I thought it was interesting to read about social space in the Slack and Wise Primer after attending the Kutlug Ataman exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery (http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/exhibit_kutlug_ataman.html). The Ataman exhibit had two sides to it; Kuba, a collection of video clips of interviews of people from a small community outside of Istanbul, and Paradise, which involved 24 Californians giving their views on Paradise. The gallery space was actually used to divide the two Ataman projects, so to see one you had to cross physical space to get from one to another. The Kuba side was made to feel dirtier, more used, as the chairs you sat in while you watched them were all old and sort of falling apart, and the televisions were old and dilapidated as well. It was dimly lit. The Paradise exhibit was clean and bright, with plastic cubes to sit on, far more modern and what you would expect in a gallery. After reading about social space, I thought it was interesting how these changes between how the two pieces were presented effectively changed and enhanced the way a person felt about what we were watching. They were both in the same gallery, the same spaces, but the mood and feeling I got from both were completely different, and it added to the entire experience. The gallery had effectively though artificially created two completely different social spaces. The Primer is correct in pointing out that space has meaning put upon it the people using it; I had never thought about it that way.
I felt slightly conflicted by the whole show and the way the space was organized. If I had seen the two shows separately, at different galleries or different times, I would have liked them more. At the Kuba exhibit I saw some very sad stories; these men and women had been affected by brutality and poverty. When I went over to watch the Paradise exhibit, it was difficult to watch the wealthy Californians discuss their ideas about Paradise, their dreams and ideals, after watching the Kuba pieces. I wanted to listen to what the Californians had to say but found it too difficult to take them seriously as their interviews now seemed trivial. I don’t think this was Ataman’s original intention. I think he was genuinely interested in what the Californians had to say, but the outcome of showing the two exhibits at once was the portrayal of the Californians as vapid and shallow. Generally I thought that the manipulation of the two spaces, by making them feel so different, was what made it feel like a cheap comparison. The gallery did not need to rough up the Kuba side, as the people’s stories were powerful enough, and the Paradise exhibit did not need to feel as cold as it was. I like to form my own opinions based on the art itself, and I left feeling a little manipulated.
Overall, I thought these were very thought provoking exhibits and I found myself thinking about them quite a bit. I would highly recommend that people see it.
This position paper discusses the field trip CNET took on February 15th 2008. The trip was to see Kutlag Ataman’s video instillation “Paradise and Kuba.”
The instillation involved two large rooms in the Vancouver Art Gallery. One room was filled with large flat screen TVs with residents of Orange County describing their lives and how they felt about things. The other half of the instillation was a room filled with various older televisions. These televisions had all kind of people from Istanbul telling their own kinds of stories.
I enjoyed the freedom of the exhibit. You could walk around taking in as little or as much as you wanted from each of the screens. If you found something interesting you could sit and have a good listen. If not, just keep walking. This is exactly what I did. I only paid attention to what I thought was interesting from the outside, window shopping for content. I started to walk towards the exit when I thought I had experienced enough.
This is where I started to feel a bit used. I felt like I had been used as a part of the exhibit, used to prove Ataman’s point. Without even thinking about it, I spent most of my time on the Orange County side of the gallery. I guess I stayed there because it was a lot easier to watch than the other side. The TVs were big and clear, there were earphones provided and it was all in English. The Kuba side was a lot different. The room was filled with a loud mash up of what all the TVs were blaring. It made you feel like you were in a room filled with 40 people trying to talk at the same time. The TVs were small and old. No one was speaking English. Without thinking, I had stayed on one side of the art gallery because I was more comfortable and maybe a little less threatened.
I think the message of Ataman’s exhibit was Communication. It is harder to listen when there are 40 people talking at the same time. People’s stories and opinions get lost if the medium doesn’t fit the viewer. I spent all my time taking in the information from the Orange County side because that is where I was most comfortable. I could focus on what was being said because I understood the language being spoken and I could use earphones to drown out any outside noise. The Orange country room also felt more accessible. I felt like I could watch every screen if I wanted. Not the same on the other side, there must have been double the TVs in the “Kuba” area. At a glance I assumed watching each one wouldn’t be possible.
Maybe listening to how Billy Graham got his big break wasn’t as important as what was being said in “Kuba.”
Maybe this is happening everyday.
Maybe important information isn’t getting the airtime it deserves.
Maybe if we read a paper tonight instead of watching “The OC,” we might learn something about the outside world.
As the Spring term careens towards the Reading Break and the halfway mark, we’ve got a few different projects and excursions on deck:
- Friday, February 15th: Kutlag Ataman exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Biography: Kutlug Ataman was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1961. He studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating with a BA in 1985 and an MFA in 1988. In 2004 Ataman was shortlisted for the Turner Prize at the Tate Britain in London, and he participated in the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where he was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Prize for his video installation Küba. The VAG show: Küba will be paired with Paradise – his newly commissioned video installation exploring twenty-four Californians encounters with “paradise”.
- Friday, February 15th: The Glossary Project – Phase 1, the CultureNet students will be posting their first set of entries to this term’s Culture + Technology Glossary. Using the database tool on MOODLE, we are collecting an expanding set of definitions for terms, concepts, acronyms, organizations, etc. linked to the study of techno-society. So if you – like most of us (until recently) – think that a “gnu” is just a wildebeest, then this project will be of interest. In the spirit of collaboration, sharing and soliciting feedback, the entries will be posted here throughout the Spring term.
- Prizes, prizes, prizes: we are also in the process of dreaming up a CultureNet contest to celebrate our first year in action. We are simply undecided as to what form it should take: photos, blogs, video, playlists, essays? And likewise whatever to award to the winner: cash, book tokens, tuition waivers? Got an opinion? Share away.
And with that, on with the week ahead with a pit stop tomorrow afternoon at this week’s OpenText reading featuring Claire Huot and Robert Majzels at 3:30pm in Library 321, Capilano College (North Vancouver BC). Huot and Majzels will present a collaborative, multi-media talk that addresses the reception of classical Chinese poetry in English.