artist: Kati London, Thomas Duc, Laila El-Haddad, Dan Phiffer, Mushon Zer-Aviv, Daniel Garcia Andujar, Zhou Hongxiang, Banu Cennetoglu, Negar Tahsil, Kate Armstrong, and Ali Taptik.
venue: Akbank Art Center
coordinates: Istanbul, 2008
The perceptual re-construction of space is a continuous process, generated by diverse inputs such as our senses, memory, history, consciousness as well as technology. It is a process, consisting of momentary fragments, which are impossible to record. They are temporary, augmented, designed, and loaded.
“Unrecorded” exhibition looks at the notion of space as a decisive factor in our perception of the realities that surround us. The works of Kati London (US), Thomas Duc (France), Laila El-Haddad (Palestine), Dan Phiffer (US), Mushon Zer-Aviv (Israel), Daniel Garcia Andujar (Spain), Zhou Hongxiang (China), Banu Cennetoglu (Turkey), Negar Tahsili (Iran), Kate Armstrong (Canada), and Ali Taptik (Turkey) unfold and restructure all possible perceptual codes through their own inspections, observations, and approaches. They ask questions about the physicality of the space; content of mediatized spaces; clashes between realities and perception of spaces; spaces and situations, discharging information; and narrative spaces.
Exhibition space is deliberately designed to minimize the interaction between the data input of physical space and the audio-visual senses of the viewer, in order to drive the viewer into the realm of each work. Thus, each and every work leads to another, through a unique navigation established by each viewer. In this respect, works in the exhibition are re-positioned, re-linked in space-time relative to the “reading” done by each viewer, building alternative paths. Inevitably, the exhibition takes the phases of informational capitalism, global scenarios for socio-political, cultural and economic gaps into consideration, on each and every visit.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of lectures and workshops developed by a group of artists, writers, curators and theorists including Jalal Toufic, Nat Muller, Technologies To The People (Daniel G. Andujar), Laila El-Haddad, Dan Phiffer, and Mushon Zer-Aviv.
A presentation and talk by Laila El-Haddad, Dan Phiffer and Mushon Zer-Aviv
You Are Not Here
Laila El-Haddad, Dan Phiffer and Mushon Zer-Aviv present the You Are Not Here project and discuss the mediated interpretation of space in the context of military occupation and the resistance to it. You Are Not Here project tries to expose the contrasts and the similarities between two cities. Both in the case of Baghdad / New York and that of Gaza City / Tel Aviv while the cities realities are politically involved both the emotional and cognitive perception of these corresponding spaces are completely detached from one another. You Are Not Here attempts to challenge this detachment by providing a mediated experience that still maintains a human scale.
A talk by Nat Muller
Soft Reality meets Soft Space
An Attempt towards an incomplete Glossary A proposal for interpreting the soft collisions between messy systems of representation and spatial conceptions.
A 3 days practical and theoretical workshop/meeting by Technologies To The People. Directed by Daniel G. Andújar
DIT “Do It Together” Workshop Series
The Apprehension of reality from the Postcapital Archive
This interdisciplinary workshop is open to cultural & media producers, artists, scientists, theorists, activists, and anyone interested in design, visual communication, art, media, and cultural sciences. The objective of the workshop is to facilitate reflection upon the structures of the “public” process, communication methods, and the possibilities these present. It also aims to intervene artistically using modern communication technology methods, and to test new “public” participation models.
A 2 days lecture by Jalal Toufic
You Said “Stay,” So I Stayed
Attending to the film Groundhog Day, Jalal Toufic lectures on the will and its relation to eternal recurrence. The ordeal of the will is not only that one has to go through countless recurrence and, in the guise of one’s computer emulations or of some of one’s versions in other branches of a bifurcating universe, in desperation commit suicide myriad times; but also that once the will is accomplished, one thenceforth is going to have not only to accept everything that happens, even vast catastrophes, but also, since a genuine will is an ontological selector that automatically renders anything that cannot be willed in the mode of eternal recurrence impossible, to affirm its eternal recurrence: amor fati.
“…but that of some place alien, distant, and yet, by means of the empathy box, instantly available”.
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1967
The perceptual re-construction of the notion of “space” is a continuous process, generated by diverse inputs such as our senses, memory, history, consciousness, as well as technology. It is a process, consisting of momentary fragments that are impossible to record. They are temporary, augmented, designed, and loaded.
It is inevitable for any affirmative perception of space to be historicized and politicized. Indeed, we do perceive any aspect of a space “individually”, but simultaneously re-process this perception as coded collective “reality”. Yet, there are multiple realities, therefore being “coded“ is not enough to produce “a single” history and/or memory. In the same line of thought, to subscribe to any kind of “recording” would also be an illusionary act. Recording is a subjective act as each recording requires a transformation of raw data into a fully enhanced result and this result is always framed. The only perception that can be re-enacted derives from our coded realities and from our own “constructed” memory of events, not necessarily constituent of “spaces”. Any defined “space” is in a flux of change -whatever its pace. Yet, the very definition determines our realities, how we perceive the world, and live our life through these realities.
