Illustration: Neda Mamo (fam°)

Perspektif İstanbul

Published in ATÖLYE Insights · 10 min read · March 9, 2022

Looking at the city through fresh perspectives with a program presented by ATÖLYE and Today at Apple

Authors: Emre Erbirer, Gulnaz Or, Melissa Clissold Editor: Oytun Elacmaz

"Istanbul, they call it chaos, we call it home."

We are living in times where everything changes in the blink of an eye. When we come to a new turn, sometimes we forget the point where the road started, so to speak. We realize that we need to pause to learn, be inspired, and create. Any creative knows that in a city where chaos rules, such as Istanbul, inspiration is inexhaustible; yet, chaos can be instrumental in allowing our creativity to be born and expressed in a myriad of ways. This is exactly what Perspektif İstanbul allowed us to do.

With its hands-on session series, Today at Apple and ATÖLYE presented a program that combined technology with creativity and aimed to bring about new perspectives towards the city, whilst celebrating urban culture. Between October 22 - December 5, Perspektif İstanbul invited everyone across Istanbul to come together with an inspiring community, online and in-store at Apple Bağdat Caddesi, and to explore their creativity across various disciplines of art.

Artwork commissioned by Apple to celebrate the opening of Apple Bağdat Caddesi

When we set to work for the program, we aspired to focus on three main themes: fostering creative fluidity, celebrating the city, and using technology for good; all whilst interacting with Istanbul's creative community. Through creative explorations attended by hundreds of people in 13 sessions hosted by 19 artists, we fostered a fresh perspective towards the city we live in, the spaces we occupy, and most importantly, towards one another.

A snapshot from the opening event for Perspektif İstanbul

We determined our themes following extensive interviews with creatives prior to launching the program. During our research, one of our interviewees expressed:

"You need to invest in community building. It is important to activate unusual encounters among creatives to create together."

Our opening panel with some of the creatives that took part in Perspektif İstanbul

Many of the creatives expressed their eagerness to tackle and grapple with contemporary societal and environmental issues, such as climate change, gender equality, and cultural diversity - to name just a few. Following the thread, we embarked on building the framework for the three themes:

Creative Fluidity

In recent years, the lines of creativity between disciplines have truly become ever-more blurred; creators from different disciplines are coming together more often than not to push boundaries further and further.

During the opening of the Apple Bağdat Caddesi, for example, Australian artists Tin & Ed came together with sound designer Oğuz Öner to create an augmented reality exhibition "Speaking Vessel". Tin & Ed incorporated sketches from fourteen Turkish artists to bring to life these vessels through the power of AR, allowing viewers to hear and see the vessels using technology within a physical space. It is indeed the interplay between digital and analog forms that is being explored and opening room for exciting and fluid creative practices.

A photo from Tin & Ed's augmented reality exhibition

Want to experience Speaking Vessels for yourself? All you need to do is download the app here, and head over to the Apple Bağdat Caddesi.

A collective conversation amongst participants in the opening session launched the program. "More Than I Want to Know About I" by Piknik Works allowed participants to share their responses to several questions being asked by drawing and writing on an iPad. Some of the questions asked were:

"If today was the end of the world, what would you share on social media?", "What are three emojis that express your emotions?"

A mural came into being out of this joint conversation; dissent and consensus stood next to one another in a rich tapestry - presenting to any casual observer a collection of the ideas and projections of the participant urbanites.

During the 'More Than I Want to Know About I' session, participants took part in a performative drawing session facilitated by Piknik Works

We enriched Perspektif İstanbul with Esmiyor, a periodic podcast series that covers the climate crisis, as well as Sinan Tuncay who deals with queer arts and gender identities in his works, and Meltem Şahin who ponders on issues such as women's roles and equal opportunity in the field that we refer to as 'phygital.' All of these creators explore these topics through various disciplines and multiple mediums.

In "Animated Monsters" hosted by Meltem Şahin, participants illustrated their own monsters with the exciting prospect to animate them later.

With Sinan Tuncay's "Collage Self-Portraits", participants found a new way to express themselves through static or animated collages whilst exploring the relationship between subject and space.

In Constellation Calligraphy Memed Erdener (aka. Extramücadele) allowed participants to explore how a letter as a design element can be taken out of its own form, come together with other letters, and be turned into an artwork in and of itself through using Procreate on iPad.

We also held an online session with Murat Palta, who had brought together the aesthetics of miniature art and the daily street moments through the visual narrative that he created for the opening of Apple Bağdat Caddesi. During "Miniature New World", participants were taught how to create their own miniatures.

One of the attendees of this session later stated:

"It was through this session that I realized I was quite prejudiced towards miniature art, and I have a newborn appreciation for it."

