Dark Skies Gaze Back
Dark skies gaze back

Costumes Execution and Clothing Label: Oshii Brownie
Visual Artist/ Costume Designer: Ayesha M. Ali
Fact Findings by Rayan Khan International Astronomical Union Dark Skies Ambassador/ Founder of Cosmic Tribe

A Collaborative project exploring the connection between effects of lights, sustainable fashion, digital design, and surveillance. A project executed from a perspective dark sky defender- Rayan Khan (Founder of Cosmic Tribe) and Ayesha M. Ali (Visual Artist) designed a rebellious artistic expression through facial jewelry and costumes, to share the message of the impact of artificial lights especially on the psychological health of the post-millennial generation. The project aimed at producing a visual exploration through experimentation by fusing traditional and digital techniques to talk about abstract ideas of light and its unseen effects in our life.

We started this project in 2019, it took 8 months for execution, and due to some inconvenience of COVID-19, This project art exhibition was postponed, and surprisingly the facts that we worked on during the Pre-COVID19 situation related to artificial lights. We had a chance to observe these drastic impacts of artificial lights on psychological health during the whole quarantine period of COVID-19, which has disrupted the whole world's physical activities and induced the need for a virtual experience through artificial light base technology.

Curatorial Note

What does it mean to look fashionable in a world of fast fashion and cheap knockoffs?
While representing fashion through the “Artificial light as a trap” concept, the idea was to imitate a dialogue about social media app with facial recognition features, which scrutinizes us, penetrating privacy. By designing facial jewelry that distorts people’s faces through the camera lens, this series attempts to create a barrier, an integration on the system that manipulates and traps human identity, only to maneuver it into this cyborg-like form that loses resemblance to the original.

This project explores the ideas of visibility and what it means to live individually or collectively in the city of lights. Lights have populated this city, made us visible but also polluted and polarized through invisible ways. By understanding and further dissecting our daily modes of living, it becomes imperative to imagine and envision how our future selves would look, live, thrive, or just survive.

While working for the cause of Light Pollution during the past 8 months, we tried to understand and investigate its effects on our environment and our bodies through multiple art forms and different mediums of representation. The effects include but are not limited to depression, anxiety, disturbance of biological clock and sleep patterns, irregularity of the circadian rhythm which we have tried to showcase as a journey, or a pross that we went through.

By putting together costumes and jewelry using references from these mixed sources, I have endeavored to subvert the popular, accepted narrative for feminine self-expression. The intention was to wrest out attached meanings from these objects which give meaning to feminine form or other genders in our society. The use of metal as the material itself symbolized many different angles of malleability, femininity as well as strength at the same time. Nanomaterials, robotics, and 3D solutions, cyborg punk fashion became natural inspirations while working with discarded tech pieces and metal surfaces. By rendering these materials into constructed costumes using 3d software like Zbrush and Mudbox, these characters are an interpretation of real people as avatars of a science fiction game, living in an alternate future, a separate reality.

By recycling used objects, kitchen utensils, and discarded materials, the intention was to create an intermediary image-object, a process draft, a wearable sculpture that can represent and also dissect the plastic, mechanic, and cloned ‘self’ in the pool of social identity that we are all part of. By combining fantastical themes and faux personas, the project explores the extent to which human identity can be reshaped, multiplied, and reformed both physically and emotionally into a robotic cyborg advanced self. By using metallic armor and steampunk fashion costume techniques, the work investigates and tries to regain the lost connection to nature.
Artist Statement by Ayesha M. Ali

My practice engages with the blurred boundaries that arise between the concepts of reality, illusions, collective memory, scrutiny, and gender roles exhibited and masqueraded in pop culture. The idea of ‘projected truth’ can be understood through the language of costumes and jewelry as a medium to respond to the observed/transforming culture that we are a part of. The visuals and facial jewelry designs stem from my interpretation of how facial recognition algorithms embedded in social media applications identify, intrude, and scrutinize people’s everyday lives. Fantastical, imagined, and hyper-real characters in my work represent the distorted truth while simultaneously attempting a mutiny in the face of the Snapchat camera lens.

