Ali ALISIR ‘Virtual Places’

I was very impressed by the”Virtual Places” exhibition when I saw it in Art On art gallery. It had a background, of course:”Virtual Bodies”…

As beautiful and stunning as the new one… We had to interview him and introduce to you!

And here isAli Alışır after his new exhibition…

First all, would you introduce yourself to us a little bit?

A.A. I was born in 1978. A photograph artist. I won a scholarship from the Yeditepe University Graphics Department in 1996. Both before the school and during my studies at the school, I worked on painting for a long time. Besides, literature, cinema, performances and conceptual art have always been an integral part of my life. After I got education abroad and began to live there, I got to know about digital photography and its techniques. As an effort to correct some of the deficiencies of art scene in Turkey, I work as lecturer at Graphics Department of Yeditepe University Faculty of Fine Arts.

How did you meet photography?

A.A. 8 years ago, I had made a decision to go to Italy as I thought the conditions in Turkey were quite difficult for young artists to earn money and live on. The greatest factor in this decision was that Turkey had no place for young artists in plastic arts. (There were a few monthly art magazines and a few galleries that would be interested in you if you are not that”good”.) This period was also when I was not satisfied with painting. Because I didn’t want to stick to classical methods during the decades when digital technology was developing to make the world witness a very rapid digital evolution. While the digital technology was advancing with photography, I studied on photography in Academia Italiana in Florence. During my studies, I experienced that photography can also be processed digitally just as paintings. I graduated from the school as the first. Of course, the great texture and atmosphere of Italy was reflected on my work at the time. In short, I can say that I discovered a whole new world thanks to my creativity, coming from painting, combined with photography; and I enjoy what I do.

What is your approach to photography?

A.A. If we are talking about arts, photography is not just capturing the moment and eternalizing it. Photography, to me, is an area where I can re-create the moment, the place and the people in a completely different way.

Would that be appropriate to say that Italy was kind of a turning point in your art life?

A.A.Yes, Italy was probably the greatest breaking point in my life. I believe that nothing is actually coincidental in life. I didn’t take the risk and not go there to try many different ways, I don’t think I could be standing where I am now. What you give to life is what you get out of it. The point is the limits of your patience…

In your previous project,”Virtual Bodies”, what was the message you want to express?

A.A.I think that the”reality” was changed necessarily as a result of consumer culture in this century. A”virtual” networking environment has replaced the social relations of people. The real faces of the people gradually began to evolve into the faces belonging to a virtual world. The original and the copy, the real and the appearance have intertwined. On the other hand, surrounding of the body was transformed into an object of investment with mass media.

So sex is not anymore seen only in sex but is seen in many different occasions as well. In the same way, politics is not only in politics now, it spread to all other areas. To the religion, art, philosophy and science… Football has become a little bit politics; art is a little bit magazine, and magazine is a little bit art. While I was building each photo, I tried to reveal the reversed system and its transsexual structure. I mentioned about the fragmented and desperate individual subjected to sexual, political and religious manipulations all the time.

On the other side; now that the society consists of people who look similar to each other, speak, think and wear like people on TV, the individual who seeks for the meaning of his existence has largely disappeared. Therefore, models in the exhibition are transformed into virtual bodies and artificial androgyne identities which have nothing to make people desire them. The cloned bodies and heads come into existence in other individuals. And I created my works in the exhibition as an artistic criticism to this irony which transforms us to cultural and mental copies similar to each other.

And what do you try to express with the”Virtual Places”?

A.A. In”Virtual Places” project exhibited in Contemporary Art Fair which I attended as the artist of Akbank at the end of 2010 and in Art On Gallery as my personal exhibition, my style was kind of the definition of this century.

Today, the concept of place is not just four walls anymore. With the development of Internet and cyber environment, people now can travel anywhere without really moving, have information about various things or meet new people and trade with them. All of these, actually, is possible through the travel of electric charge on a network over electronic circuits. And today, all of us connect to each other by these interfaces and networks. (mobile phones, tablets, computers etc..) Thanks to e-mail, multimedia messaging and social networking sites, we have access to the news, information and each other anywhere in the world. We are talking about a major revolution and change. Information, images and sounds now go around the world without the need for a physical environment. That is literally spatial disintegration. The Renaissance of Technology is happening in a virtual environment.

For this reason, I worked on my”Virtual Places” project by using these interfaces (electronic circuits and chips) on the gloomy structures of the Renaissance and Medieval period. These places seems like they are getting disintegrated when looked from a distance; but when you get closer, they aim to make us understand that each one of them is a body of information. (1-0-1-0 codes on the electronic circuits.)

And today, what makes up a digital photo is ironically not an image anymore, but is a whole of information. We can consider the whole project as an artistic critique of endless image and information exposure on us which surrounds us with digital technology.

All of the photos in the works were taken by me. I photographed significant buildings of almost 20 countries. And then I combined these photos with the photos of electronic circuits and chips that I took in my studio; and this is how these images you see were created.

What is the reason behind you choosing the Renaissance, Baroque and Medieval structures?

A.A. I paid attention to their historical features when choosing these places. My goal was to put the oldest and newest points of the history together. The places whose image I processed turned into”virtual places” where people can travel without physical means.

The figure of Jesus and electronic circuit together. What should this tell us?

AA.I call this period as”the period of images”. It is the criticism to that all of our safe boundaries which we rely upon are rubbed out. From religion to politics, art to economics… The images formed by the visual and written media are based on repetition and this results in forgetfulness rather then creating a memory. While our lives are made transparent with reality shows and newscasts, stacks of images cover what is happening in real life. The period of images throw the messages, historical facts, politics and ideologies coming from the past out of its way…

As in many cases, the figure and ideology of”Jesus” becomes an echo of the past in our day. And the image of Jesus, just like many other things, is not fed from its own source anymore. In this context, I embedded the figure of Jesus in electronic circuits. In a sense, this figure is also the projection of us.We can consider the figure of Jesus as a critique of essential ideologies and belief systems of history disappearing slowly.

What is the most important problem of Ali Alışır with visuality? Why are you creating a new one instead of using the existing ones?

A.A. I regard the photography as a kind of weapon. This is why I chose to express my critiques and forecasts through photography. At any point of history, artists created ideas going ahead of science and technology. These ideas were realized after a while and accepted by society. Thus, our perception of reality today and the suspicion against the visuality is perhaps a warning for the future generations. So we choose creating the visuality freely with our passion and backgrounds.

What is your next project?

A.A. There will be several more project about the”Virtual”. I have already begun working on them.

Ali Alışır is among the artists that we will hear about often in the coming years. He processes and changes the photos of places and models that he captures in studio. Moreover, this process which enables the creation of the designs requires comprehensive usage and knowledge of light and software, making the process very difficult! I’m looking forward to see the new project and Alışır.

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