Di-Egy Fest 0.1 was the first festival in Egypt dedicated to the digital arts. It was founded in 2013 by Out Of The Circle with the aim of catching the wave of digitization in Egypt, and allowing the digital arts to flourish on a dedicated platform.
Under the theme: Behind the Image and Beyond, which was developed by the director of the first edition artist Haytham Nawar, Di-Egy Fest 0.1 was held in 2013 at Cairo’s Gezira Art Centre, the British Council in Cairo, Manasterly Palace, and Out of the Circle Studio. Over the course of 15 days, the festival presented a range of activities for artists and audiences in Egypt including a digital arts exhibition, projection nights, open studio sessions, an academic conference, and six different workshops, in addition to a children’s segment.
The contemporary art scene in Egypt – and around the world - had been changing vastly in recent decades, and notions of what constitutes an artwork and an art space had evolved as well. Post-digital art overtly challenges the image’s status of semiotic stability and empowers the viewer to transform and transcend what is seen through interaction and participation.
Di-Egy Fest provided a new space for young Egyptian and Middle Eastern artists to explore these themes and present their digital artworks alongside the international guests of the festival. It also had an educational goal, targeting young Egyptian digital artists who want to learn more about digital art mediums and techniques, while facilitating exposure to international practitioners as well as connect with one another.
The festival’s workshops catered to young artists as well as curious audiences exploring the digital arts, covering topics from sound art and digital performance to game design and creative coding, instructed by internationally established practitioners and educators. A seminar series titled "Consciousness Reframed: Art and Consciousness in the Post-Biological Era" - the 13th edition of an international research conference founded by Roy Ascott - ran for three days at the German University in Cairo. The trans-disciplinary seminars opened up new horizons for academics, artists, and engineers in Egypt to discuss, learn, and dream up a future with technology and creativity.
For its second edition in 2017, the festival theme ‘Coding and Identity’ was developed by the director of the festival, artist Weaam El-Masry. It built on the successes of the previous round, offering six days of a diverse program with an exhibition for Egyptian and international artists, workshops, art talks, and panel discussions, as well as live performances and digital art activities for children.
DI-EGY fest 0.2 took place at Darb 1718, the main premises for the festival, while workshops were also held in other venues across Cairo, including the Khalifa Community Centre and The Faculty of Art and Design at MSA University. Two of these venues sat in areas with deep Egyptian and cultural heritage, thus sparking the theme of identity and encouraging experimentation with technology-based art within that context. Rather than being confined to traditional heritage, it aimed to open a window and provide a wide platform for every artist, local or international, to relate his everyday personal experience and contemporary life with questions surrounding collective identity.
The workshops for this round featured instructors from 6 countries and ranged in subject from curating digital arts and culture to augmented reality and game design, as well as experimental mobile filmmaking. Special events included a screening night presenting animation films by the School of Visual Arts NY from the USA, and a lecture-performance night by the festival’s guest of honor Shady El Noshokaty.