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The Flying Carpet

The Flying Carpet
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Seyed Alavi bumper sticker
Seyed Alavi bumper sticker
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July 3, 2005 Digital imaging offers the ability to create fantastic images and use them in new ways by creating spaces to transform perceptions and indeed create whole new environments. We now have the ability to put any image on a wall (via digitally printed wallpaper), curtains, ceilings and now to have digitally imaged carpet created, giving us complete artistic control of interior design like never before. When we first saw the remarkable work of Iranian artist Seyed Alavi we were transfixed in that he offers perspectives we’d not seen before and for each person, those perspectives were different. Alavi’s latest project is indeed likely to inspire a myriad of ideas from creatives all over the world when they see how he had an aerial view of the Sacramento River woven into a carpet for the floor of a pedestrian bridge connecting the Sacramento International Airport terminal to the parking garage. It is indeed, a “flying carpet”…

“One amazing part of this project for me is that it probably wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for the internet,” Alavi told Gizmag.

“The aerial photos for Flying Carpet were provided to me by Chuck Nelson at the Geographical Information Center at Cal State Chico,” said Sayed. “The carpet was manufactured by Ulster Carpet (, and this was a different type of job for them as they generally manufacture custom carpets for casinos and hotels.”

“I initially discovered the images at the GIC's web site and then I found out about Ulster through their web site,” he says, adding, “I suppose I could have done it, but it would have taken a whole lot more leg work.”

“It is truly amazing what is possible to print images on these days. Of course, for home use the cost is still somewhat prohibitive, but that is slowly changing as well. I think mostly you’re seeing it starting small in the world of crafts such as printing your own t-shirts, decorating your kid's lunch box, making refrigerator magnets, etc...”

“The irony is that at the same time that all these artistic possibilities are opening up, folks are receiving less and less art education in schools...”

In discussing the Flying carpet work on his web site, Alavi says, “In addition to recalling the experience of flight and flying, this piece, by depicting the larger geographical area, also helps to reinforce a sense of belonging and/or connection for the traveler. In this way, the carpet can also be read and experienced as a “welcome mat” for visitors arriving in Sacramento. The siting of this piece on a bridge also helps to highlight a few other conceptual aspects of the work. A bridge is a connection between two destinations; it is not a destination in and of itself; it is neither here, nor there. In this way it is similar to an airplane, or a river connecting one place to another; here to there; a moment of flight frozen in mid air; a flowing river that takes us along with its current to another destination. In this way, the piece also creates a koanic relationship between a river and a bridge, since their ordinary position have been turned around, and it is now the river that is on/above the bridge.

By working with carpeting in this context, I have been able to transform something quite ordinary into an extra-ordinary aesthetic experience.”

Seyed allowed us to reproduce a few of his images here from different projects – the main images other than the Flying Carpet are from his project “Drawn by Light”. “This project utilizes a computerized controller to trigger a series of light bulbs hanging in a darkened space,” explained Seyed. “The light bulbs go on, so as to create a series of sequences, that read like drawings in space.”

“There is also a short video of this pieces on my web site. I was assisted on this piece by a technical, art wizard named Guy Marsden.”

Seyed Alavi’s web site is a wonderful destination as it contains an array of his work with explanations and discussion.

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