[-empyre-] ISEA2011 + Istanbul Biennial: Reversing the Roles

Machiko Kusahara kusahara at waseda.jp
Thu Sep 22 02:47:39 EST 2011

Greetings from Tokyo - I came back from Istanbul before the arrival of a powerful typhoon. 

For those who are still in Istanbul and have some time to see the city, I recommend visiting the Panorama 1453 to acquire an alternative viewpoint on the role of art in Turkey. It is a part of the National Museum organization of Turkey, and easily reached by the tram. You might have seen its miniature model at the amazing underground water reservoir. 

Panorama 1453 is a newly painted  panorama. The "old media" has been re-discovered by countries such as China and North Korea as a "new media" , an application of art that effectively contributes to nationalistic (in another word, propaganda) ideology. (As a member of the International Panorama Council, I met delegates from these countries who  travels to the West to sell their skills. My students are often surprised to see a North Korean cheap souvenir dolls on my office wall.)
Somehow Turkish government decided to use the old/new "art form" to visualize a most important historical moment of the country's history.

A curator I know from a private art museum (i.e.much against national museums) criticized that the ministry hired second-rate painters for the panorama and as the result the painting does not fully realize what a panorama should be. As a specialist in the field, and comparing it to other Western old and new panoramas I know (Mesdag, Dresden) I agree with her accusation.
Still, when I visited there last year on a weekend, the panorama was truly full of Turkish visitors. They could also get a souvenir photo - with the use of a green screen, visitors could buy a picture as if they have become a part of a scene in the panorama. The panorama business  seems to be extremely successful. I didn't see too many foreign visitors.

360 degree panorama in the West also mostly showed war scenes. In the US there remains one from the Civil War is in Atlanta. Today they are considered a "historical" media, almost a "wrong use" of art. But in Turkey, 1453 Panorama could well be a most representative use of art, or a first encounter to virtual reality, or to AR.

The Panorama 1453 would not be as memorable as the great mosques. Still it may provide an interesting insight to what art and policy on art could mean in a different culture.
For those who cannot visit the panorama hall, there are 3D virtual tour and youtube videos on the web.

Machiko Kusahara

On 2011/09/17, at 20:23, Timothy Conway Murray wrote:

> Hi, everyone,
> As you've heard, the participants of ISEA Istanbul have had to make a lot of adjustments to trying to think within a corporatized/militarized zone where participants must pass through innumerable security checks and x-ray machines before finding themselves in bunkered basement seminar rooms (underneath a gleaming, 40-something or more storied business tower) where new cyber-security systems block out the chance of our capitalizing on the same mobile networks we came to ISEA to discuss and exhibit.   My silence has been the partial result of having my mobile phone (blackberry) blocked while in that building, which has required that I leave the security zones for simple communications.  I even watched a security guard appear miraculously through a door when an ISEA participant was lingering for a period outside a bathroom, asking her what she was looking for (I don't think she responded "shit" but that would have been appropriate).
> Renate and I came to Istanbul expecting that we would posting contrasts between the liberatory, experimental nature of ISEA and the likely corporate/capitalist grounded Istanbul Biennial, which occur at the same time.  What a surprise we had yesterday to pass through the Biennial much less unencumbered by security and surveillant thought.  Rather than asking for donations of 300e for paper presenters, the Biennale is charging something like 15e for admission to two warehouses full of work.  What's more, the express Biennale theme of "politics and art," in homage to Felix Gonzalex-Torres, stands in distinct contrast to the corporatized style of ISEA where plenary speakers talk under huge logos and the canopy of the SA corporate structure, mentioned by Nick Knouf.  
> We're struck as well by a complete reversal to our accustomed DIY and Tactical Media communities.  While these communities are represented at ISEA, they are not forcefully present.  Indeed their workshops, talks, and exhibitions are strategically dispersed in different locations across the city (at the insistence, from what I understand, of Sebanci University or, most likely, SA itself).  In contrast DIY and Tactical Art shout out in the Biennale from AIDS activism to politic work with archives and social memory.  
> What's odd, however, is that the digital is virtually missing from the Biennale, as if politics and art can't happen in the realm of digitality, art and culture.  Virtually no interactive works, no references to Tactical Media or DIY, which also are deeply resonant with Gonzales-Torres work, and even very little video (no VIDEO AIDS pieces, for instance, in the huge and important section on AIDS inspired artwork).
> So we're left with a very strange paradox: art and politics over here, digital and corporatization over there.  And now the gallery and museum work can claim the politics while the university and the digital conference are tied to the corporate.   As for the problematic question of the global biennial, this one somewhat break the mold, even by questioning the "global" by focus on distinguished geopolitical parameters from Latin and North America and the Middle East and a tad of Africa (Asia just doesn't seem to be on this "global" map.
> Lots of room for thought.
> Best,
> Tim
> Director, Society for the Humanities
> Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
> Professor of Comparative Literature and English
> A. D. White House
> Cornell University
> Ithaca, New York. 14853
> ________________________________________
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Cicero Inacio da Silva [ciceroinaciodasilva at gmail.com]
> Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011 6:13 PM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Layers of ISEA2011: Corporate/Financial
> Wow...it sounds a lot like the kind of "universities of Phoenix" that
> we also have in Brazil...run universities like a business seems a new
> trend in global economy for 3rd world countries....
> Best
> Cicero
> 2011/9/16, Nicholas Knouf <nak44 at cornell.edu>:
>> Hello -empyre-,
>> I'd like to add another layer to the list: the corporate/financial one.
>> I want to write about the experience of entering into the main location
>> for the conference, Sabanci Towers.  This requires being checked off of
>> a list and then traveling through a metal detector with your belongings
>> x-rayed.  You find yourself in front of two gleaming towers of uncountable
>> numbers of floors that reflect
>> the blue sky.  You realize that this is
>> not the university, but rather the headquarters for Sabanci Holding
>> (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sabanci_Group), which
>> appears to be the largest industrial and financial conglomerate in
>> Turkey, while also the organization behind the founding of Sabanci
>> University.  Once you make your way through men and women in perfectly
>> tailored business suits and executives being escorted into Mercedes to be
>> driven to power lunches, you find yourself in front of another metal
>> detector and x-ray machine which may or may not be used (I didn't have
>> to go through it when I entered).  Inside is bland corporate decor not
>> unlike anything else in the globalized world.  Hacker or DIY space this
>> certainly is not, and the internet seems to block anything that doesn't
>> travel on ports 80 or 443 (meaning any local e-mail clients on computers
>> or smartphones won't work; Blackberries won't work; and seemingly only web
>> traffic will go through).  For your
>> 400EURO fee you are still required to pay for pastries.
>> I find the totality of this environment rather problematic for an ostensibly
>> academic
>> and artistic conference and could write much more about it, but will
>> refrain for the moment.  But I did want to describe this for those of
>> you who are not in Istanbul.
>> Best,
>> nick knouf
>> _______________________________________________
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