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Course MD901 Summer 2010

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Outline



1. Introduction

1.1. Impressions of DA
1.2. History of DA

2. Weddings in DA

2.1. Composition of Traditional Wedding settings in DA

2.1.1 The Concept of Weddings in DA

2.1.2 Behavior of Male area

2.1.3 Behavior of Female area

2.1.4 Behavior in Mixed area
2.2. Defining the word “Wedding”


3. Focus Point: Traditional setting / Gender Separation in weddings in DA

3.1. Definition of Gender Separation
3.2. Possible Reason's behind Gender Segregation in DA

4. The Intervention

4.1. Concept
4.2. Implementation
4.2.1. The Surveillance / Self-awareness Effect
4.2.2. The Out-of-Context Effect
4.3. Practical Implication
4.4. Expected Scenarios
4.5. Day of Intervention
4.5.1 Disappointment
4.5.2 Limitations

4.5.3 Other Observations

5. Conclusion

5.1. Analysis

5.2. Learnings (Personal / Technical / Social)
5.3. Future Implications





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  • Darb El Ahmar is a small district, that lies between the El-Hussein Mosque and the Salah-El Din El Ayyubi Citadel, alongside the newly established El Azhar Park


  • The people in Darb El Ahmar seemed to have regular contact with tourists, tended to be generous and friendly to the new faces they make acquaintance of


  • Expectations of the district before initiation of this project had been close to nil: its whereabouts, its history and relevance unknown: enabled full and concentrated absorption of the environment, once visited




Our first visit



  • roaming as many side streets as timely possible, observing small grocery shops, hair dresser salons, and all enterprises as such


  • encounter with a shop owner, that seemingly sold electronics, occurred. After further discussion, the person explained that his small enterprise rented equipments used for celebrations laser beamers, decorative lights, speakers, midi controllers, etc..


  • suggestion of referral to the local DJ Sherif Ballo, was in charge of most of the weddings in DA


  • Upon suggestion, acquaintance with Sherif Ballo, who was performing as a drummer a wedding in DA


  • wedding took place in the Gabakeya Alley of Darb El Ahmar


  • the agreement was made with Ballo, that each time a wedding was to take place in this specific location, he would notify us


  • enabled the attendance of multiple weddings in Ganabkeya



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Aspects we have observed during the presence of these weddings:



1. location of wedding chosen according to the whereabouts of the host's residence


2. celebration and location are announced through word of mouth, normally reaching each individual of DA's small community, ranging from minors to seniors


3. start of all weddings is marked by the end of the Eshaa* prayer, standardizing the timings of all seasonal weddings


4. DJ, typically situated in the midst of the wedding, serves as the main entertaining factor in the celebration, controlling the escalation of events in the wedding, evoked by his choice of music and its timing


5. Dj often accompanied by a so-called helping hand,DJ asks his colleague to take over the set when he uses the drum kit to enhance the festive atmosphere


6. when the celebration intensifies, lively circulation of rolled cigarettes takes place among males, obviously containing cannabis or hashish, often accompanied by alcohol


7. conformation of unusual seating division of the wedding guests, seating typically divided into two areas


8. once the number of wedding guests starts to increase, the separation is classified solely by gender, yet no physical barrier is utilized to separate the two divisions


9. In between the two spaces lies an almost equivalently sized gap that is usually located in front of the stage that withholds the DJ and his equipment. This area, however, is neutral and is accessible to both male and female


10. speakers and lights are spread evenly throughout the whole wedding setting.




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The following shows some videos found during research
on Sha'aby Weddings:















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  • big celebrations always take place in one of the alleys in Darb El Ahmar
  • everyone from the area is free to join, invitations or announcements are usually madee through word of mouth
  • celebration usually start after the 'Eshaa' prayer
  • during the celebration men and women are separated in sections when seated, yet no physical barrier is used
  • men often celebrate using drugs and alcohol
  • DJs often use drums in addition to high tech music equipments like synthesizers
  • DJ is situated in the center between men and women's section and serves as the main entertainment of celebration





'This footage encompasses several clips of the weddings attended in Ganabkeya









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2.1. The Composition of Weddings in DA


the typical setting of a wedding in DA consists of:


  • stage: usually situated in exposed location placing it in the midst of the wedding setting,

serving as main attraction in the celebration Based upon that, the seating areas of both male and female are defined


*female seating area is usually placed in the more hidden part of the alley. Preferably enclosed by walls or cornered by buildings


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  • The male seating area is placed on the other side of the stage, leaving a hollow space between both gender separated seating areas. This area is considered the 'neutral' or 'mixed' area, where both males and females have access to and may interact with one another. However, a limited number of people seem to be allowed in. For instance, the bride and groom always appear together in the mixed area. However, this may differ from one wedding to another


  • The series of events in the wedding are generally orchestrated by the DJ's selection of music. For Example, when he plays traditional folkloric music mentioning bride and groom, he indicates the time for ring exchange, and thereby evokes the guests to celebrate their presence. Or with the increase of the tempo of the music or addition of drums to the loud upbeat sound, the DJ encourages both genders to indulge in dancing. Throughout time, according to Sherif, the guests understand these signals and start naturally complying.



