“Kentler: Değişen Rotalar Değişen Haritalar”
Article: Merve Aktaş
“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” – Italo Calvino
In this day and age when everything is defeated and devalued by time, when all values including humanitarian values are rapidly consumed, Architects’ Association 1927, whose mission is to defend and uphold the architectural profession and principles, presents UrbanObscura. Marking the Association’s 90th anniversary, UrbanObscura is a project aiming to research, document visually and in writing, archive, preserve or restore the cultural and architectural heritage, and present them in a continual multimedia process accessible to all.
The project’s objective is to make the buildings in several cities more visible by mapping the architectural and sociocultural condition of, and changes in their respective regions through historical land and architectural data records. The buildings are located in several regions, and particularly in Altındağ and Çankaya Municipalities in Ankara and Beyoğlu Municipality in Istanbul, which have been determined as pilot regions. Cenk Gültekin and Irmak Hakman are involved in the software and engineering processes while Can Koçak joins the team in the video documentation process of the project launched by Ayşin Zoe Güneş. The name and logo of the project bear the signature of Tolga Görgün.
“During the demolition and transformation of places and cultural institutions etched in social memory, as well as some apartment buildings and homes, I wondered about the history of these places and spaces, and wanted to reach the related archives,” says Ayşin Zoe Güneş, pointing to the starting point of the project. But she was unable to access sufficient information about the subject during the research she conducted, and observed that a system, which compiled these information together and could monitor the changes in the cities at certain yearly intervals comparatively, did not exist. She then conceived the idea of accessing and analyzing related archives on an interactive platform including a three-dimensional map of the city, laying the foundations of the “UrbanObscura” project.
The objective of “UrbanObscura” is also to offer users easy access to written, visual and audio information and archives through three-dimensional presentations, and thus to provide new resources, discoveries and perspectives to researchers, academics, cultural and creative industry professionals as well as related industries’ professionals. According to these objectives, the project proposes collaboration of different disciplines including digital media, visual and artistic design, history, archeology, anthropology, cultural analysis and research, architectural studies, and social sciences and humanities.
The first major event of the project, which will last minimum five years according to plan, was an exhibition that opened last June in Ankara at Gallery Siyah Beyaz, concurrently with the closing meeting of the Architects’ Association 1927. The exhibition titled “Cities: Changing Routes Changing Maps” presenting the works of 20 people from different disciplines received numerous visitors for nearly a month. The “Cities: Changing Routes Changing Maps” exhibition hosted by Gallery Siyah Beyaz and sponsored by Ersa featured previously created works as well as new works produced specifically for the exhibition by those artists on subjects such as gentrification, changes in maps and routes, sites’ structures and change.
Not only the works featured in the exhibition that aimed to explore how the cities and urban spaces go beyond a context and transform into spatial manifestations of personal experiences, draw personal routes during these explorations, question the space building components of the cities imagined on this journey and map all of these experiences but also the exhibition layout was based on these endeavors. In this manner, the exhibition’s goal was to present much more than content and aimed to offer a journey of discovery accompanied by questions.
The “UrbanObscura” team will next focus on publishing a reference book on “Cities: Changing Routes Changing Maps” exhibition and also covering urban studies, gentrification, and the history of architecture; organizing panel sessions, talks and city tours; and creating a digital library with the data and information obtained to build and archive a collective memory.