In Conversation with Candaş Şişman < MOVEs >
In conversation with Candas Sisman
< Instead of producing logical pieces, I prefer going to the emotional side. That kills the coldness and rigidness of digital creations. My wish is to be able to create, with the use of all mediums, complex structures, which look very simple and pure > he said earlier in an interview.
Candaş Şişman, a leading young new media artist based in Istanbul, counterbalances complexity of life with pure and simple audio-visual abstractions. He aims to construct hybrid emotion fields for unexplored mutual interactions and flowing metamorphosis. It is indeed striking how Sisman gives an affective insight about what Galloway and Thacker (2006) were emphasizing: caring.
While today we are politically and economically discussing about the ways of ‘curing’, ‘caring’ and ‘curating’ data, Sisman’s quest to find alternative means of expression to language creates abd calls for the moves to other possible worlds. He says: < The important thing is our choices. It’s how we combine different possibilities and data we gain >
Flux… Monolithic… Metamorphosis… Edicium… Retory… Isofield… all reflect Sisman’s artistic interventions to everyday processings, in which movement plays a fundamental role. These works catch something that is actually resident in you and perhaps, that’s what makes you enjoy and interact with it sometimes with an uncontainable beam. Something touches you momentarily and flees by creating an existential condition within a given experience in < moves.
Movement is infused with time in Sisman’s works within an algorithmic architecture. In most of his works, we see that organic and aperiodic audio-visual forms become an innovative alternative to the extreme crystalline regularity of what has up to now been considered somehow ‘modern’.
In the early works of Sisman, such as Metamorphosis (2008), movement is generated by the interaction between the motion and the motionless. A timeless image is augmented with various time-affects. That is, a painting is installed by associating with specific sounds and scents.
Sisman calls these works ‘performance paintings’. By activating sensor-motors in brain, in these works, movement is produced by reactivating the memory. In contrast to an artist who completes a work in a public performance, here, the work actually generates and processed within the mutual interaction of the viewer, the sound, the scent and the image.
In these performance paintings, Sisman focused on creating movement by working with neurological conditions such as ‘synesthesia’, a difference in perceptual experience.
Imagine when you see the color red, you begin to taste sweet juicy blackberries, or when you hear a metallic sound of a saw, you start scratching your neck involuntarily. As sensation is a neurological condition, stimulation of one sensory or cognitive trail leads to some automatic, involuntary experiences in a following one.
In an interview with Parikka (2013), Sampson argued that today in contrast to cognitive capitalism ‘‘the emphasis is increasingly on the labor of emotions, affect and experience’’. For Sampson, the relations between virality and non-conscious association are twofold. On one hand, the social is infected at the infra level of brain function by imitation-suggestibility. That is the imitational-suggestion of the work for moves and actions becomes associated with some subjective values to be possessed within that precise moment. Here, various emotions, affects and experiences are put at work – on the self. On the other hand, the viewers are kept too busy, and too distracted, to really grasp that their feelings, beliefs and desires are being steered. This can also be related with subverting the contemporary operations of neoliberal hegemony within an artistic intervention.
Instead of using the binary distinction, inherent in the industrial societies between digital and organic, Metamorphosis contains a mesh of mechanical devices and scanned flesh. As some researchers believe that synesthesia results from “crossed-wiring” in the brain, revealing the nesting of the hardware of various assemblies mixed with the software of body flesh, Sisman invites viewers to realize the counter-similarity between the organic and inorganic entities in today’s ‘’crossed-wiring’’ worlds.
Focusing on the interplay between the organic and the inorganic, in the later years, Sisman was interested in deconstructing the interactions between the actual and the virtual by producing projection-mapping works.
By turning famous historical buildings as well as their related collective memory into a display surface for video projection in Istanbul and Weimar, he worked on deconstructing the familiar by producing moves into another possible worlds through the acquainted.
With Nerdworking, for instance in Monolithic (2010), Sisman worked on the symbolic Haydarpaşa Train Station, which served as an entrance for millions of internal emigrants who became the dynamic actors of Istanbul’s eclectic transformation in the last 50 years.