In this respect, the exhibition “Unrecorded” looks at the notion of space as a decisive factor in our perception of the realities that surround us. The exhibition space is deliberately designed to minimize the interaction between the data input of physical space and the audio-visual senses of the viewer, pulling the viewer into the realm of each work. The deployment of darkness serves to (i) erase the traces of the actual space1; (ii) to create a sense of disorientation by creating identical dark corridors2; (iii) to isolate works from the space through creating a floating effect. Thus, each and every work leads to another, through a unique navigation established by each viewer. A multi-path maze-like corridors open up to rooms/spaces differing in shape, size and scale. Therefore, the viewer can never estimate what the next stop will look like, since there is no possibility for the viewer to see the totality of the space from a privileged perspective; s/he is always in it, therefore becomes a part of it. In referring to medieval and baroque gardens, Kristian Veel points out that ‘the labyrinth was regarded as a controlled piece of disorder’ (2006: 6). Yet, in this design, the aim is to raise the feeling of control -even surveillance- and order over the viewer, but without creating the sense of confusion -enabled by the existence of multiple exit routes. Moreover, each work is located in a separate room/passage/space as independent nodes of a network. In this network, works in the exhibition are re-positioned, re-linked in space-time relative to the “reading” done by each viewer, building alternative paths.
The corridors are dimly lit with red spotlights on the walls near the floor, which, when followed, lead to the works. No map or any other prior information is made available to the viewer, so the viewer’s attention provides her/him with a unique experience through the navigational route s/he chooses, the order of the works visited, and the time s/he chooses to spend in each node. Thus, the nametags are made out of red LED, and the text/info, just like the unrecorded memory of a space, does not freeze, but rolls recurrently.
Parallel to the spatial design of the exhibition, the works underline the vacillated constitution of “space” as a notion. These works unfold and restructure all possible perceptual codes regarding the notion of the “space” through their own inspections, observations, and approaches. They present questions regarding the physicality of the space; the content of mediatized spaces; the clashes between realities and perception of spaces; spaces and situations, where a previously ascribed meaning is discharged; and narrative spaces.
Daniel Garcia Andujar’s work, “Hack Landscape”, operates by dividing the space into two: the outside and inside. The outside dominates the inside through windows -an actual window and screens that form a third window3. The viewer/user/guest in the inside is able to generate “present time” projections of “hacked” landscapes – images hacked from live cameras. The present-ness of these landscapes seem to be inhabited in their faculty of being a live broadcast, just like television. However, taking the instance of participation as a point of convergence for the “live-ness” of such an apparatus would be a deceptive deliberation. Since instruments and technical manipulations are inserted in the processes of recording, transmission, and reception, it is impossible to consider the “live-ness” of television or any other camera to be something direct and actual. The televisual image is not produced “after” or “inside” its temporal and spatial frames; rather, these are working dimensions of apparatus4. Thereby, the present-ness of electronic productions of image and sound are potentially always present on the television screen, and likewise on live camera. Deborah Esch elucidates “the present” as the appropriate time which could direct “the failure to reflect on the rhetorical, temporal, and ideological conditions of the signals we mistakenly call ‘live’” (1993: 76). Andujar’s work inevitably raises questions about this mistake that consists in the argument of “televised reality and the perception constructed by this live-ness”.
The work, at the same time, hacks surveillance cameras that monitor us. What is hacking, then? Who monitors who? Who hacks who? And what are the physical and ethical limits/borders of hacking? This freedom of hacking is also limited by the locations and capacity of the cameras, despite the Google results which offer thousands of camera options to choose from. In this case, the viewer can potentially choose amongst various time slices and locations from all over the globe in the very “present” time.
Yet, this present time is correlated with the data stream which depends on the rising demand of the spectacle. It also corresponds with the overloaded information where information and disinformation are equalized by the dynamics of an apparatus which enables data streaming. In the same line of thought, Zhou Hongxiang’s video work “The Red Flag Flies” (Hongqi Piao) acts like a search engine, asking numerous successive questions regardless of order. The answers in the form of iconic, symbolic, and mostly metaphorical scenes, are like search results that display slogans, idioms and mottos. Each scene constructs a space-time reality that visualizes the constructed perspective within the realm of oral narratives. Thus, the work offers many alternative paths that might lead to many other alternative realities that would bend and break the rigid frames of the reality dictated by authority. Such threats to the domination of the country has brought on the Chinese government’s ongoing ban of the Google search engine.