 We need to seek the origin to retain ourselves as an ‘original’ in this fast-paced global image rotation, the land of a copy of the ‘copy’ and at the same time fight the pollution of gender discrepancies around us along with light pollution. It becomes crucial to dissect this web of complex visibility patterns concerning the ideas of simulation, where these curated personas become another way to vicariously live out an alternate narrative, however groundless in reality. These simulated avatars, dressed as warriors, are seeking to recoup what is lost – the greater consciousness, that cosmic connection diluted in the light pollution.

My work becomes an embodiment of unnatural ways of living, in an altered space/place of mind, and in-between semi-conscious future state of fashion. These visuals were created to reimagine a futuristic state of fashion from standpoint of cultural symbology. 

Post-Millennial Artificial Light Trap by Rayan Khan

It has long been known that light has a strong effect on our brain and well-being. Light is not only required to see but it is also important for a variety of “invisible” activities including aligning our biological clock to a 24h night cycle. Light also transmits a powerful stimulant signal to human awareness and understanding and has been used regularly to improve performance, combat the negative effects of sleep or "winter blues."

Over the past decade, however, researchers have discovered a new type of light-sensitive (photoreceptor) cell in the eye called melanopsin. This novel photoreceptor has been shown to be an important part of transmitting light information to a set of so-called non-visual centers in the brain. In the absence of this photoreceptor, animal studies have shown that invisible functions are disrupted, the biological clock is stopped and independent 'free-runs' in the 24-night cycle, and the stimulatory influence of light is impaired.

The melanopsin photopigment is unusual in many aspects and differs from our rods and cones since it shows invertebrate-like properties and is maximally sensitive to rich bright artificial blue lights. Prior exposure 1-hr earlier to a warm or yellowish-orange light enhanced the subsequent impact of the test light, while prior exposure to blue light had the reverse outcome.
At home, people can be exposed to artificial blue light through home lighting, as well as through light-emitting screens (LEDs), including computers, televisions, smartphones, and tablets. With eyes fixed on smartphones and devices throughout the day, the blue light emitted from the screens affects sleep quality.

On the other hand, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) on visual images for emotional analysis obliterates the natural subjectivity and contextual dependence of our facial displays. Emotion (AI) sets itself as an algorithmic lens for our digital art and real-time interactions, creating the illusion of a new, data-intensive category, which is data of our emotional and psychological conditions. Building on a rich network of existing public photos as well as new feeds from surveillance videos or smartphone camera.

The effects of privacy and security from the collection of emotional surveillance has never occurred, especially when taken in conjunction with other signals including body bio-signals (e.g., heartbeat or body temperature). Emotion AI also introduces new ways to trick people by referring to political propaganda or facial recognition passwords based on small responses.
This whole scenario looks controlling in terms of emotional behavior, breaching the level of privacy and cybersecurity in terms of consent and displaying such content on social media platforms for a layman to spend more hours with artificial blue lights, which itself affecting psychological health and cognitive behavior.

Whereas, more than 83% percent of the global population lives under skyglow. It is one of the most intensive forms of light pollution. The origin of natural lights from the celestial objects that have traveled light years distance are no more visible to us because of the canopy of skyglow build by artificial man-made lights on planet earth, Dark skies gaze back is a rebellious artistic expression artificial lights trap in which post-millennial generation lives in.

Light pollution is different as an environmental problem because it can actually disappear if we simply turn off the lights, unlike other important issues such as global warming or micro-plastic pollution that can simply disappear or take appropriate action today. This is not to say that light pollution is easily solved, in part for years of public perception of public lighting and, of course, which we do not want to turn off the lights completely.

