Project: Trans.it (2014)

The conceptual basis for this project, ”autopoiesis” as coined by Maturana&Varela, when applied to the social context argues that as closed systems, all beings create their individual realities by interpreting and organizing sensual data stimulated by their environment. Shaped by evolutionary pressures, the sensual apparatus varies for every being as it is fit and adapted for only a specific way of living in the organism’s surrounding. These variations cause different subjective realities for every species out of the shared physical environment and also means that all secondary intentional concepts derived (if can be) from these subjective environments will be different for every species. Parallel to the notion that mind is inseparable from the physical body and its senses; all identity is a product of sensual data stemming from the interplay between objects and subjects situated in these various “realities”. Thus all species create their own narrative of reality, which constitutes their unique identities even in physically identical environments.

While most species do not vary among themselves on subjective realities – or only a little among their sub-species – humans inescapably do. Whereas most organisms don’t possess the necessary cognitive devices to differentiate among themselves in the sense of sensual data and their reaction to outside stimuli, humans given their sense of individuality through a highly developed prefrontal cortex, have unique subjective realities for each and every member of specie. But still, based on the social restrains, there is a limited consensus in the general sense among humans, which superficially defines a mutually agreed upon physical reality.
A good macroscopic example to this chaotic state of differentiating realities within a consensual system is the realm of language. Language can vary on local, even individual degrees both in form and context but still allows informational exchange among large groups of people. As a convergent evolutionary product, language operates on a methodology of creating mutually agreed upon signs. This mutual agreement of signs in turn provides roots for culture to emerge, but also impose barriers between civilizations around the globe. These barriers are not insurmountable however. Although consisting of different signs, all languages try to create a system of identifying the same concepts and consensual objects situated in a shared human sensual reality and thus like alleles on a genome, these sign are subject to selection, invasion and ultimately causes for their contesters’ extinction.

Cultural exchange can therefore be seen as a war between various signs for consensual objects from different subjective cultural realities, with the public space as its battleground. This project aims to analyze how differently perceived and how much mutually agreed or violently contested is the public space by various multicultural agents in Istanbul.

The project is to be conducted with the participation of tourists from various countries and cultures staying at Chill-Out and Hush Hostels in Istanbul. All willing participants are to be given one disposable camera and a notepad sealed in a zip bag. The participants are then to be asked to carry these objects during their stay in Istanbul and take photographs of Turkish words or sentences found all around the city (billboards, slogans, signs, posters, menu items, books etc.) which they find interesting and of which they do not know the meaning. They will also be asked to write down in the provided notepad their interpretation of/or best guess for the word or phrase that the photograph contains. After one week, the zip bags are to be delivered back to the hostel.

With these notes and photographs, I will be producing individual panoramas for every participant in form of illustrations created according to and inspired from the translations found in the corresponding notes. These individual panoramas will express the multicultural diversity of interpretation within Istanbul’s public space.

“Project: Trans.it” was developed as part of a joint workshop between MGSFU and CCA and exhibited in Marmara Cumhuriyet Museum (TR) and will be travelling to U.S in September 2014.

CCA – MGSF

Participatory Project