For me, art is a series of activities made up of research, design, production and presentation. By looking at specific scientific and political phenomena, my aim is to extract and create meaning with broad cultural and anthropological significance. Integrating technology as subject and means of expression, I explore issues that are considered delicate in the public discourse, unlocking them from the rigid political categories in which they reside. Since the beginning of my practice, I have been interested in manifestations of bound- aries–physical, metaphorical, linguistic–that exist around science, nature and politics. I believe that art is the only contemporary venue that can host critical perspectives of an issue in a multilayered, transgressive, sometimes dissonant, yet progressive way.
In an effort to create the most effective presentations, I refuse to settle into an established medium of expression, and instead, move fluidly between various media, including photography, video, and visualization of quantitative information and programmable media. Some of my works appear as museum, gallery or public space installations, and other in screen-based formats, including online works.
Both in content and form, my work is in influenced by critical theory, a thought landscape with which I am consistently engaged. When I began my artistic practice, my work was strongly rooted in post-structuralist perspectives, with a focus on Foucault’s epistemologies, as well as Deleuzian theories as they relate to aesthetics. As my work developed, my influences have expanded to the contemporary media theories of Alexander Galloway and Janet Roitman’s anti-crisis. My most recent work is grounded in Timothy Morton’s rad- ical concepts, which argue that the very idea of nature will take on a new and expanded definition to include a fuller scope of our environment than it currently does.
In 2002, I embarked on my first international project. As a recent graduate in Ankara, living as a young aspiring artist in what I perceived to be a dry, uninspiring city, the reception of the project was an indication that my ideas had a global resonance, and a point of reference outside the geo- political specificities of my work. is modest online project marked the first paradigm shift in my career. e second paradigm shift in my work was my move to the US ve years ago, which enabled me to see beyond a Eurocentric perspective and Middle Eastern patterns, both formally and conceptually.
My move to the US in 2011 marked a turning point in my professional life, and an opportunity to examine subjects I have been interested in through a new lens. e new local dynamics, anonymity and environment offered by the US inspired an additional layer of engagement. Primarily, living in New York has allowed me to develop and integrate the idea of anti-crisis into my work, the notion that subjects, technologies and the contexts in which they exist take on new meaning when explored outside of a crisis narrative. Because I deal with scientific and archaeological frameworks as the basis for my research, my body of work has retained a formal and conceptual consistency despite the changes in the cultural and local contexts in which I produce.
I am a self taught artist. Not having attended art school myself, I have learned a great deal from my own teach- ing in academic institutions in Turkey, Europe and in the US. is pedagogical engagement and interaction with academic communities has helped me stay immersed in various media, yet outside formal disciplines, which enhances my critical lens on both issues and technology.
Atıf Akın, New York, 2016