curator: Basak Senova
curator’s assistant: Begum Satiroglu
artists: Ali Taptik, AnneMarie Maes, Burak Arikan, Candas Sisman, Hubert Czerepok, Ilgen Arzik, Mushon Zer-Aviv
visual identity: Erhan Muratoglu
venue: Koç University Campus and American Hospital Art Gallery, Operation Room
coordinates: Istanbul, 2013

A reciprocal relationship can be created between the practices of art and science that preserves disciplinary distinctiveness while challenging all participants in the areas where their respective disciplines are untried.
Piotr D. Adamczyk*

Seven research-based artists were invited to Koç University to meet with researchers from various fields to develop artistic projects which are engaged with the outstanding researches that are being conducted in the university. At first, huge amount of researches were presented by Koç University to the artists and the curator, then, 33 researchers, whose researches are in synch with the artists’ area of interest, were selected by the curator. After attending a set of meetings both with the curator and the researchers in a period of six months, the artist acted upon ideas behind particular researches that have challenged their perception and acquaintance with the scientific findings and academic data.

It was obviously observed that scientific visualisation or illustration of the researches was the first expectation of most of the scientists and academicians in the university from this project. Nonetheless, in line with the main goal of the project, the selected artists developed projects that are inherently critical and has its own research within. The projects as the outcome of this process are, indeed, responses to the researches –and/or to the fields of these researches-. Thereby, the balance between the scientists and academicians with the artists, in terms of acquaintance to each other’s field, was almost even in the beginning. In this vein, Scientific Inquiries project could be considered as an opportunity to bring the significant researches visible for the wider public. Consequently, the presence and the exploitation of the artists –as an engagement of non-specialists by approaching scientific and academic researches in a slightly different way – presented unexpected results in the campus. In this respect, Scientific Inquiries project was a mutual learning process both for the researchers, academicians, participating artists, and students. All of these actors have been the active audience during the entire process of the project. They witnessed meetings, discussions, installations, and debates hovering around the art works.

The research and working methodology of the participating artists are all different from each other and furthermore, there are also specific and dissimilar processes within each methodology. For instance, Mushon Zer-Aviv’s starting point was a specific research focusing on the interaction of the mothers with their children in Turkey. Deriving from this topic, he developed a project which underlines how networked public is being controlled by media and the role of the public space in this context. Whereas AnneMarie Maes and Ali Taptik, developed their on-going, long-term researches, by combining them with the data and inspiration that they obtained from the prominent research fields in the university. Maes focused on various scientific fields, such as biology, ecology, sociology, archaeology, electronics and mechanical engineering. Her motive was to find and gather multiple perspectives on her own research. Likewise, Taptık made a thoroughly further research on a specific topic by gathering information from a researcher associated with law. With a parallel approach, Burak Arikan, who works with complex networks, trustees, and the companies and institutions, by referring to the fields of sociology and computer sciences.

On the other hand, Candas Sisman merges the findings of physics and neurology on perception to process a hybrid structure for his project. His project has an experimental prospect through the use of sound, light, optics, and vibration. A step further to this experimental approach, by Hubert Czerepok translated the concept of supersymmetry into a three dimensional light sculpture by challenging neon making techniques. Finally, İlgen Arzık decided to process her engagement with the scientists in due course of the project with her wallpapers and drawings.

The accumulation of the art projects not only appears as an important and constructive impetus for acknowledging the researches carried out by Koç University, also these projects explore further issues and context such as politics, economics, cultural and social conditions, physiological situations, control mechanisms, and modes of perception. For that reason, Scientific Inquiries project entails a potential for opening up new connections between researches, findings and applications in different fields, while challenging the role and the responsibility of the contemporary art for the society.

Spatial Decisions

The Scientific Inquiries project was set up in a fluid mode, naturally leading the viewers along the diverse lines of conception, methodologies and themes, inspired by the scientists and addressed by the artists. Each project was presented in different locations, physically separated from each other.

Projects by Ali Taptik, AnneMarie Maes, Burak Arikan, Candas Sisman, Hubert Czerepok, and Mushon Zer-Aviv took place at Koç University and Ilgen Arzik’s project was presented at American Hospital, Exhibition Gallery, Operation Room as an exhibition. In a like manner, a studio was transformed to a laboratory-like gallery space to host AnneMarie Maes’ project in an exhibition format. For Candas Sisman’s project, a container was located in one of the most crowded passage ways in the campus. Whereas Hubert Czerepok’s sculpture was installed at the library next to the windows; it can be both seen from outside and inside. Mushon Zer-Aviv’s mobile application was presented through a LCD screen at the food court. Similarly, both Ali Taptik’s and Burak Arikan’s projects appear as spatial installations that took place in the corridors of the university.

