Question: Can you tell us about the show “Monochrome”?
Answer: The show developed organically. We were trying to come up with an idea for the show. With whom do we want to work? What kind of a show do we want to realize? Which works do we want to show? That was basically the starting point, and slowly we came to realize that the two of us have very similar aesthetic preferences. We thought about how many works of this kind we’ve so far exhibited and focused on that. As our ideas progressed, we came up with the “monochrome” idea. We decided not to show works with bright colors, and instead focus on the ones that were rather black&white, and as we began to pick suitable works, we came up with the conceptual foundation for the show. It began with just an idea.
Q: How did it evolve into its current state with its focus on form?
A: It developed gradually. As we were elaborating the idea, we began to think about the concept of duality. That was actually the starting point. The duality of black and white. However, none of these are straightforward videos. All of them are based on code, made on computers. They are made of “binary code”, 0 and 1. We see the resulting images, but those images are made of these numbers.
Q: What about the image of trees we see in the background?
A: It’s actually a 3d-scanned image. The artist (Quayola) has visited the exact location in France where Van Gogh had painted 125 ago, and he used 3d scanners to convert the area into 3d data. The work also has a specific reference. He’s a video artist. We used to use oil paints to depict nature, and then we used photography, then video. And we now have this 3d-scanning technology. How can data represent something? Though it looks quite painterly, it’s the most hi-tech work in the show. It’s based completely on data. How does one reproduce what one sees by making use of data? Even a work that seems to be purely about images is based on an impressive amount of technology. We put emphasis on the idea of the binary system of 0-1 and black-white and we based the show on these concepts. Some works are more organic, while others are geometric. We painted the walls of the ground floor white and placed the organic works there. The second floor was painted black and the geometric works were installed there. The first floor is completely quiet, whereas the second floor is quite loud with the sounds of all works blending into one another. So everything is based on a duality; quiet-loud, black-white, organic-geometric. The idea of “Monochrome” is also similar. We tried to focus on the whole spectrum between the two extremes, however at the end this turned into an exhibition that showcases everything we like in works of new media. I think Irmak would also agree: the thing I like the most about new media is its multi-layered nature. It’s quite good at capturing one’s attention. Its outer surface is enough to accomplish that. These are works that appear quite beautiful and attractive on the outside. They can attract the attention of anyone. However it’s (not) enough for us curators that artworks appear pretty. The works are built on quite an impressive technology, which would make them attractive for those who are interested in such things. Furthermore, there’s also a philosophical background. I like this multi-layered quality of the works. Yes, they have philosophical and technological undertones, but if you aren’t interested in technology nor philosophy, you can still like them as they look visually appealing. It’s an important feat to create work that not only looks good, but also has things to say. For example, even a 70-year-old woman can sit in front of a work, and watch waves for hours, saying “there’s nothing like the nature, it’s wonderful!”. The important thing here is to attract both this old woman who wants to watch waves and somebody who knows something about the technology behind it. The size of this spectrum is the most exciting quality for a medium. “Monochrome” corresponds to this exactly. We’re happy with this situation. We visit Akbank every two days to check on the works, and we also have other meetings there. I find it quite surprising that we get a lot of younger visitors who normally don’t go to shows; however they are quite knowledgeable about these things, they work in design or advertisement, they bring their cameras with them. They share amazing videos they’ve made in the show, which we like. Families with children also visit a lot. Children get really impressed, they lose themselves. Some kids hear a rhythm and accompany it by tapping on benches, some kids get lost in trees. It’s also good for the families that they can visit a show and share the whole experience as a family. We were surprised to find out that some of them visited the show 2 or 3 times.
Memo Akten, equilibrium
Q: How did you adapt the show to the gallery space? Can you tell us about this process?
A: Akbank Sanat is quite a problematic space, it’s not really fitting for such a show. It turned out to be really difficult to hold a new-media show in a space which wasn’t built for this purpose. We’ve actually been struggling with this issue for years. We’ve experienced it in various ways over the last 11 years. That’s why we had to make a lot of changes to the space. We tried to reshape it by building rooms and diagonal walls on the upper floor. It’s difficult to leave a space as it is and try to do something with it. We don’t like showing each work in isolated rooms. This has been the issue with new media for years; putting everything into closed spaces. We try to avoid it, unless it’s really required. We don’t do it unless the work features sound; we don’t like the idea of putting distance between viewers and the work. Rooms should be based on a concept. We tried to create as large spaces as possible. We don’t want to have spaces which you can control. You have to arrange the space in such a way that it becomes yours. We thought about whether to show in the ground floor works that have a lot of movement and sound, so that people passing by would be curious and come in. But we’ve instead decided to have a calm and quiet entrance to the show, in order to lure people slowly in. Then there’s a slow transition to the louder works, which are shown on the second floor. We’ve played with the space itself as well. This is also fitting for the works. We didn’t build rooms just because we thought it would be cool, we did it in order to enhance and deepen the experiences the works offer.
ZIMOUN, 216 DC motor, izolasyonsuz tel, 216 prepared DC-motors, filler wire, 2009