Untitled” (Mechanics of Place)

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Abstract:

  • Workshop Statement

    “Untitled” (Mechanics of Place) draws from a database of video streams made specifically for this work, in multiple locations at different times, layering these moving images onto specific locations in the streets of Istanbul.  When the camera recognizes a predetermined location on the street, it plays the corresponding video that has been assigned to that co-ordinate, layering it architecturally into the site. This is a three day workshop, followed by a roundtable discussion. Participants in the workshop are welcome to join for 1 – 3 days. Each day we will review the parameters of the project and the specifications for shooting and editing video.  Workshop participants will go into Istanbul to shoot and edit video that we will upload to the Mechanics of Place database.  Each day we will we will test the project on-site and then assess the experience through a round-table discussion on 9/16.  The results will be coalesced into a paper and presented at the CAA 2012 Centennial conference, Los Angeles, in the session:  The Aesthetics of Mobile Network Culture in Placemaking. “Untitled” (Mechanics of Place) will be situated in the neighborhood of Tophane, a district of Istanbul that is in a state of cultural transition and is the location of Istanbul’s vibrant art scene. In the 1800’s the area was largely Greek and Armenian, filled with laborers who worked in the industrial facilities of the port.  It is now a mostly Muslim neighborhood, as the ethnic minorities were expelled when the Republic of Turkey was established in 1922.  The video poems in this project are intended to reflect the issues of cultural disjunction of Istanbul, its volatility and remix of religious and ethnic tensions. These small films draw upon the transitional urban context to fully achieve their meanings.  The final walking route will follow an algorithmically designed path that has multiple hot spots where the videos will be seamlessly laid into the landscape.
    The title of the project references the conceptual puzzles of the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and engages the narrative strategy of superimposition. Further, it alludes to the mechanical science of the Byzantine Empire where a unity between the real and the ideal was understood as a space that combined concrete elements and abstract notions.  The great Byzantine mathematician Anthemius, one of the architects of the Hagia Sophia, considered doors and windows as structures through which the sun’s rays enter and become geometrically mirrored toward a single surface, materializing the relationship between structure and path of light. Following this connective geometry, “Untitled” (Mechanics of Place) transmits a different kind of light: video luminosity virtually layered onto the architectural surfaces of the streets of Istanbul, echoing the illumination on the interior walls of the grand church/mosque of Anthemius’s design.  In “Untitled” (Mechanics of Place), the small screen videos create a relationship between distant narrative and current moment, artist/collaborator and pedestrian participant. The remixed image becomes a mediated fragment nested into reality, positioning itself between public and private and creating a nexus between history, social circumstances, memory and ephemera. The cameraphone in this project serves as “burning mirror”, accessing these video streams stored in the data-sphere and redirecting them to the doors, windows and framed architectural elements of the current location. The participants in the project are made up of local inhabitants and visitors to the areas where the project is authored and displayed.  The project facilitates new forms of collective participation and unpredictable collaboration between itinerant viewers and their surroundings. The ephemeral events that take place in these walks generate opportunities for unexpected encounters with familiar places and reveal the potential for artistic engagement in a new participatory medium.