Borusan Contemporary, the palatial gallery devoted to digital arts, is presenting two new exhibits by two artists on March 1 at their historic venue, the Perili Köşk, in İstanbul’s Baltalimanı quarter.
Irish artist John Gerrard’s “Exercise” is on view in the special exhibits space and “Common Ground: Earth,” curated by Nazlı Gürlek, includes works from the Borusan Contemporary permanent collection, one of which is New York-based artist Marco Brambilla’s “Megaplex Trilogy.”
“Exercise,” Gerrard’s solo show debut in İstanbul, uses the 3D scanning techniques of motion capture and gaming engines to produce a series of screen portraits. In a press conference at the gallery, Gerrard described the process he uses to produce the moving images, which are distinctly different from film. “These are virtual worlds in real-time,” he explained. “There is no camera or record. With three monitors, we build a scene with real bodies in motion in real places, and capture the image from three different perspectives — from the landscape, from above, and from 360-degrees around the object. This is a technique invented by the American military.” The result is what he calls “simulated reality,” but “the distinction between the simulated model and reality is intersecting.”
The simulations converge the terrain of cinema, sculpture, performance and landscape painting. Within them is the new commission, “Exercise (Dunhuang),” for which Gerrard commissioned an American satellite imaging firm to depth-scan markings of a precise system of roadways the size of a small town in China, designed to be seen from orbit. It shows people 39 workers from a Ghangzhou computer manufacturing plant, still wearing their factory uniforms, walking through the vast road network. The workers’ paths across the grid are calculated by the system, and like the site in which it takes place, it’s a performance that reflects awareness of pervasive systems of technological control. “The main idea is that the actors play a perpetual game, a path-finding algorithm, for which there is no winner. But at the end, there’s a spectacle to celebrate [the event].”
His “Infinite Freedom Exercise” and “Burning Oil Fields” were created near Abadan, Iran and his “Exercise Djibouti” in Africa. “Three sportsmen from London who trained for the Olympics agreed to take part in this sculptural photo for which they ran for three hours on a figure eight track,” Gerrard explained. “But this performance is real-time theatre; that is, it’s software that is thrown away so there is no standing image,” Gerrard explains. “We used 200 cameras which only see points of light. And what do we get? All of their motion, which is beautiful.”
New York-based artist Marco Brambilla’s “Megaplax Trilogy” brings to mind much of what filmgoers have seen in the past 30 years. His three 3D video collages, “Creation (Megaplex)” 2012, “Evolution (Megaplex)” 2010 and “Civilization (Megaplex)” 2008, curated for Borusan Contemporary by Kathleen Forde, include cuts from 400-500 different films. Wearing 3D glasses to view them, we see a complex fantastical scenario of familiar images from Hollywood films that take us through a kaleidoscopic journey, floating through the eye of a giant endless cyclone tunnel, an intra-stellar space odyssey, or Hieronymus Bosch-like infernos.
Forde says Brambilla’s coincidental exhibit alongside Gerrard’s is “a happy scheduling accident. They both are wildly different ways of showing sculptural 3D. But actually, Brambilla is incorporating scenes that go all the way back to ‘Metropolis.’ The themes are heaven and hell and the afterlife, looking at conflict, and creation — the origin of the soul.” The artist has extracted the visual action from the stories and dialogue of mainstream films. All three showing in the same room, albeit to the same soundtrack of a dramatic excerpt from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” constitutes a pulsating visual circus.
“This work relates back to my early work in Hollywood filmmaking and animation,” Bramilla says. “The idea is a tech spectacle, but also how technical effects have affected film entertainment. But the themes are [still] human. [The works] represent the collective consciousness of their era, a kind of pop version of subliminal film memory. I looked through a lot of foreign cinema for some of the more provocative imagery and everything, virtually every genre you can think of is pretty well represented.”
Gerrard, who conferred with Borusan’s chairman of the board, Ahmet Kocabıyık, for his commission, regards İstanbul as “a [digital] frontier, in many senses. Ahmet’s devotion to digital art is surprising, actually, compared to other places in the world. [As a result, this adds to İstanbul's] energetic and ambitious quality. It’s more like early New York.”
Borusan Contemporary’s new exhibitions run through June 1. The Perili Köşk is located on Baltalimanı Hisar Caddesi No. 5 in Sarıyer. For more information, see www.borusancontemporary.com.
Keywords: borusan contemporary , john gerrard