As a matter of fact, within the festival program of Istanbul European Capital of Culture 2010, I was kind of ready to meet the clichés of Istanbul’s cultural symbols but it was indeed an amusing shock for me to see that in especially one scene, the building was turned into a dance club. I exactly remember that moment in which certain codes and functions associated with this historical building as well as Istanbul’s collective memory was effaced and transformed into another imaginative prospect in my mind. And there was also that uncontainable beam, I was mentioning earlier.
Since one of the most important details in projection mapping are knowing where your audience or camera is going to be and how much they will be moving around, in Monolithic, standing on Kadıköy Harbor, the viewers were not only watching the familiar scene of the sea and the ferries accompanied by the seagulls as well as the crowd coming from the European side this time, but they were also living a surprising change in perception.
During the performance in December, weather was quite bad and the projector was standing on a dock on the sea and it was swinging to sides because of the waves. In order to create a physical movement, first, the natural movement that the wind was creating was controlled. Although most projection mapping projects either deal with a limited amount of camera movement, or some amount of baked-in perspective that doesn’t necessarily match your viewing angle, for Sisman, movement is, once again, found in the moves of emotion and perception in this work.
For instance, it was very interesting for me to see how some of the culture specific elements were innovatively appropriated in Monolithic. Using traditional artistic movements like Ebru (marbling), Hat (calligraphy) and Sufi whirling, Sisman intervened and experimented to transform the regulated mechanical production of these cultural practices and produced other possibilities with a contemporary approach.
For instance by Ebru (marbling), which is a middle age method of aqueous surface design, in which a shallow tray is filled with water, and various kinds of ink or paint colors are carefully applied to the surface, Sisman created movement using the density of different layers of sound and light.
Since Monolithic was constructed as a storyteller, it narrated the cultural and historical density of Istanbul, which has been embracing the 8500 years of sediment layers of Pagans, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Latin Empire, Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic.
Just as in the traditional technique of Ebru, in which a drop of negative color made of plain water and surfactant is used to drive the drop of color into a ring, this process was repeated and appropriated to video projection mapping until the surface covered with the moves of concentric rings and patterns that emerge from the densities of each layer projected on a stable surface.
Reflecting the modernization efforts of The Ottoman Empire, one of the clock towers of the building, which was constructed in 1908 with a neo-renaissance German style, was also turned into a whirling minaret and represented a contemporary interpretation of time in today’s Istanbul.
Neither I am
nor entirely beyond;
but in the flux
of an all-embracing,
monolithic, indivisible moment.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Beyond Time, 1933
< < < ≈
Sisman’s ongoing research about movement, which breeds temporal, affective and sensorial possibilities is present in his experimental video works as well. Whereas movement is more fractural and fragmental in the earlier works, it develops to be more fluid and processual in the later ones. Indeed, we see two different ways of editing in these works.
In fractural and fragmental videos, like Rogx, Retory and Edicium, we discussed that Sisman creates different layers of contrasts by color, sound, pace and volume. The transition between two fragmental scenes is abruptly interrupted with stimulating sounds and images.
For instance, in Rogx, projected in a corridor with an angle of 270 degrees, the viewer was surrounded with extremely fast flowing visuals and sounds that can only be grasped in their oppositional relations with each other.
Besides using different levels of pace, Sisman aims to break the link between motion and movement as well. Instead of generating images and sounds in motion, the interaction of the continuity and the discontinuity of movement engender some abstract images and sounds.
In Retory (2008), Sisman says, the emotional changing process of a concrete and mechanic structure gradually becomes organic and abstract. Despite the ancient conception of movement as a progression of independent and individual units, exemplified by Zeno’s arrow, here, the work embodies a sort of movement capable of considering the production of the new. That is, the mechanic, the digital and the computational are becoming-organic and becoming-natural.
Let me try to put this in other words. In these fragmental videos, the works themselves act as mechanical consciousness in their own right, independent from the consciousness of the viewer. They become somewhat self-explanatory and self-critical. It is precisely the way the frames are edited connects the fragments of scenes and generate dynamic movements.
