Yağmur Yıldırım Mimar / Architect
Organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) with the cosponsporship of ENKA Foundation,Petkim and VitrA, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial opens its doors free of charge for visitors on October 22. Focusing on the relation between “humanity” and “design” under the theme “ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years”, the biennial will continue until November 20. Spreading over a timeframe from 2 seconds to the past 200,000 years, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial hosts over 70 projects of designers, architects, artists, historians, archaeologists, neurologists and scientists from 13 countries to be exhibited in 5 different venues. This year’s exhibition spaces of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial are the Galata Greek Primary School, Studio-X and DEPO in Karaköy, Alt art space in Bomonti and the Istanbul Archaeological Museums where the entrances will be allowed through the musum tickets.Started its journey from the idea of redesigning the “design” concept without hiding behind the “good design” notion in a period where everything is being designed, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial will be organized into four project “clouds”: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life and Designing Time.This year’s curators of the biennial are: the founding director of Media and Modernity program in Princeton University, architectural historian and theoretician, Beatriz Colomina and the Dean Emeritus of Colombia University Faculty of Architecture, architectural historian, theoretician and critic, Mark Wigley. We made an interview with them about the theme and biennial and we especially asked them how they framed “design”, a far-reaching subject. The biennial awaits the visitors to explore the effect of design on the body, life, planet and time.
Theme of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial “ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years”
“Humans have always been radically reshaped by the designs they produce and the world of design keeps expanding. We live in a time “where” everything is designed, from our carefully crafted individual looks and online identities, to the surrounding galaxies of personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures,data, chemicals, organisms, and genetic codes. The average day involves the experience of thousands of layers of design that reach to outer space but also reach deep into our bodies and brains.Design has become the world and it is what makes the human. It is the basis of social life, from the very first artefacts to the exponential expansion of human capability. But design also engineers inequalities and new forms of neglect. More people than ever in history are forcibly displaced by war, lawlessness, poverty, and climate aat the same time “with” that the human genome and the weather are being actively redesigned. We can no longer reassure ourselves with the idea of “good design.” Design needs to be redesigned.”
Carrying out her studies in Princeton University, Beatriz Colomina is an architectural historian and theroetician and the Founding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University. Curated by Colomina, the exhibition entitled Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X has been opened at Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2006 and has travelled to 11 venues worldwide including Documenta 12, London Architectural Association and Canadian Centre of Architecture in Montreal. Her exhibition “Playboy Architecture, 1953-79” has been exhibited at German Architecture Museum (DAM) in 2014 after being opened up at Nai Maastricht in 2012. Radical Pedagogies: Architectural Education in a Time of Disciplinary Instability took its place in the Lisbon Triennale in 2013 and 14th Venice Biennale in 2014. Her studies about architecture and media are translated into over 25 languages and her books include Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies (2014), Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X (2010), Domesticity at War (2007), Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (1994) and Sexuality and Space (1992).
Continuing his studies in New York, the New Zealander architectural historian, theoretician and critic, Mark Wigley is the Dean Emeritus of Columbia University Faculty of Architecture and he is giving lectures in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Department.He has curated several exhibitions at the MoMA and The Drawing Center in New York, the Witte de With in Rotterdam and the CCA in Montreal. He wrote The Architecture of Deconstruction:Derrida’s Haunt (1993), White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture (1995) and Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (1998) and he coedited The Activist Drawing:Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant’s New Babylon to Beyond (2001) with Catherine de Zegher. He was also one of the founders of the Volume magazine. His forthcoming book is entitled Buckminster Fuller Inc.: Architecture in the Age of Radio.
EİGHT İNTERLİNKED PROPOSİTİONS OF THE BİENNİAL DİRECTED AT THE PARTİCİPANTS
1. DESIGN IS ALWAYS DESIGN OF THE HUMAN
2. THE HUMAN IS THE DESIGNING ANIMAL
3. OUR SPECIES IS COMPLETELY SUSPENDED IN ENDLESS LAYERS OF DESIGN
4. DESIGN RADICALLY EXPANDS HUMAN CAPABILITY
5. DESIGN ROUTINELY CONSTRUCTS RADICAL INEQUALITIES
6. DESIGN IS EVEN THE DESIGN OF NEGLECT
7. “GOOD DESIGN” IS AN ANESTHETIC
8. DESIGN WITHOUT ANESTHETIC ASKS URGENT QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR HUMANITY
INTERVIEW WITH BEATRIZ COLOMINA AND MARK WIGLEY, CURATORS OF THE 3RD ISTANBUL DESIGN BIENNIAL
First of all, i would like to start by asking the starting point of the theme “Are We Human?”
Design always presents itself as serving the human as if the human is something stable, known, good. But are we so sure what a human is? And are we so human? Can we feel proud of how we are treating each other, our companion species on the planet, and the planet itself? What if the human is a question mark, and design is the way we engage this question. What if design is always redesigning the human?
Design is a broad subject in every aspect. It embodies philosophical, architectural,historical and artistic orientations. What does the biennial aim to represent within this context through the theme “design” this year?
