Project: Impact

Batu Bozoglu, Project: Impact exhibition view with the digital platform on the right and the alphabet schematics on the left, 2022, Kasa Gallery

Project Reel for Project:Impact, Batu Bozoglu, 2023

Impact Body Language Schematics, Batu Bozoglu, 2021.


Project: Impact is an ongoing participatory artwork that functions as an interactive and open platform whereby archival or personal testimonies of trauma are collected, remediated and performed. The artwork aims to provide an avenue for these records to be shared via their translation into a traumatic body language, opening them up to a physical and collective experience freed of an adherence to factual expression and conventional rules of communication, while granting full anonymity and encryption of content to its participants.

To accomplish this, the project uses a special language of body movements inspired by the symptoms of motor disfunction and compulsive jerks manifested in shell-shock patients during The Great War, with every move corresponding to a letter of the alphabet. Thanks to this body language, traumas residing in the platform are transformed into performative acts that simulates both the physical impact of trauma and the psychoanalytical components of the traumatic experience, namely its nature to defy conventional expression and integration into its subjects' personal or collective narrative.

IMPACT has two modes of presentation: first a digital and online platform and second as a series of live performances in the exhibition space. For the online experience, I have collaborated with a game developer (Resul Alıcı) to create a 3D environment where human models can be created to function as readers of traumas. These models are loaded with the Impact language that I have outlined above. Visitors to this platform are prompted to join the project by creating a personalized model and giving it a personal trauma to read. The site will inform the visitors that the texts that they are asked to share will not be disclosed to the public and are encrypted upon submission. They will however remain in the website’s 3D environment in the form of body language, as its models repeatedly enact the texts. The live performances work as reading sessions where the artist and willing participants try to mimic a randomly selected digital model’s body language to create a collective and physical experience of the trauma.

Apart from the models created by the participants, the site will only include a single model when first launched, which will be created by the artist and will enact a curated selection of texts from the online archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). This archive consists of reports and personal testimonies of American Missionaries gathered during the fall of The Ottoman Empire and the establishment of The Republic of Turkey. This selection of files is mainly focused on the civilian trauma that was experienced by the public in Anatolia during WWI and the subsequent Turkish War of Independence, with an emphasis on the plight of Christian minorities. The reading of these archives was the basis of the project as it corresponded to a chapter in world history that is heavily disputed to this day, and thus can be defined as a traumatic experience of a collective and international level. The archives, although in public space, contains texts that are tabooed by the national sentiments of the Turkish nation. Its exclusion and alienation from the collective experience and the narrative of the Turkish state are mirrored in the work. Reintroducing these testimonials to the physical and liminal space through this artwork offers an alternative way to reconcile with its contents.

This is work hinges on the remediation of the traumatic memory into a physical and communal activity; it aims to offer a chance to revisit the traumatic past by emulating its impact on the body and mind of its subjects. The language it provides creates a visual representation of the recorded trauma, while the activity it generates proposes a new way to connect with the trauma, simultaneously in mind and body and both as an individual and a collective. This language is neutral and universal, through it any sort of recorded trauma, be it individual or collective, official or anecdotal, personal or historic, can be revisited.

Kasa Galeri, Performistanbul
Participatory Artwork and Digital Platform