Each location was chosen according to the context of the project. Therefore, the fields of researches formed the spatial and navigational relationships among the projects of Scientific Inquiries.


project 1
“Meridians” by Ali Taptik

Meridians consists of images showing censored spreads and details from the blacktaped editions of Turkish translation of Henry Miller’s novel “Tropic of Capricorn” presented along with the originals the images depict. Can Yayınevi, one of the most important literary publishing houses in Turkey, published the translation of “Tropic of Capricorn” first in 1985, when the publication was found sexually explicit, it was banned from distribution and its copies were destroyed. The translator and the publishing house were sentenced to pay large amounts as a punishment. In 1988, 40 publishers from Turkey reprinted “Tropic of Capricorn” without the apparent knowledge of Can Yayınevi and its translator by censoring the offensive content with black tape. They included the court decision of 1985 publication in the introduction of the book, which contained all the censored sentences as a part of expert witness’s statement. This edition was sued for obscenity as well but was cleared during trials as court decisions are in the public domain and can be published freely. The consecutive editions of the book are still presented with black tape and inclusion of the court decision. This work can be considered an homage to 40 publishers and Can Yayınevi for their poetic resistance in 1988, aiming to remind the importance of collective resistance in a country that is constantly dealing with oppression of free expression.

The project has been discussed with Asst. Prof. Dr. Zeynep Oya Usal Kanzler. Accordingly, Usal shared her knowledge on Turkish constitutional system, human rights and international human rights practices with the artist. Taptık considered these perspective during the further development and the execution processes of the project.

project 2
“The Transparent Beehive Cabinet” by AnneMarie Maes

AnneMarie Maes’ work is situated on the interstices between art, science, and community. As part of the Open Greens project, Maes focused on the city bees and studied the botanical conditions in which bees thrive. Bees exhibit very original solutions to the challenges that social insects face, e.g. on the level of communication and collective decision making. They are an endless source of visually stunning images and sounds and their remarkable collective behaviour provides inspiration and metaphors for the functioning of human society.

The Transparent Beehive is an observatory, a living laboratory to study how a bee colony evolves. The hive has been installed on a Brussels rooftop connected to an urban garden laboratory. The design used different ways to monitor the hive, such as through camera and audio recordings, measurements of humidity, temperature, and CO2. Maes also introduced the means to study interaction with the local environment: examination of pollen, analysis of honey, tracking of flight routes. The installation in Istanbul is a reconstruction of the research process in Brussels. The life in the hive and the interaction with the ecosystem will be reconstructed for the time slice April 2012 – June 2013, with data, sound and images. Additional materials include everyday objects from working with the bees and from the project’s archive.

During the course of the research phase of the project, invitations by the artist were sent to six scientists from Koç University to contribute with text, commentary, notes, or objects from their personal position. Many different scientific disciplines touch on bees, most obviously biology and ecology. Furthermore, sociology is another reference, as it helps us think in novel ways about social networks, self-organisation, distributed intelligence and complex systems science. There are also fascinating connections with art history and archaeology. The Bee-Queen culture was already important in the Anatolian Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük. Finally, electronics and mechanical engineers are inspired by the bees’ anatomy and sensorial systems for developing new state of the art technology.

project 3
“Higher Education Industrial Complex” by Burak Arikan

Private universities and boards of trustees connected to a network of companies and institutions make the higher education industrial complex of Turkey.

Analyzing the relations between the board of trustees, which are the power holders within the universities, with other institutions and corporations; compiling a database of such information; and generating a network map of these relations, in which one can navigate from one node to the other would provide us a tool in order to understand the ecosystem of higher education in political and social terms. The network map of 68 private universities, including Koç University, their board of trustees, and the companies and institutions that they share, aims to reveal the ecosystem, the central and peripheral actors, their indirect connections, and clusters of industrial complex of higher education.

The work is an installation of an interactive network map on a 47” touch screen display running on a custom software and a 260 x 125 cm digital print map.

project 4
“I/P/O-cle” by Candas Sisman

I – Input P – Process
O – Output
cle – Cycle

IPOcle is an installation simulating the way we perceive the reality that exist in our physical world and the various layers, variables, cycles that are present in this process of perceiving. With the senses that we have, we can perceive only a limited portion of the physical reality that surrounds us. This perceived physicality keeps altering as it goes through many layers and processes (biological and psychological) in our brains. These perceptions draw our perceptual schemas and these schemas in turn shape the reality we perceive. Our perceptions and what we perceive, therefore, constantly reshape call each other into being, as in a vicious cycle. At this point, how can we define what reality really is, what constant can we refer to, and aren’t we supposed to look at this issue in a more holistic and intertwined manner?

The IPOCle is made of a strong light source, lenses, a convex mirror, a fog machine and a sound system; installed inside a dark container. The light source is located so that the goes through the lenses, hung one after another. The refracted light reaches the mirror. The convex mirror transforms the light and reflects it back. The fog machine keeps running to make the dispersed light visible for us; while a base frequency keeps running in the background.

