Alex Rayes and Camille Hajjar launch Digitally Generated Art in Beirut
'I saw new digital art galleries emerging in the US and Europe. I noticed that there were no such initiatives in the Middle East,' co-founder Alex Rayes said.
ArtDayME: Digital art is here to stay — that is the firm opinion of Lebanese art specialists Alex Rayes and Camille Hajjar, who founded a new gallery devoted to showcasing digital art in Beirut. Reportedly a first in Lebanon, “DiGen Art” (short for ‘Digitally Generated Art’) is a manifestation of the founders’ belief in the potential and democratization of digital art – from AI-generated images to virtual reality – which has exponentially impacted the art market during the past few years.
“Our mission is to introduce and explore new technologies and art movements,” Rayes, who is a digital art collector, told Arab News. “Through curated exhibitions featuring live coding performances, workshops, and talks, we strive to stimulate conversations, encourage exploration, and showcase the intersections of art, technology, and cultural heritage.”
So, what inspired the whole project? Something was missing in the cultural scene, Rayes said.
“I saw new digital art galleries emerging in the US and Europe. I noticed that there were no such initiatives in the Middle East,” said Rayes. “That realization sparked the idea for the gallery. I wanted to share my enthusiasm for digital art with the region by providing a space where people could experience it firsthand.”
The cutting-edge gallery is equipped with a curated library, screens specialized to show digital art, and an interactive display running on a projector. “DiGen Art” is also located near the American University of Beirut, enabling the founders to invite curious students into their hub. They hope that their programming will clear off misconceptions of digital art, which has proved divisive.
“Digital art is relatively new in the Middle East,” explained Rayes. “It’s true that initially, we encountered skepticism, particularly surrounding AI. There’s a concern that AI-generated art lacks human essence, sparking apprehension about these advancements. Our focus is addressing these concerns by creating a platform where discussions about AI, consciousness, and creativity intersect through art.”
According to Hajjar, the gallery will showcase works by artists from the Arab region and abroad. “Recognizing the limited opportunities for local digital artists, we’re keen on championing their talent and providing a platform for them to gain international exposure,” she said. The gallery’s debut show is entitled “<hello, Beirut!>“, revealing works, centering on the themes of alternate realities and artificial consciousness, that hail from the duo’s private collection.
As for the future of digital art, Hajjar stated: “We see it coexisting with traditional art while carving a significant path for itself as an art movement. In our increasingly digital world, this new art scene is unfolding as a powerful mirror of our time, prompting profound questions about humanity, creativity, and consciousness.”