Sketching and brainstorming ideas for headgears and wearable sculptures.
Instrumental Interference (Series of Facial Jewelry)

This work was constructed in response to metal objects and utensils found in the kitchen. My products are simultaneously a narration of the role society constructs and neatly the delineates for the female gender and a revolt against facial recognition apps. Through these metal objects, I have explored the link between the problem of online scrutiny and the identity construction that it incites as consequence. The products exhibited in this series are tools to conceal identity and in turn, morph it into new androgynous forms and cyborg-like characters. These products exist as armor and fortification against facial recognition apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Fractured Fantasies of a fainted heart.
 Mixed media, archival canvas,  on canvas
20” by 16”

Painting became a way to interpret metal and jewellery modules through a new medium.
Medieval Misfit
 Mix Media, Acrylic, resin and collage on canvas
24” by 24”
left Heavenly Chaos of Thoughts, 
Medium: Acrylic, ink, markers and plastic emulsion on canvas
Size: 48” by 30”

Right: Phaneron Recreated
 Medium: Acrylic and Emulsion on canvas
Size: 52” by 45”

Left:Origin of Confused Culture
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, size 50” by 27” 

Mid:The Known Nobody
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, Size: 36" by 24"

Right:Symbolic Self  Separation
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, Size: 48" by 30"

Title: Tried to stay lowkey
Medium: Mixed media on canvas
Size:24” by 24”
Title: Distortion of Divine Dichotomy,
digital painting, giclée print on canvas
Edition of 3
16” by 11”

Portraits showing my designs, visualized in Zbrush.
Wishful Warrior

Medium: Digital painting, art giclée print on canvas
Edition of 3
Size: 24” by 36”
Non-mendable Malleability

For this series, I studied and examined forms of masks, abayas and bridal jhoomars/naths (among other accessories), to explore ideas of concealment and fashion trends as part of the culture propagated by the mainstream local trends and fashion industry.

I have used traditional ways of photographing models and highlighted the tricks used to charm the audience with unreal beauty standards. My work attempts to subvert the mainstream trends, a form of agitator against traditional norms that we, all of us, are nudged subconsciously to follow. Jewelry and ornamentation become elements of adoration and symbols of wealth and status, but at the same time they are heavy with the connotation of the cumbersome weight that they inflict upon the wearer and the apparent discomfort that results on subjects faces as an effect of wearing them. I intended to explore the objects through a fresh lens, dismantling and rearranging kitchen utensils into new forms of headgears, facial masks, and fantastical features and accessories. 
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Untraceable
 Digital painting, art giclée print on canvas
Edition of 3
16” by 11”
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Iron Woman
Digital painting, art giclée print on canvas
Edition of 3
18” by 12”
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Secured semiotics of
Digital Print on Canvas
Edition of 3
36” by 24”
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: All that Glitters, should be Gold!
Digital Print on Canvas
Edition of 3
36” by 24”
The impetus of Absurdity (Series)

Become a character of the dark,
As futuristic as it gets,
An eradicator of the now,
An intertexture of the collapsed past,
The architecture of Future form,
Conceal as you may,
Reveal as you want,
Be someone you are not,
Or become someone you want to,
Or behave as you could have,
Construct an identity, build a persona,
uncover, bare, undress,
Into nothingness and everything,

Redress, Restore, Rectify,
punctured part of something,
the perforated pinnacle of perception,
altered unified ingenuity
 connect exclusively,
observe keenly,

To be the cosmic connection,
To let its magic consume you
uncover as unanimity,

No one will see,
No one can see,
No one wants to see,
The gaze will reverse,
The gaze will subvert,
The gaze won’t exist even.

Black will unite you back,
Black will not be a shadow, 
Black will let the light come through,
Black will make it seen,
Black will be the colorless reality,
Black will be the color of truth,
Black will be the new spectrum of colors,
The ultimate truth of visibility.

Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Uncanny Encounter
Digital Print on Canvas
Edition of 3
36” by 24”
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Gills of Symmetry
Digital Print on Canvas
Edition of 3
36” by 24”
Non-mendable Malleability
Title: Extraterrestrial Warrior
Digital painting, art giclée print on canvas
Edition of 3
16” by 11”
For more info Reach us at

Visual Art @ayesharayy
Costumes @oshiibrownie
Thank you!
Dark Skies Gaze Back

Dark Skies Gaze Back

IVS GALLERY, Cosmic Tribe & Oshii Brownie invite you to the opening of 'Dark Skies Gaze Back' Showcasing works by Ayesha M. Ali based on research Read More