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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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For the timetable, I’ll be prototyping and discovering the options for each case.
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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.
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Flusser, V. (1983) Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books
Flusser, V. (1983)Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books
Flusser, V. (1990). On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise). Leonardo, 23(4), p.397.
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.
Halbwachs, M. and Coser, L. (). 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 installation consisting of a moving image and a series of still images.
The moving image is going to be an interactive multichannel video with channels that audience can go through. On the primary channel will be a video essay revolving around the Madımak Massacre of 1993, while other channels will consist mostly of videos I made out of found footage from Turkish mass media channels, mainly images that left a trace on my thinking of the past either through emotional impact or through excessive repetition. While the audience will have some control over the image on the screen, I want to set an equilibrium between the main video channel and other channels.
The series of 35mm images will be photographs of places where the traumatic events covered in the video essay were set, like the former Madımak Hotel (now a Science and Culture Center) and other relevant settings. I want the still images to have a juxtaposing relation to the video images, in terms of their quality as personal photographic objects. They might be in the form of framed prints or a photo-book.
I have started to collect videos through Youtube, I am currently categorizing them in order to create clips and making prototypes out of them. I also conduct research through conversations with my friends of Turkish nationality about the instances they remember, and include them if those images had the same effect on me as well. These will mainly serve as the minor channels in the video installation.
I am conducting a research by reading articles on Madımak Massacre, including the ones about its historical existence, its presence in mass media channels, but also its significance as a traumatic event in the collective memory, in comparison with other significant events in Turkish history. I want to make the video essay without a voiceover or an accompanying text that explains the image shown on the screen (besides subtitles when seen fit), I want to make a visual narration through montage. However I will be checking the literary works that employ a more personal approach to the event, delve into the poetic works of the victim Metin Altıoklar, and also the discourses of politicians on this event in order to have a base for the narration.
For the still images, I plan to go to the places that the events took place and document their present condition, and also small monumental parks in other cities that were named after the Madımak Massacre as an effort to keep the memory of the event alive. I will be making analog photographic images, and may use my style of physical manipulation in the darkroom printing process.
As the still images will be about the individual memory aspect of the event, I am also considering the possibility of including family photographs that I might obtain through two possible interviews, one with Zeynep Altıoklar (Metin Altıoklar’s daughter, and currently a minister of CHP, the main opposition party) and the other with the family of Carina Joanna Thuijs, the only foreign victim of the massacre.
Until the break I aim to create a certain amount of videos that could take place in the channels. After the winter break I will start to work on the video essay. Throughout this period I can still develop the way I want to design the installation, and depending on the decision I can act accordingly; getting familiar with Arduino, or making more small clips for other channels if necessary, etc. I plan to have all the moving images ready by April, and from that point on I aim to work on the representation of the works in the installation. The timetable is subject to change if I succeed at arranging interviews with families of the victims.
Memory is a crucial aspect in formation of identity. When thought of as memory objects, photographic images possess the ability to form the memory of individuals. 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 images) 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. In my video installation I want to give some (limited) control to the audience on what they can see on the screen, similar to the limited control they have in real life. In the installation I undertake the role of authority, and I demand that they look into the images of trauma and injustice, repeating themselves, while being accompanied by a pinch of instances of real life absurdities.
The Madımak Massacre is one of the darkest moments in recent Turkish history, with a death toll of 37 people, 33 of them being artists and their families visiting the town for the Pir Sultan Abdal Festival that they have been invited to participate. Even though there were other massacres done by radical Islamists toward Alevi population in the same decade, its particular traumatic nature is caused by two primary reasons. The first one is the current situation of the primary perpetrators; in 2011, one of the main perpetrators was claimed to be found dead in Sivas, exact city the massacre has happened, while some of them became German citizens to evade the prosecution.
The other reason is the dismissed request of victims’ families and Alevi organizations to transform the building into a museum. After its restoration, the building served as a Kebap restaurant for ten years, and now has been made a very mediocre science and culture center. Inside the building, there is a wall designated to the massacre, its banality aside, the main problem of the monument is that the name of two perpetrators are also on this alphabetically arrayed plaques. The families cannot accept a monument that carries the names of the killers next to their loved ones.
The inability to face this past event completely until this day is caused by the government’s damaged nature in juridicial mechanism and incompetence in mishandling the aftermath. There have also been many disturbing statements by politicians after the event trying to justify the crowd by claiming that the event was caused by the provocation made by the author Aziz Nesin, who was the main target the crowd failed to kill. The discriminating hate speeches of politicians go hand in hand with the obscenity of this event that happened openly in broad daylight. The agony arises from the fact that an event with such devastating outcomes actually could have been prevented very easily by the law enforcement institutions of the government. To this day, all the actions of the authorities have proved to be acts of denial, but never a confrontation. Sadly, this approach is not particular solely to this event, but is the case with many other crimes committed towards ethnical minorities in Turkey.
The representation of the trauma in contemporary art (mainly through photographic images) is investigated by Margaret Iversen in her book “Photography, Trace and Trauma” (2017).The idea of using art as a tool to represent the “unrepresentable” intrigues me, and in the body of work I’ll make I want to transfuse the feeling of the traumatic, senseless injustice.
I believe all the tutors and fellow students from the masters can help me through sharing their points of view about the project, but especially Natasha with her insight and Javi with his knowledge on interactive artworks. Older family members and acquaintances who have witnessed the event on TV and lived through those years. I want to conduct an interview with the minister Zeynep Altıoklar who is still very active in the fight against the dim atmosphere of the event and its aftermath. Depending on her approach, I also want to include her personal family photographs in the installation that can serve as a representation of the individual memory aspect in this social event. I’ll also try to get in contact with the family of Carina Joanna Thuijs, the Dutch national who fell victim to the massacre.
In the film I made for the Eye ResearchLabs I tried to cover the subject of recollection of a past event, and aimed to show the fragility of memory. With “Transgross”, I made a curation of the forgotten images in my hard drive to create a physical object that would be disturbing and beautiful at the same time. In the analog images that I made in the darkroom or with the scanner, I questioned the limits of a photograph, and aimed to create a certain language for myself that would convey the feeling of the abject, the traumatic. I might use the same physical manipulation techniques for the still images of this project.
Also, I can say that the subjects that we covered in our annotated reader last year form a basis to my work, especially with the terminology Flusser uses and his understanding of the cybernetic structure of the apparatus.
In the larger context, the works are connected to the recollection of past events in social domain; therefore the people that produced texts on the collective memory, such as Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, Jan Assmann, Henri Bergson are relevant. In terms of his works on the ICTs and as a more contemporary philosopher, I think the work of Bernard Stiegler might be relevant as well.
Some artists that I relate in terms of the subjects they cover and methods they utilize are Harun Farocki, Hito Steyerl and Robert Rauschenberg.
Iversen, M. (2017). Photography, Trace, and Trauma. 1st ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Draaisma, D. (2000). Metaphors of Memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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. (1992). On collective memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.