Actually, the thing is, having studied animation, which is the art of motion, Sisman has been dealing with how to create an illusion of movement from the rapid display of still images that run in sequence in different ways for many years now. To create the illusion of movement within animation studies, an image is repeatedly replaced by a new image that is similar to it, but transformed slightly in time.
Since animation etymologically comes from Latin animātiō, “the act of bringing to life”; from animō (“to animate” or “give life to”) and -ātiō (“the act of”), as a computer animator, Sisman is actually provided limitless opportunities for transformation of data from one modality to another to give life. Sound files can become images or existential conditions can be captured and turned into colors.
In computer animation, it could be useful to consider that the algorithmic architecture of the workflow has more or less a basic structure. Simply put it, the artist creates and specifies the important frames of a sequence by indicating the starting and ending position of an object, then the software smoothly translates the object from the starting point to the ending point. This is called ‘tweening’, in the simple sense. Sisman rearranges the shifting key frames back and forth to improve the timing and dynamics of a movement, or change an ‘in between’ into an additional key frame to further refine the movement.
As timing gives meaning to movement, both physical and emotional meaning, Sisman emphasizes that he displaces the running time with micro-split second interventions.
Since the human eye and its brain interface can process and perceive 10 to 12 separate images per second, in these fractural and fragmental works, for instance, images appear as one stimulus, such as a 10ms green flash of light immediately followed by a 10ms red flash of light perceived as a single yellow flash of light. In this way, persistence of vision may also create an illusion of continuity, allowing a sequence of still images to give the impression of motion. Or, in other cases, inserting a rapid white frame in between two black scenes with a sound effect creates discontinuity so that the monotony of movement is interrupted physically to create different emotions and perceptions.
For instance, in the first scenes of Edicium, by way of the sounds and the images of tapping, scraping and pulling of some kind of wires, cords or strings, you get a feeling of disturbance or even something getting on your nerves. Here, Sisman seems to be dealing with and expressing such a frequently experienced condition of an urban dweller once again.
Becoming-wiring, then on the next scenes, the shifting pace of a moving black dot, the hammering and beating metal kind of sound and the poking and repeating tilt of the camera create continuity of these interferences. Then suddenly, an abrupt cut with a flowing red, a ripping off scene begins. Giving an organic feeling of leaking blood, of life, the flowing scene once again fractured into another fragment by the rapidly shifting images of mechanical parts and organs. By micro-temporal frames of some tissues of different bodies, both digital and biological, Sisman displays the interconnected inner-mechanisms of fast running every day life.
Associating with the movement-image conception of Deleuze (The Brain is the Screen, 366), Edicium traces the circuits of the brain by putting the image in motion, or rather endowing the image with self-motion since “The brain is the screen… Thought is molecular’’.
Micro-temporalities of speed make up such slow beings that we are. Finally, in the last section, returning to an embryonic status and putting the viewer in well-protected plasma of a mother’s womb, Sisman reminds us what Nietzche calls ‘’the metaphysical comfort’’ in The Birth of Tragedy:
<The metaphysical comfort – with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us – that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable – this comfort appears in incarnate clarity in the chorus of the satyrs, a chorus of natural beings who live ineradicably, as it were, behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations. >
As recent neurobiology research (i.e. Daniel Libet and Joseph Ledoux) has proven, on its most primary level, thought is automatic and these molecular automatisms can process information and perform thinking autonomously. Therefore, as opposed to rational modern paradigm, thinking becomes not something we do, but something that happens to us from the outside.
< Something in the world forces us to think >
Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 1968: 139
It is this exact confrontation with this unthought and unexplored, which force us to think and re-think our own thinking, bring about a new image of thought. So, it can be discussed that this encounter with the outside of thought takes place by creating ‘affects’ and ‘percepts’ in Sisman’s works. Especially the continuous flow of images speeding by does not leave us the time for critical distance and contemplation, but acts immediately on a pre-reflexive or a pre-linguistic level of thought.
In these fractural and fragmental works, there is an element of ‘shock-effect’ as well. By abrupt cuts, hypnotizing automatic movements become capable of ‘producing a shock to thought, communicating vibrations to the cortex, touching the nervous and cerebral system directly’ (Deleuze, Cinema II, 156).
