Mapping and functionality in Bayraktar’s work

Rules (2012) exhibition text, Yagiz Ozgen

Mapping and functionality in Bayraktar's work

“The basic feature of mapping is that an abstract structure of relations embodied in one domain of “objects” can be shown to hold between “objects”.

 Ernest NAGEL / James R. NEWMAN


A helicopter with its propeller in a slow rotation is carried by a model crane. In the animation projected onto the side wall, a wind turbine is seen rotating in a calm manner.  What is it that binds the arrangement and animation in Bayraktar’s work; these two methods that have quite different construction principles?

The basic similarity between installation and animation is not just modeling the objects alluded to in a different way but to render the system of forces that include these modeled structures visible. In other words, the objects in question that appear both in the animation and the sculpture act as expected from an animation and a sculpture. In the animation, the continuity of the wind turbines is shown; the crane lifts the object as it has to; as for the helicopter wreckage, it functions as it should in the installation. Then you may encounter the following question: if objects act as they are expected to, then why are they mapped in different methods? The answer is simple: rather than describing a specific object, modeling shows how this particular object is included in a system of forces.

Rules, 2012, Installation with computer animation, scale models, light and sound, electrical engine, dimensions variable

In this regard, what is in question is to render the relations visible in addition to those connected. In fact, it could be suggested that connections do not exist; rather, there are some points where relations concentrate. The fact that there are similar concentrations in this world does not show that the aim is to describe these objects the way they are; on the contrary, what really matters is to get hold of the system of forces* implicit in them. Contrary to what is seen, this system is totally an abstract universe; the abstract here not being the opposite of the concrete; but it is the ambiguity as opposed to the tangible.  The abstract comes from its mentalness as a result of its schematism with its own rules of construction.

Contrary to a synthesis, schematism leads us to a rule of construction instead of a rule of recognition. In other words: you can imagine a “house” but the word “house” does not evoke the idea of how to construct a house in anyone’s mind.  However, a “line” is not like this. For instance, a “line” is the shortest way from one point to another. In other words, the principle of construction is attached to the definition of a line. A similar thing is in question in Bayraktar’s work as well; everything comes with its own principles of construction. Since the abstract universe constructed by the artist is laden with its own rules of construction, there is no room for uncertainty, absence or estrangement; on the contrary, many things are strangely familiar.

The idea of naming the exhibition “rules” aims at determining the borders of the structure. This does not stem from the fact that the work involves certain rules – whatever is observed, it will still involve certain rules – it is rather because of the reification of the rules; that is, the things attached to the components.

The relations alluded to in the artist’s recent works come to the forefront by the forced connotations that literally work with signs instead of maintaining a representational level. What is meant by “connotation” does not refer to the use of something with its relational meaning.  Rather, it is the condition of making all the forces and principles of its construction visible, by distinguishing them from others; connoting them.

The erection and functioning of these models are in a mandatory relationship with the physical world. However, this is related with both physics and art within the context of interdisciplinarity. To illustrate, while the crane carrying the thing it has to lift, that is the remains of the helicopter, it uses kinetic energy against gravity. This is very similar to a pedestal carrying a sculpture and isolating it from its surroundings. What obviously functions about the sculpture is not a helicopter but what remains from it; the thing whose real function has evolved into the function of an art object. In addition, because of the mandatory relationship between the sculpture and the pedestal, the crane itself acquires a new function as well.  Therefore, things that have lost their function and gained other functions are in question. This new function corresponds to mapping. Here, what is mapped from the artistic plane to the physical or vice versa are not the elements themselves but the structural relations among them.

The same principles of construction could be pointed out in the video by the laws of motion. The fact that wind turbines do not perform what is expected could only be a matter of discussion only when the construct cannot find a counterpart in the phenomenal world. As can be discovered in the video, the wind does not blow in a direction that would enable the wind turbines to generate energy; however, this is not of primary importance. The turbines and the strip oscillating at a close-up work parallel to the system of forces they are subject to. This system of forces is not the reality of the phenomenal world but the video itself. In fact, the signs in this image belong to their own physical conditions more than they look; both the safety belt and the turbines operate in the same environment in accordance with two different parameters. The operation of two separate parameters in a single plane brings us to the essence of modeling. In this regard, there is a system in the video which is similar to laws at work in the sculpture itself; the forces made visible by the sculpture on the basis of gravity are realized by the video on the bases of time and motion – thus direction.

The video also includes a third parameter which demonstrates a relationship similar to that of the helicopter establishes with the crane as its pedestal. This parameter could be inferred from the following relation; the first factor being the gravity which is sublime to the reality of the video itself. Of course, the gravity is of question not in the video but in the physical world. The second element that complements the relation is the pedestal function of the concrete on which the turbine is located. This is not solely due to the demonstration of turbines on a concrete surface which is unusual.  When the depth of field (illusion) is ignored, the horizontals and verticals in the surface composition once again emphasize the relation between a sculpture and its pedestal.

Therefore, it is obvious that Bayraktar has transferred the issue of relationality which he dealt with in his previous works to a quite clear and simple point.  The problem that the artist simplifies is not pushing what the language expresses to the background and making the construction of language itself visible. Beyond doubt, it is not possible to distinguish the structure of language from its function. At this point, Bayraktar’s problem emerges; how could it be possible to construct a system without making an abstraction only; that is, by also taking into consideration the carrier aspect of language?

Yağız Özgen

   April 2012

* Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense


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