Palta interprets the city and contemporary issues through the prism of traditional forms such as miniature art. This event showcased how analog methods could be interlaced with digital environments. Among the participants' submissions, many were analog, liberally making use of materials such as clips or staplers, which demonstrated that creativity could emerge from everyday objects as well.

Finally, Gökçe İrten empowered younger attendants to draw their own monsters which were then to be brought together to create a collective book of "monsters". One of our little guests who attended this session said:

"I normally don't like to draw and I consider myself as uncreative, but I had a lot of fun here."

Through using Procreate you too can explore drawing and animating with ease. Why not give it a shot yourself or with your children?

Celebrating the city

The theme "celebrating the city" framed a series of sessions that engaged Istanbul's unique urban fabric and the city experience. Weaved into the city's history, we wanted to celebrate the diversity of urban life by cherishing possible encounters and consecrating the recollections, images, and experiences that surround us. We believe that channeling such small instances into creative expressions is what gives life to such an eclectic "creator culture" in the city.

We wanted to celebrate and honor the city by experiencing it first-hand, which is exactly what Oğuz Öner's "Sounds of the City" realized. Participants were taken on a walk across Bağdat Caddesi to record their surroundings during the walk and turn them into a musical composition through GarageBand on an iPad. The diversity of compositions that came out of this session truly speaks to the vivaciousness of Istanbul. As Öner himself has stated:

"Istanbul really is a vivacious city. It has chaotic places within itself. There are also calm, meditative places. I do not see such a dynamic audio graphic in other cities."

We were also able to explore sounds further with our session "Transform Sounds into Music" with Ah! Kosmos where we were able to create our own songs through our own recordings just by learning a few simple tips.

Why not do this yourself? It's as simple as taking a walk, recording sounds you hear with your phone, and using a tool such as GarageBand to manipulate and add additional sounds and samples.

We were also able to experience the city through the performance session "Art Walk: Encounters" by A Corner in the World. Taken on an art walk composed of short performances in specific public and private spaces around Bağdat Caddesi, the participants brought together technology and performance arts by recording and editing these moments on Clips. With this experience mediated by art and technology, we saw how different our impressions of these everyday places could be.

Check out our video below to experience these sights, sounds, and feelings for yourself!

Tech for Good

Through our theme "Tech for Good," we strove to call out novel practices in technology and the positive social impact they can create. Until recently, "creativity" has been limited to a group of individuals who have had access to the tools or education needed in order to create. Today, technology can help people move beyond such limitations and create, as well as share, to their heart's content.

The etymology of the word "technology", stems from two Greek words, transliterated as techne and logos. Techne means art, skill, craft, or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained. Logos means word, the utterance by which inward thought is expressed, a saying, or an expression. Technology is indeed a way of expressing our art or craft; it seems only right that everybody has access to such technology that can help us develop as individuals - and as society as a whole.

With this definition, technology also becomes the essential tool for us to conceive possible futures and project them in different forms. Architecture for All asked such a question in their session "Utopia Neighborhood".

"How do we use technology to build neighborhoods we want to live in the future?"

In this session, participants explored future urban habitats via Keynote to design dream cities.

There's a lot more that you can do with Keynote than you might think - in addition to creating presentations; you can use it to jot down ideas, build collages, work collaboratively with others, as well as create gifs.

Prepared by the creators of Esmiyor Podcast focusing on the Climate Crisis, "Make a Podcast" session enabled participants to conceptualize and create an introduction to a podcast that they could potentially host one day about an issue they cared about.

And, what will technology look like in the future?

When we asked this question, we noticed that it was timely to tackle the questions regarding how these emerging technologies will be used and how the society can benefit from them. We explored these thorny issues revolving around society and technology with Can Büyükberber's session bridging scientific research with art and design.

Finally, with Nurbanu Asena's session participants were able to also create their own 3D AR sculptures inspired by day-to-day life - it may not be long before we start walking down the street and see life-size AR sculptures appearing by our side.

"Every person is a medium with a unique story to tell. You can't expect them to be only a spectator."

With Perspektif İstanbul, everyone was able to tell their own stories. The different elements and richness of local culture and the story of Bağdat Street were brought to life. Collective memories animated by sensory experiences through the sessions opened up spaces for freedom of expression for the artists and participants (through access to technology) to reflect their fluid practices, and feed on the hybridity of dichotomies such as physical/digital.

A screenshot from one of our online sessions

Perspektif İstanbul also made room for new bonds to be created within creative communities, initiated new dialogues, and most importantly, showed us the beauty of new possibilities and uncertainty as we witnessed the dissolution of barriers in the digital age. It helped us see Istanbul, each other, technology, and creativity through new perspectives, allowing us to become inspired to create and share together, as a community.

Discover more with hashtag #perspektifistanbul! If you choose to try out any of the creative activities above, share your work with us under the same hashtag so we can all join in on the creative conversation.

Finally, check out our website for more creations from the Perspektif İstanbul participants.