Design has gone viral, spreading it self through absolutely every dimension of our lives. The typical design biennial celebrating its array of beautiful object s cannot even engage with the tip of the vast iceberg of design. When everyday life, our bodies and brains, have been so thoroughly designed, it s time for a different kind of biennial, a different kind of conversation. And that conversation is the only goal of this biennial. We are gathering together a big group of people from dif ferent disciplines, continent s, and media to launch a new kind of conversation about design. And we think this gathering is urgent but probably it needs a few years of intense exhange to really gather momentum.
In your own words, you stated: “We live in a time where everything is designed: from our meticulously formed personal appearance and digital identity to the personal devices surrounding us, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures, data, chemicals, organisms and genetic codes, everything is being designed. We entirely live in the design itself; just like a spider living inside the web it spinned before with its body secretions. However, unlike the spider, we spinned countless webs that overlap and interact with each other. Even our planet is in a state that is entirely covered with design as a geological layer. There is no external point regarding the design world. Design became the world itself”. As cited in this statement, “design” seems to have taken over everything. While it introduces such a broad subject, what kind of a framedoes this theme form? Seeing design in geological and biological terms means seeing the human species a s a very new thing. Geologically speaking,humans just arrived yesterday, and yet we already seem to anhave designed our own extinction. So immediately the frame for this exhibition is the 200,000 years our species has been here, all the way up to the last two seconds. To understand what design might be in the 21st century, it s crucial to understand the role of design since the very beginning of our species.Only by understanding the intimate relationship between design and human can less super ficial approaches to design be incubated.
Are there any objectives regarding the theme to bring in alternative design opportunities by eluding the main topic,“design”?What are the plans to prevent the theme to be perceived as a statement of the obvious?
Dont you think everyone disagrees about what is “obvious.” Part of the inhumanity that seems to dictate so many of the problems around the world is people thinking cer tain things are obvious and imposing them on those who see things differently.We are teachers and historians. We are devoted to the thought that what seems obvious is actually not so obvious.And isnt that what ar tists do, show us other ways to see things?Also, we teach at schools of design that supposedly lead the conversation.But that doesnt mean those schools know what design is. On thecontrary, they find design mysterious and keep trying to figure it out and thats why they can contribute some beautiful thoughts and things. We think design should be a way of asking questions not a way of solving problems
Normally, biennials focus on the previous two years starting from the day they are held. As for this biennial, it centers on a long period of time from two seconds ago to 200,000 years ago. You are talking about 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years and even 200,000 years.Could you please explain this matter a little further?
200,000 years is the age of our species. 200 years is the timeframe for the concept of design that is dominant everywhere today.It is the product of a conversation that star ted in the early decades of the nineteenth centur y in England. When people talk about design today they echo ideas that were developed to deal with the massive transformations and traumas of industrialization and globalization. And 2 seconds? That’s a valid time frame in social media. Design now happens in 2 seconds with unprecedented levels of interaction between an unprecented number of people. To talk about design today you have to talk about social media and self-design.
How did you form these eight proposals you have introduced to the participants and what did you aim to point out through these eight questions?
We just thought we should write a polemical manifesto with 8 points and invite a wide range of people to respond to those points. The biennial simply presents all the responses and the visitor is invited to see the interconnections between the responses andhopefully invent their own concepts. How many main topics does this biennial embody and how did these topics get categorized? Could you inform us about these categories?
The work is shown in 5 venues around Is tanbul and has been organized into 4 “clouds”: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet,Designing Life and Designing Time. These clusters over lap and the works within them overlap. It s like a forest that you can enter through 4 dif ferent gates. The things nearest the gate seem clearly related to the name on the gate but the deeper you go in the more things relate to the other gates. In the end, you start making your own categories.
What sort of a decision was made regarding the selection of notable people participating in the biennial?
Well there are famous artists, designers, his torians, archeologists and scientists but also many super unknown figures.The main cr iter ia wasn’t famous or not, but non-bor ing. We invited those we think have an ability to open up the question are we human? to new percept ions.And with the open cal l for 2 minute videos we invited anyone to enter and there are 150 or so videos in the biennal f rom around 37 different countries. We also intitiated a collaborative online project with e-f lux cal led SUPERHUMANITYinvit ing50 artists and writers contribut ing 2000 words texts, and that project wi ll be present within the exhibition and also the first layer of research by a large group of Turkish experts from many different disciplines called CURIOUS ASSEMBLY that are doing a huge study of the last 200 years of design in Turkey. So it s a lot of layers but for us its a minimal gather ing to get a conversat ion underway.
As a prior information for our readers, which projectsdo you think will shine outin the biennial?
We have no idea! It would be great if each thing shined for different people. But its true that we are super happy to be bringing the famous transparent man from Dresden back to Turkey for the first time since the 1930s, the incredibale Allah’s Automata from the Islamic renaissance in the 13th century, an extrordinary film on Human Treasure by Tacita Dean, a phenomenonal interactive work by William Forsythe, Thomas Demand’s work on the Fukishima disastor, Diller and Scofidio’s work on blushing, and on and on.
Thank you for all the information.