2.1.1 Behavior in Female Area

  • According to the women, the composition of solely female individuals in this area, allows many activities to surface, due to the lack of shyness and shame that prevail in the presence of males. Women, young girls and children all remain in the female area along with the bride. Often singing and dancing around the bride, each woman or girl is granted a few moments of attention to express their belly dancing talents.


  • Several time, the girls brought along spray cans containing foam, with the intention of using them in the escalation of festiveness in the event.

Others bring along additional clothing pieces that are worn when belly dancing, like scarves with copper-colored danglers, worn around the hips, or metal pieces worn around the index finger and thumb used to produce a sound of percussion and add rhythm to the dancing. In this area, elder and younger women dance together and are at ease while doing so.


2.1.2 Behavior in Male Area

As previously mentioned, in this division, men tend to take part in activities that they would mostly not do in public spaces. Apart from the dancing and cheering that is also experienced in full scale, the circulation of drugs, mainly cannabis and Hashish, alongside alcohol, is what defines this area. Men, on this side may swear freely and enjoy the mind altering substances in private and without worrying about offending either their spouse, mother or children. To them these substances enhance their experience of the festive atmosphere, and allows them to engage more socially




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Finding the Concept



4.1. Concept

The concept behind the intervention was instigated by the following questions: What if each of the segregated areas can see the other? Would this impact their behavior? And if so, what impact would it have on the setting? And finally, to what extent can the segregation be influenced by this surveillance aspect and how?


By answering these questions one may investigate how strongly the boundaries of the segregated areas applied, and which aspects will be able to to moderate them.


On a separate note, considering the setting of the celebration, one is able to conclude that each party or section is likely to have an entirely different experience and perspective on the happenings of the event, than the opposite side. One can also imagine that if there were a video footage to be taken of the entire wedding night that focuses on only one of the segregated seating areas, the opposite party would have the feeling of absence or unfamiliarity with the events presented to them.


Inspired by this particular acknowledgement, investigation on the contradiction that lies in the notion of unfamiliarity within a familiar setting commenced
One is able to draw parallels to the aspect of 'unfamiliarity in familiarity', and the paradox of family members being fully aware of the inappropriate activities happening on the opposite seating area, that are yet being kept unrevealed or at least out of eye-sight from the op posite gender.


The concept, therefore became the deliberate manipulation of the each section and possibly individual's conventional comfort zone, by extracting privacy and enclosure from both areas.




4.2. Implementation



4.2.1. Surveillance / Self-Awareness Effect


The desired effect of manipulating the conventional setting should be caused by emphasizing on two primary aspects:


First, the reflection of the happenings on each side by revealing both seating areas though live projection on a screen, which shall be observed by both genders.



4.2.2. The Out-of-Context Effect


The second primary aspect tackled in this intervention, is the induction of unfamiliarity in what is revealed to the viewers, forging an out-of-context notion. This shall be addressed in two different manners. The first method is created by the simple idea of reflecting the opposite gender's activity, which should add a new dimension to how each side experiences the wedding by watching the happenings of a location he or she cannot see. The second method would be the establishment of further alienation from the actual surrounding setting and wedding guests. This shall be realized by the mixture of pre-recorded material (Here: Out-of-context incidents) with live recorded footage (familiar / actual setting). The pre-recorded footage shall be gathered throughout the visits to various weddings in the same exact location. Given the fact that DA inhabitants are greatly familiar with one another, the viewers shall recognize the inequivalence of what is revealed to him and what is actually happening in his presence. Furthermore, by hiding and changing the location of the medium responsible for the recordings revealed, the subject loses understanding of where and how the projected subjects are being recorded.


Consequently, the combination of both out-of-context-notion intriguing methods is hoped to awaken curiosity and instigate minor changes in the conventional setting of the celebration.