The light and the light source describe physical reality and input / The lenses: The process and various factors of perception / The mirror: What is perceived, the output and the cycle.

The artist has preferred to make use of common grounds that various studies meet; instead of basing all his work on a single research or researcher. Therefore, the I/P/O-cle project also focuses on the relations between various research topics and the patterns that reveal as a result of these relations. Şişman’s choice of research topics are about physics and neuro-sciences. “Perception” is at the intersection of these fields, therefore is the base for the project’s hybrid structure.

project 5
“Inherent Light” by Hubert Czerepok

A Calabi–Yau manifold, also known as a ‘Calabi–Yau” space, is a special type of manifold that is described in certain branches of mathematics such as algebraic geometry. The Calabi– Yau manifold’s properties also yield applications in theoretical physics. Particularly in superstring theory, the extra dimensions of spacetime are sometimes conjectured to take the form of a 6-dimensional Calabi–Yau manifold, which led to the idea of mirror symmetry.

– extracted from Wikipedia

Hubert Czerepok’s project is inspired by theoretical physicist Prof. Dr. Tekin Dereli’s research and knowledge that is based on supersymmetry. In physics, supersymmetry is a proposed extension of spacetime symmetry that relates two basic classes of elementary particles: ‘bosons’ (which have an integer-valued spin) and ‘fermions’ (which have a half-integer spin). This particular interest manifolds in the multidimensional shapes of the ‘Calabi–Yau manifold’. In view of that, the supersymmetric quantum field theory could be observed through these shapes.

Since we are living in four dimensional timespace and it’s quite difficult to imagine remaining invisible dimensions. In this context, Czerepok’s project which appears as a neon piece is an attempt to translate this concept into a three dimensional light sculpture. This light sculpture gives the hints of the Czerepok’s approach, which underlines the significance of producing an object of knowledge as an art piece. The abstract nature of this object both stands out against and corresponds with the calculated perfect forms of the neon strings. This subtle tension in the object aims to simultaneously detach from, connect, and reconnect its scientific references to its audience.

project 6
“Public Education” by Mushon Zer-Aviv

In a cross-cultural comparison, the average number of commands (an indicator of behavioral control) issued by Turkish mothers was 14.5 per minute in a community sample of Turkish parents, whereas this number ranged between 1.5 and 9 per minute among the mothers of Head Start children, the mothers of children with ADHD, and the mothers who were referred to family protective services in the U.S.

Dr. Nazlı Baydar, Running head: Parental Control and Externalizing Behaviors

Public Education is a work inspired by the surprising findings of Dr. Nazli Baydar and other Koç University researchers concerning the unique education styles of mothers in Turkey. While the mothers’ interaction with their children is very commanding and controlling, it is also considered very warm and caring. This cultural phenomenon helps explain why mothers are reluctant to send children to preschool and prefer to keep them home-schooled instead. Dr. Baydar believes it is time to get creative in finding ways to get children ready to the current and future challenges of our globalized world while still accommodating different cultural contexts. Public Education tries to do exactly that.

The work suggests a distributed model of public education that would meet the children’s needs by placing them under the command of the networked public.

A world map switching 14.5 locations per minute, each voicing its own short site-specific commands. These short commands will be contributed by visitors to the mobile app. Each would choose the location they want their command to be played in and record their short command to join a map of distributed omnipresent control.

Public Education attempts to go beyond parenting or any specific cultural phenomenon. It is an opportunity to inquire about the role and control of media in public space and to challenge the way we mindlessly rush away from old models of control and towards new ones.

project 7
“Fuzzy Set” by Ilgen Arzik

Ilgen Arzık brings four different research topics together in this project. Following this objective, she has done interviews with Assist. Prof. Tamer T. Önder on molecular biology and genetics; with Prof. Safiye Çavdar and Assoc. Prof. Yusuf Özgür Çakmak on anatomy; with Prof. Kemal Türker on physiology. She took notes, asked questions and made inferences. Several research projects have become a source of inspiration for the artist, such as research on the production of stem cells from four genes, how epilepsy experiments are conducted, new data discovered on the hearing sense and guided meditation practices. In the process of all these interviews, conversations and data flow, the artist decided to focus on her own position.

She aimed to communicate all of them using blackboards: all the information she heard or perceived, as if in a daydream; the success stories full of hope, and the dystopic horror scenarios that her mind produces. The little student girl “listening to the teacher” on the wallpapers designed by the artist, the blackboards on the wallpapers and the patterns on the blackboards construct a world of dreams, and we get to read those scientific studies through the artist’s imagination. This way the blackboard ceases to be the surface of authority and paves the way for the student’s/audience’s fantastic fiction – even for a short while. And the column, where the research topics are listed, is covered with wallpaper with “brain” patterns.

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