I want to make an installation that questions the construction of identity through memory and collective memory, consisting of series of still images, moving images, and spatial images (3D, like a statue) where they can act together. I want to form pieces out of pieces, a photographic image created out of discarded film negatives, a video collage out of found footage of mass media images, a sculptural image out of my medical waste objects that I collect, aiming to construct a piece out of the deconstructed pieces that would be questioning the formation of our memories and how they structure the identity on the individual and collective level. While the first two are deeply connected to the idea of collective memory, especially in relation to space, the third one is mainly about singular and personal instances.
I want to design the space for the works in a such manner that it would evoke the feeling of home, something that is familiar, maybe a reproduction of a certain set that everybody is familiar with (Central Perk café in the series Friends would be an example- but just an example)
Why? The formation of identity goes hand in hand with construction of the memory. I believe this construction happens on different levels, personal and social. I want to create works that represent different versions of this phenomenon.
On the personal level, I consider my diabetes as something that defines me, and the experience I have with certain objects are very intimate. The needles that pierced my body- that were under my skin for some time- contain my biological information on them. These objects are manufactured to be used once and only once, never to be used again. What I aim to do, in Flusser’s terms, is to change their role as tool objects memory objects. In this way, they become monuments of information, representing both the object memory and my identity.
On the social level, the mass media images that we are exposed to create a certain collective memory that defines our world, and in the long run also our history. The media images (of TV and the Internet) affect each individual in a pre-determined way, and as the collection of personal memories constitutes the collective, the mass media holds the power of creating the history of humanity. The existence of the digital archive of media images as an electronic memory affects the oral history, and now it determines what we call the truth. As the electronic memory will seem to be more credible, what belongs in that domain will be our truth. The individual memory will become less and less significant, until the point that it becomes the same thing with the collective memory. Who decides what will be included and what won’t in our history?
I see the making of a collage image with the discarded film negatives as a combination of the social and personal aspect of memory construction. These negatives that are left behind contain information of very personal value, personal memories, but a collection of personal and singular elements result in a social and multifaceted formation, what we call the collective. Through my agency these images will go through a transformation from the individual to the collective.
For the photographic collage I aim to work with discarded film negatives that I collect from certain locations: photography studios/shops, the WDKA darkroom, flea markets, online mediums and so on. I think the choice of the places that the images are collected from is significant in context of the final photographic image I will create. After a process of analyzing images and deconstructing them to its elements, I am going to do analog prints of selected photographs in the darkroom and create a new photographic image out of them.
For the moving image collage, I am considering possibly a VR environment, a virtual atmosphere of a hexagonal structure, with a screen at each side that will have fast paced, constantly changing clips of video images from the mass media, each screen designated to a certain characteristic (political, pop culture, funny videos, celebrities etc. -to be decided); reenacting our daily exposure as an immersive experience.
For the 3D collage image, using the my medical waste that I have been saving for the past months, I am thinking of making a life mask, covered with the needles, or perhaps more of a gridded structure, but a piece in which the parts that constitute the whole are perfectly visible, and recognizable.
For the timetable, I’ll be prototyping and discovering the options for each case. September – November 9: prototyping different ideas, to see if the representation in three different mediums works together coherently. Decide accordingly to keep working with different elements (of still image, video image and spatial image) or to make a singular video piece. (Note to Steve: I want to discuss the idea of artwork as something that is “read” and artwork as something that is “experienced”) November 9 - January: Depending on the outcome of the previous step, start working on the production of the work, collection of images for still/moving work. Learn to use the software (Unity) for VR, and other technical knowledge required for the production of the artwork(s). From January: tbd
I would be getting help from several different people: Steve and Marloes for the formation of the project, Javi and/or Brigitte from the Interaction Station, fellow students (especially Felix since he is becoming an assistant in the interaction station and since he already worked with Unity), tutors (with their feedback), everyone (inside and outside of NL) who would be willing to share their experiences about the past/their past and their recollection of it. The relevance of the project to the previous year would be the darkroom printing process, which has a direct relation to the indexical attributes of the photographic image: using the film negative (an indexical object in terms of the light leaving a trace on the light sensitive material, offspring of optics and chemistry) to create a printed image (actually the repetition of the previous step with different material; subject becomes the film negative and the film negative becomes the light-sensitive paper) with my interventions between these two steps that takes place through the transfer of the photographic image to a new surface which creates a third meaning, a new set of information, a new trace.
In the video piece I made for the Eye ResearchLabs I was working with the concept of recollection of a memory, and the general idea was based on the fact that we reconstruct our memory each time we remember a past event, and therefore we forget each memory as we remember them. I believe the video had a very direct way of narrating the idea, this time my aim is to keep it more abstract; my aim with the video is to make more of an immersive experience. The subjects that we covered in the annotated reader we created with Mia, Felix, Sonia and Andy are deeply connected to the work I want to do, especially notions that Flusser introduces in his book “Towards a Philosophy of Photography” such as the distribution of images, ‘the photographic universe’ and ‘technical images’ form a good basis for the research I want to make. His other writings about the significance of screens as surfaces (surfaces as something to be read, something that is scanned to be analyzed) are also connected to the idea I am aiming to investigate.
While I was doing my research on the memory and the collective memory, I have seen that what we call individual memory is merely created by the collective experiences, therefore in the most basic sense it can be said that all our memories belong to the collective. The memory is shaped by the independent agents around us, and it can be foreseen that it can be easily manipulated, and reconstructed. I am interested in the different ways our memory is constantly being reconstructed, with the images we are constantly exposed to through mass media, mainly the TV and the Internet, as the primary sources of the images (especially moving) about the world that surrounds us. Often, the choice of images are determined (in terms of the content and the aesthetics) by an institution of power, be it the government, a news agency, the media bosses etc. All the choices that are made from the recording of the image to the distribution of the image always contain a political influence. I want to discover these influences that shape our memory, and show what is also happening in my country, in the present, in the actual.