This multi-circuit is also activated by a shock, ‘’nooschock’’, in the brain of the viewer by the timing of the interrupting images and sounds, and thus forms various movements.
If we adopt a cinematographical approach, we also see that in contrast to Eisenstein’s conception of shock, for Artaud, nooshock is a purely ‘neuro-physiological vibration’ brought about by the movement and speed of the images. Then from this perspective, one can realize that Sisman’s video works sometimes makes it impossible to think, so that before we can interpret one image or sound, another already replaces it. That is, before we can grasp an image or a sound, it is already trespassed.
The process of association among the meaning, image and sound is constantly interrupted, deconstructed and dislocated in this way and this brings us back to the instant and neuro-physiological shock that the brain/screen connection produces as well.
The linkages between the work and the viewer’s thoughts ‘is the shock wave or the nervous vibration which means we can no longer say ‘I see, I hear”, but I FEEL’. (Deleuze, Cinema II, Image-Temps, 158) Therefore the audio-visual performance of these fractural and fragmental videos somehow reveals our incompetence and this affective confrontation produces such simple and pure emotions, instead of logical thoughts and pieces.
< < < ≈ π
In the later video works of Sisman, such as Flux (2010), we see a more fluid flowing architecture of movement. Generating a processual movement from one frame to another, Sisman works with audio-visual sensory functions that can constantly replace, obliterate and reproduce the given objects as a lineage of becoming.
As Simondon (1989b, p. 23) discusses “a convergence of functions within a structural unity”, in these works, each audio-visual unit starts to develop and functionally related in such a manner that, they work one after the other, sometimes even against each other in each moment.
Flux was dedicated to a famous Turkish sculptor, İlhan Koman. The work was produced for the exhibition ‘İlhan Koman: Hulda Festival, A Journey into Art and Science’. Flux was inspired from the structural features of some of İlhan Koman’s works like Pi, 3D Moebius, Whirlpool and To Infinity. A red circle, which is colored in reference to the red radiators of Ogre, is traced in a morphological transformation, which reinterprets the formal approach of Koman’s works.
In Flux, Koman’s design process in the making of the Pi series has been treated as the emerging of a sphere from a two-dimensional circle by the principle of increasing the surface; and that simple direction is re-interpreted in digital medium.
With the integration of the sounds of various materials – which Koman used in his sculptures – Flux turns into an impressive spatio-temporal experience. Flux, also exemplifies that Koman’s work can be re-interpreted by the analysis and manipulation of form in the digital medium.
The content I expect to see in a work of art
must be part of a chain,
the last link of which is always open
to welcome the newcomer.
Just like concepts of science.
All in all, I would like to be able to make
the art of ‘the enabling link’
whose last loop would be open to new loops.
Ilhan Koman, 1977
In these processual and fluid flowing movement works, Sisman is saying that he is trying to capture the organic folds of time within movement. For instance, emerging from a basic geometric figure, a circle, which is being folded on itself and creating a movement by gaining other dimensions and forms, each figure generates another and modulates itself into another becoming entity in flux.
Perhaps also relating with what Koman once said: ‘’What is, is already decaying’’, rather than a lineer, mechanical progressive movement, we see a generative organism-like movement in Flux.
The object differentiates by repeating itself and generates a morphological transmutation processing. Once again, pulled by different forces to various directions due to attributed responsibilities in our everyday life, being stretched, increase and change our capabilities, and transform into other forms turns out to be an obligation, as Tarde reminds us, ‘to exist is to differ’.
Whereas the object transforms from one instant to another, we also experience the change in object’s time, which reveals a dynamic movement as well. Thus, the result is somewhat hypnotic indeed. As for Bergson, ‘life is a process of overcoming itself’, the immanating acts of an entity reveals a constant transformation. Time accumulates in its flows and life becomes a continuum of that augmentation.
< < < < ‘
Involving in many collaborative projects with different artists, last year in the Ars Electronica Festival, Sisman along with Plato Media Lab, incorporated sound and image as well as music and computer animation in a way that transforms the projection space into a setting for intimate experiences in Deep Space Music (2012).
