher Al Hajri, Malak El Zahed, Maryam Al Meraikhi, Maysaa Agha, Noora AlFadala, Sara Ebrik, Shahad Al Malki, Yara Al Muftah, Fatima Al-Naimi, Al Dana Al Hajri, Aisha Bujasoum, Maha Akl, Brandon Geib, Michael Walker, Boqin Peng

Long before the invention of film, storytellers would wander the world telling historical stories. Some would supplement their tales with a “wonder box”--a portable box of projected illustrations designed to be viewed through peepholes. Such boxes were both educational and entertaining, they brought communities together by sharing cultural narratives, while beguiling them with their imagery.

This project was a collaboration between GDES students and MAHATAT, a public art organization located in the Middle East. Students worked to revive the tradition of ‘wonder-boxes’ by developing prototypes for English and Arabic audiences, while considering functionality and portability. Following the assembly of the boxes, students conducted ethnographic fieldwork to understand tools for social inclusion. Leveraging interactive and trans-media methodologies, this project explored the implications of cultural preservation through design practice that incorporated play and magic.