CharBagh – Faisal Anwar

  • CharBagh – Faisal Anwar

Projected on the south wall at the conference will be ‘CharBagh’ (quadrilateral garden). CharBagh’ is a participatory digital art project by new-media artist Faisal Anwar that creates ornate geometric patterns through conversations in real time. Modelled on the traditional grid compositions of Persian gardens, each pattern grows and shifts in response to data generated on social media and collected by the artist. This artwork premiered in 2015 on the façade of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Anwar’s project encourages the public to meaningfully participate in
online conversation in order to empower social change.

Last year, the work was part of the exhibition titled Garden in the
Machine, at the Surrey Art Gallery, where Anwar led focused workshops
with community groups discussing themes related to sustainable food
production, climate change, and peoples’ changing relationships with

In this installation, the structured Islamic geometrical scheme becomes a powerful metaphor working with open data and investigating today’s sociopolitical territories. The data is collected using Instagram through thematically curated hashtags to generate a conversation about climate crises in our cities and our relation to it. Using creative coding, algorithms, Anwar morphs your photos into ornate geometric designs. This project exemplifies how social media can be a tool for positive social change.

To participate please post images on Instagram with the listed hashtags during the conference.

1. Post images that symbolize your relationship to nature?

2. Post images that share your relationship to food sustainability?

3. Post images that capture your relationship to community?

4. Post images that capture the current moment of climate change?

About the Artist

Faisal Anwar (b.70) is a contemporary artist working between Canada and Pakistan.  Anwar is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Habitat-LAB, Interactive Arts Program 2004, and did his Bachelors in Graphic Design from the National College of Arts Pakistan 1996.

Anwar has a keen interest in exploring socio-political spaces and patterns in ecologies that intrigues the mind through multi-layered participatory experiences.  His work is often interactive that utilizes public data to question how rights-of-access is blurring lines between private and public spaces to form a new territory.  His latest project CharBagh, 2019 presented at the exhibition ‘Garden in the Machine’, at Surrey Art Gallery, Vancouver, uses social media to generate a Persian-style Islamic garden known as CharBagh (four gardens). This interactive artwork grows out of Anwar’s workshops with Surrey residents who took photos responding to sustainable food production, climate change, and nature. An earlier iteration of the project was presented on the facade of the Aga Khan Museum Toronto in 2016. Another community engagement project ‘I see my streets’ presented at 1st Karachi Biennale, 2017 and his solo exhibition at Canvas Gallery, ‘Tracing cities 1: Karachi’ , 2018 investigate a relationship between the spatio-temporal dimensions of cities and our neo-tech mindsets and experiences. His other works include ‘En(Light)’, 2017, a large-scale outdoor responsive sculpture, crafted out of laser-cut steel sheets, with dynamically-controlled LED lighting.

Anwar has been awarded several residencies, project grants as well as research grants throughout his career. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious SSHRC Insight Development grant, for his project +City. In 2007 his project ‘Ino it!’ was selected under the Artist as Innovators category Grant, for research for kids with multiple disabilities by the CFC Media Lab, Banff Centre and  University of Toronto’s Adaptive Technology Lab.


Instagram: @faisalanwarstudio