Flusser, V. (1983) Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books
Flusser, V. (1990). On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise). Leonardo, 23(4), p.397.
Halbwachs, M. and Coser, L. (n.d.). On collective memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Vilem Flusser (several works including “towards a philosophy of photography” and his writings about screens, memory, lines and surfaces) Douwe Draaisma, Maurice Halbwachs, Carl Jung, Emile Durkheim Margaret Iversen – Photography Trace and Trauma
I want to make an exhibition that questions the construction of identity, memory and collective memory, consisting of series of still images, moving images, and spatial images (3D, like a statue) where they can act together. I want to form pieces out of pieces, a photographic image created out of discarded film negatives, a video collage out of found footage, a sculptural image out of the waste objects that I collect, aiming to reconstruct a new memory out of the deconstructed pieces.
For the photographic collage I aim to work with discarded film negatives that I collect from different locations: photography studios/shops, the WDKA darkroom, flea markets, online mediums and so on. After a process of analyzing images and deconstructing them to its elements, I am going to do analog prints of selected photographs in the darkroom and create a new photographic image out of them.
For the moving image collage, I will be collecting videos from online mediums and archives, related to the political statements of ministers, religious leaders, and the public.
For the 3D collage image, I want to use my medical waste that I have been saving for the past months, and create death masks out of them, as the collection of these objects contain two meanings; in one sense the passage of time and another sense my identity defined by my waste.
The relevance of the project to the previous year would be the darkroom printing process, which has a direct relation to the indexical attributes of the photographic image: using the film negative (an indexical object in terms of the light leaving a trace on the light sensitive material, offspring of optics and chemistry) to create a printed image (actually the repetition of the previous step with different material; subject becomes the film negative and the film negative becomes the light-sensitive paper) with my interventions between these two steps that takes place through the transfer of the photographic image to a new surface which creates a third meaning, a new set of information, a new trace.
What do you want to make?
I want to make a series of work consisting of still images, moving images, and spatial images (3D, like a statue) as an installation where they act together in a coherent way, or one work that feeds off of the other mediums, in that case an example would be to create a video piece that uses the documentation of the 3D structures and still images that I have created. I want to form a piece out of pieces, this rather be an image created out of photographic images, or the medical waste that I collect. The final work or works are planned to carry traces of me, resulting in an alternative way of self-portraiture.
How do you plan to make it?
I want to create a collage image composed of:
1) Film negatives
3) Synthesis of these two can result as: film negatives that are wasted
I acquired a handful of negatives from a photography studio that I visited back in Istanbul. Collecting negatives that people left behind -stuff they did not bother to pick up or maybe simply because they do not think about the physical presence of the image they have created- arises a quick thought on the ethics of the situation, but this a topic I am not going to visit right away. I am thinking of putting up a ‘recycle your negatives’ box in the darkroom of WDKA, for the desiring people to leave their images on a voluntary basis, which would also be good in the ethical sense as they would know what they are contributing to. What I aim to create would be collages, that can either be:
1) Designed on the miniscule scale, cutting up bringing together the negatives itself
2) Make prints out of them and create collages on a larger scale, probably more chance to experiment that way, at least at the beginning. The second one seems more suitable.
I also have the idea of creating art pieces that consist of smaller particles such as my medical waste to create a non traditional way of self portraiture as well.
What is your timetable?
1) Putting up a recycled negatives box in WDKA darkroom
2) Check what I have in my hand, maybe creating texts of descriptions of the images I possess.
3) Skipping part two and basically making prints (digital to make it lest costly perhaps?) of the images I have collected to look at them on a big scale and start deconstructing them to see the smaller parts they contain inside.
Why do you want to make it?
In general the theme of my method is reusing a neglected particle, be it a negative or a medical/everyday waste, the two things that intrigue me about this process:
1) The indexical traces they contain about the former usage / former user
2) The alteration of the meaning through creating a piece out of pieces
On one aspect, film negatives that are left behind by their creators are similar to the memories that are buried deep inside the consciousness. They exist but they are unreachable by the subject. The appropriation and manipulation of these memories/images that are processed by my interference create a new memory-image.
Who can help you and how?
1. Anyone who would be willing to give me negatives
2. Tutors from the masters especially about the topic of indexicality
3. All the other fellow students
4. Owners of the photography studios
Relation to previous practice The first one contains remnants of my work in the first year of the masters, what I have been doing with the film negatives, my manipulations in order to create a new kind of image with my impact. The darkroom printing process has a direct relation to the indexicality of the image: using the photographic image (the negative) as an indexical object to create another indexical object (the print) so what I achieve at the end is an index of an index when I basically print an image. My intervention that takes place through the transfer of the photographic image to a new surface creates a third meaning, a new set of information.
Relation to a larger context
1) The book I am currently reading “Photography, Trace and Trauma’ by Margaret Iversen
2) The analogy between psychoanalysis and photography, memory and photography.
3) Other artists that work with waste material, or the idea of recycling.
4) Artists that create experimental self portraits (the dutch artist that scanned and recorded all the barcodes of all the products he has used over a year)
5) Indexicality and its applications in art
My review on this text:
1) Describe indexicality and make sure the difference between Index (of a book, in the sense of grouping) and Indexicality as a topic of semiotics.
2) There are two paths that I am currently thinking of:
a) one based on the practice I did last year with the negatives, creating a collage by deconstructing and reconstructing photographic negatives
b) creating unconventional self portraits that are made up of waste (waste as id)
these two ideas share the concept of waste reuse, recycle, carrying indexical traces of former use and therefore and identity of its user.