In this unique performance, Japanese pianist Maki Namekawa played a program of works by three visionary composers who are regarded as great thinkers. Namakewa’s piano concert celebrated the 60th birthday of Ryuchi Sakamoto’s and Philip Glass’ 75th, and commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage.
In order to provide Namekawa with latitude for spontaneous improvisation, they worked live in real time, though, in doing so, they had recourse to a repertoire of prepared graphic elements that are the outcome of an intensive process of encounter with the respective pieces of music. The project offered an immersive experience, which was associated with Namekawa’s abstract notes, place’s atmosphere and enchanted the audience.
Although Sisman generates processual movement by designing sound before image in fluid flowing works, in Deep Space Music, by letting himself into the spontaneous improvisation of another artist, he experimented generating spatio-temporal movements by incorporating the viewers within the work as well.
Creating a comfort zone within the space and time of music scenes, here, the mutual interaction and contagious resonances of a network of digital and biological bodies formed the entire work.
< < < < ~ ∫
Another recent work he Sisman has realized and continue to be working on audio-visual movements was based on graphical phonation. Sisman’s experimentations of merging various forms don’t necessarily imply the mere creation of a pioneering flash but rather the use of the endless possibilities in associating the known and unknown.
Through the unknown, we encounter with a new way of thinking that suggests a new tool of self-expression. Conclusively the graphical notation gives liberate opportunity in creating one’s personal language that holds its basis on feeling the visual and sound in parallel.
Phonation, for Sisman is the presence of sound language in SYN-Phon, where the structure is supported by the synthesis itself. Music in its myriad forms extends to exploit a communicative agent, thereby making the conceptual idea more significant than the actual tool. With regard to this work, he says the presence of music change negative spaces and this is a key element for substitution of the unknown seeking to be expressed.
As a sound performance, SYN-Phon demonstrated some articulations based on Sisman’s intimate findings of Budapest during the month of June, 2013. Buda and Pest in separate geographical allocations hold different quintessence natures, in addition to the anecdote of recent flooding events of Duna. The performance is meant to reach out the audience as a sensual expressive language. The sound performance also included sounds that have been collected, recorded and constructed in Budapest by Sisman himself.
All in all, movement functions not only as a technical but a cerebral agent for recognition and realization of resonances within the micro-temporal spaces of emotion and perception in Sisman’s works. Accompanied by an abruptly dis/appearing wit, his works break out the mechanical monotony of how we perceive life and create hypnotizing as well as stimulating affects. At this point, I should perhaps highlight one of the tempting < moves > articulated by Sisman:
< Quest will never end… >
Candaş Şişman (born in İzmir, 1985) graduated from Eskişehir Anatolian University Animation Department after finishing İzmir Anatolian Fine Arts High School. During his undergraduate studies he took multimedia design education for one year in Netherlands. in 2011 he founded NOHlab studio with Deniz Kader. Since 2006 he has received many awards such as honorary mention from ARS ELECTRONİCA in Computer Animation/ Film /VFX category and Rome Viedram Festival Video and Sound Design best prize. He has participated to many important festivals like Nemo Digital Arts and Film Festival and Offf İstanbul 2012. Candaş Şişman recently realized Monolithic projection mapping with Nerdworking within İstanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture activities and ‘FLUX’ audiovisual installation among İlhan Koman Hulda festival in İstanbul. The artist is represented by Pgart gallery in Turkey.
Ebru Yetiskin (1976) is an art critic and sociologist based in Istanbul. She is working on new media arts and collaborating with new media artists. After completing her high school education in Westchester, NY, she went back to Istanbul and studied Radio-TV-Cinema in Istanbul University. Then she attended the master program on Science, Technology and Society in Université Louis Pasteur in France. She received her PhD degree in sociology in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University by conducting a research in The Center for Sociology of Innovation in Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris. She is a member of International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and has edited a special volume of Toplumbilim on Postcolonial Thought (2010), which is the first edited volume on the subject in Turkey. Currently, she is working on curating two new media art exhibitions, ‘Curves’ and ‘Cacophony’.