With her sculptural works integrated in natural environments, Ayşegül Altunok creates immersive and unexpected sensations. Let’s talk about it with the artist.
Your work is structured through a series of sculptures/installations whithin natural spaces where they seem to represent in a certain way projections of the human existence, and at the same time they have the tendency to pass the limit of this very same experience. Can you tell us how these projects are conceived and how your creative process is developed?
My works are mainly based on scenes I have experienced myself. This is sometimes related to recalling a feeling exaggeratedly in my memory. Mostly I come across a scene and try to freeze the effect I’m feeling there.
This of course turns into a mental struggle. These feelings can appear in unexpected places and unexpected scenes. I think I’m dealing with another version of saving in my memory by taking a picture of a beautiful moment in my head. Creating monuments of feelings and getting them to someone else is the overall scope of my work. I’m putting these sculptural structures into a set of scenes that I’ve drawn, archiving realistic images that I can put into my memory. I don’t know, maybe these will never be constructed in such large sizes and physical conditions or some of them which are lucky will get a chance to be fictionalized in the physical world. But ultimately for me the search process and the process of chasing after a feeling and taking it out of the form pool is the most important and active aspect of the work for now.
In these installations, the geometrical shapes of sculptures are integrated into isolated, almost dreamlike landscapes, modifying the environment in a sort of immersive work. What kind of emotional experience do you try to cause in the audience?
When I think about installations, I usually have a targeted feeling in my head. I’m changing the connection between the work and the place we’re used to as much as possible. Even if it is a place, I know well (an exhibition space or a greenery land), I try to create the own aura of the building. I leave the experimenter against the places that can be entered or not. I want experiencers to come into contact with an experiential space where they are involved in a structure that encompasses it, while experiencing a space that they can enter or that they can fit into. Or if you think of places that can’t be entered, these are mostly sets, structures that have been put in front of them to stop the physical entry. In such structures, the audience is only a witness to the place. But since I don’t want the place to be internal, I resort to this form of fiction. Some of the places are places that we can only watch, like we can’t get into an octopus nest. But watching it silently from afar leaves an imaginative and magical effect. So even if we’re going to expand this place, I can choose not to include the experiencer in it. I pay attention to these kinds of nuances when I’m editing most of my work. It’s actually one of the most important parts of this work, because all this fiction is actually a part of it. I prepare by being interested in triggering some feelings. Impenetrable and narrow spaces, sometimes seen through unsettling holes and hollows.. Sometimes large meditative spaces in which light extends with peace. These are suggestions to which many feelings are referenced.
Your artistic language is characterized by an use of contrasting colors, linear structures and intense lighting. How much the use of new media and innovative technologies represents an important aspect of your work?
I’m always interested in New Media Devices. I turn my sculptural installations into visuals to be archived in a digital environment. I’m also working on establishing these as scenes that can be experienced in virtual reality anytime soon. But it’s still a desire that outweighs for me, for now, to physically present them to the experience. I absolutely care to let you experience the feeling of openness to the physical contact there.
In 2018 you took part together with other artists at the exhibition Young Fresh Different, held at the Ziberman Gallery in Instabul. On that occasion you presented Pink Square, a project where you explore the lines of an architectural element and then you recompose a space/time structure apparently similar, but actually opposite. Can you tell us about this experience and the work you created for it?
The Zilberman Gallery’s exhibition “Young Fresh Different” was a juried competition for artists and I wanted to experience this place as I have participated in many competitions. I’ve never had any connection to this gallery other than that. During your student period to apply the work that you hold as sketches in this kind of environment is either a good or bad experience . This work I exhibited was a continuation of a shell that I had previously broken by doing serial work with linear lights. It’s priceless to see a sculpture of me physically positioned in space at all times. The pink square was a sculpture I built on contrasts. I placed black (as if it were nothing) and Pink in front of it as a tone of every undefined frequency.
The black part also faced a full surface, while the pink square held the gap as the surface within its linear boundaries. The traces resembling the scattered sketch lines were intended to stop its ending with lines that were still searching for its own place and were not finalized.
Which are the artists who inspired you the most during your artistic path or from who you are currently inspired by?
I have to say, many artists have inspired me. I must underline that my biggest inspiration is definitely always nature. Nature has a unique range and offers you a lot once you start watching. There are, of course, too many people who impress me. I admire many painters or sculptors, musicians, and poets. But for me, one of the indispensable sources of inspiration is certainly poets and architects. In particular the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and the French architect Etienne-Louis Boulle.
What are your future plans? Are you working on a particular project?
Among my future plans, my thesis on proficiency in art is currently my most important endeavor. I think it’s very important to leave written products. Therefore, I am in a very rigorous process of working on the publication I will prepare. That’s always exciting. Otherwise, I keep doing my sketches and following things that affect me. Apart from that, I am articulating and going out on many projects. I’ve been working on creating a virtual reality environment recently. I will open up a stage of my own work to the experience in a venue that has been presented to the VR experience. We are doing serious and intensive work on it. I hope to create this project for the experiencers as soon as possible.
Biography: Turkish artist graduated at Marmara University Institute of Fine Arts of Istanbul, she has participated in national and international exhibitions. Her work focuses on the merger of sculpture, installation and design.