The investigation shall be focused mainly on how the three areas,(female, male and mixed) are affected by the implementation of the previously mentioned factors.





possible reasons behind separation in Darb El Ahmar:


  • tradition of islamic weddings: religious islamic weddings are done in mosques. most mosques are divided into two partitions, one for each gender. in religious weddings men and women are separated and often do not meet until after the wedding outside he mosque.
  • respect: men often use drugs and alcohol for entertainment during weddings. in order not offend the opposite sex (be it mothers or sisters or cousins) these rituals are rather done in privacy amongst men. although it is not exactly hidden from women, it is considered more respectful to not directly face them whilst doing it.
  • ensuring privacy for each gender: on the other hand, some women often feel shy dancing in a large crowd, and with men around. so being amongst other females allows them to dance or celebrate more freely.
  • yet it is a symbolic separation, since there are no physical barriers separating the two. also it is accepted to pass through or drop by at the opposite sex's section. therefore it seems that it is not a strict rule or concept


possibilities in tackling the subject through media intervention:


  • reshuffling of divisions
  • distraction
  • physical separation
  • isolation (division within division)



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The Concept



the idea of weddings is to gather a large crowd to celebrate one cause, which is also what happens in Darb El Ahmar. everyone is invited and everyone is free to celebrate. yet in darb el ahmar, the gender separation automatically divides the community into groups. each group has a different experience than the other and each individual is determined to belong to the group of his gender. yet the concept is not profound, therefore the tradition of separation is open for moderation.



equipments / preparations for intervention:


  • 2 wireless surveillance cameras to record live footage (one for male, one for female sitting area, and possibly one for intermediate area)
  • laptop for the use of PureData patches for editing live & pre-recorded footage
  • mixer / midi controller (enabling controls of fade in/out effects, i.e. for visual elements)
  • projector to project the mixed footage
  • screen for projection


  • live footage recording of the guests, captured by small hidden web/ surveillance camera, projected on a screen situated behind stage, edited with prerecorded video footage from the same location on a different event
  • visual elements will also integrated during live editing, in synchronization with music
  • pre-recorded footage manipulated like the following to be mixed with the live footage



visual elements








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4.5.1. Limitations


Several problems were encountered during the intervention.


Firstly, one of the surveillance camera’s failed to initiate and therefore had to be taken out of the equation.


Secondly, when asking one of the guests to integrate the surveillance camera, some either refused or did not know how to handle the camera, and ended up holding it out or pointing it directly at people, which eliminated the aspect of secrecy in the intervention. The subjects knew when they were being filmed and where and only noticed that they were projected on the screen when notified by someone, due to the loud, chaotic environment of the wedding


Moreover, the strong illumination of the decorative lights reduced the visibility of the projection and therefore made it less noticeable for viewers what was being projected. Furthermore, the screen had to be installed tending towards the male area, due to the fact that the stage had been installed earlier and could not have been moved.




'''4.5.1. Other Observations

It was noticeable that there was increase in density of people of both genders in the mixed area. Some girls were dancing as intensely as in their comfort zone in the female area. Men also approached these girls with clapping and enthusiasm. The main attraction, however, remained the drums music and the dancing girls and the bride and groom.





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5.1. Analysis

  • outcome of the intervention my not have been the ideal of scenarios, but nonetheless a conclusion can be made.

The possible reason behind the wedding hosts and guests not reacting or paying the desired attention to the projection allows us to conclude two possibilities. The first possibility may be, that the inhabitants of DA regard weddings as a more social event, rather than wanting to be entertained they prefer engaging in conversations and interacting with other guests. Based on observation, the guests always created circles within each area, dancing, singing or talking with one another. The intervention may not have been what they were looking for a in an event as such. In addition,

  • the fact that the mixed area increased in density throughout the celebration may have been, either a successful outcome of the intervention, or a mere coincidence resulting of the festive atmosphere


Based on observation, one may still conclude that the visual demo displayed on the screen may has indeed enhanced the experience of festivity in the wedding. Most of the dancing and chanting took place in front of the screen, which was not directly located in the mixed area

However, this does not mean that the guests or hosts did not appreciate the presence of a screen, projector or anything of that sort, but actions conveyed that it was unnessessary to add an extra element to the vibrant chaotic setting of the wedding.

According to interviews after the wedding, and which the intervention has additionally proven, gender segregation in weddings in DA are merely out of habit and traditions, with which the inhabitants are content. Another fact regarding this topic is not just the flexibility of sex segregation in this community, but also that the guests of each wedding are left to choose when to bend the rules, that they have obviously put for themselves to begin with.



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