Likewise, Kate Armstrong’s work, “Path”, constructs a fabricated memory “of a space” as well as of an anonymous person, and expects the viewer, who is “a reader” in this work’s context, to complete the physicality of the space in their minds. The organization of the work enforces the audience to grasp all the qualitative components that constitute space through patterns. In this respect, this work is all about detecting, perceiving, and experiencing patterns. Just like a code being an organized system of a set of elements, these (detected, experienced, read, constructed) patterns are mathematically systemized on each visit, and are based on the spatial perception of “the anonymous” person in the work and viewer. Armstrong’s work refrains from dictating a linear order and/or plot organization, as do the other works in the exhibition. It is absolutely possible to enter and exit the work from any point of preference. This structure inevitably constructs an interwoven web of interconnected spaces, where the quality of intricacy is fully dependent on the immersion of “the reader”.
Banu Cennetoglu’s light box, “Dsyfunctionals #6”, displays a segment from a historically charged place – Anitkabir, the monumental mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, located in the capital city of Turkey. The light box greets the viewer from a 45 degree angle and starts it’s perceptual play with the viewer as the viewer looks at the box from above. Then, one by one, the details begin to agitate the viewer: the length of the grass in comparison with the people in the photograph; the casual outfits of the visitors; the market bag carried by one of the visitors in this formal site; the careless paint on the flagpole. It is a maquette of the site, not the site itself; yet, it is just a photograph.
“You are not here”, a project by Kati London, Thomas Duc, Laila El-Haddad, Dan Phiffer, and Mushon Zer-Aviv, connects spots on maps through oral stories. Visualizing a spot on a map through the attempt of forming an association with an actual place is in itself a challenging act, but this time the visualization process requires further effort since the spot corresponding to the location has never been seen and visited before by the viewer. The work underlines the “impossibility” of diminishing distances and borders. The difference and distance are not only physical, but also mental. The detailed narration and historical data (which follows a tourism strategy), accompanied by maps, increases the gap and the awareness regarding the scale of indifference amongst cultures, geographies and societies.
Ali Taptik’s photographs do not indicate a series and/or form a unity when arrayed. Hence, these photographs are controversial to the documentary nature of “photography”, which is based on narration. Although they are rich with detail, they do not give any clue about their time-space coordinates. In the same way that implanted memory vignettes ground memory sets, the details in the photographs activate the viewer’s memory to construct her/his own narration. These frames are not immersive; they keep their distance with each other and with the viewer. Uncanny. Undefined. Unrecorded.
On the other hand, Negar Tahsili’s video work wittily reflects her conception of probably the most recorded event of all times. The event of 9/11 has generated one of the most copied and distributed images in media history. Thus, the event has haunted the collective memory of the world through media imagery. Yet, the event has never been regarded for its similarity to other events in different geographies. Tahsili’s short video displays a fictive world map with slightly different borders which indicate like-minded territories. The video’s soundtrack and the sound effects, taken from news footage, recalls the moving images of well-known and almost generic types of devastation; air raids, blasts, people desperately crying and shouting. Nevertheless, Tahsili’s video does not display any of those images. The camera follows a cluster of iron fillings on a hand drawn world map. The magnetized iron fillings seem to be mesmerized by an unseen power, and follow a trail of unconscious flow. They cross over the continents to clash with other clusters of iron fillings, leading to other raids of revenge. In the end, the whole set of particles, which are in fact “of one essence”, face their inevitable end of total annihilation.
In a heightened perspective, the ultimate boundary of the physical exhibition space does not limit and restrict the flow of information. On the contrary, it opens up endless gateways and shortcuts to a multitude of spaces of many conceptions. The total amount of information stored in finite spaces merges into a new entity, which eventually builds up a sensible knowledge in the viewer’s mind. Within a higher level of perception, the exhibition “Unrecorded” presents a modest version of a narrative, consisting of interconnected narratives which carry the full potential of merging with one another on multiple levels and layers.
1. Through simple interventions -building walls, closing certain parts down, painting the walls black and the ceilings dark grey, using black carpeting, and changing the direction of the entrance.
2. Still, the exhibition’s navigation system was designed to be simple and open.
3. Paul Virilio uses the term “third window” as a metaphor for television that simulates the mother womb carrying the entire world.
4. Richard Dienst explains the working dimensions of television through two concepts: “still time” and “automatic time”. Still time is the “breaking of one movement of images by a kind of mechanical movement”, whereas automatic time is “the extension of a movement by another kind of mechanical movement”. (1994: 159-160). While automatic time refers to continuity by gathering, arranging and combining sets of images, still time slices off images.
Virilio, Paul. “The Third Window: An Interview with Paul Virilio”. Global Television. Int. Jonathan Crary, Trans. Yvonne Shafir Eds. Cyntia Shneider and Brian Wallis. Cambridge; Massachusetts; London: The MIT Press, 1991: 185-197.
Dienst, Richard. Still Life in Real Time: Theory After Television.: Post-Contemporary Interventions. Eds. Stanley Fish and Fredric Jameson. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1994.
Esch, Deborah. “No Time Like The Present”. Culture Lab 1. Ed. Brian Boigon. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1993: 61-78.
published in Unrecorded. Ed. Başak Şenova. Akbank Art and Culture Center. 2008.