Neoliberal Art

Neoliberal Art / Ali Alışır 2012

 Ali Alışır “Virtual Places” 2011
In the first quarter of this century, big revolutions; art movements; and ideological and political poles are disappearing. As Marx puts, “all that is solid melts into air.” Disintegration of Soviet Union, China’s transition to post communist economy, and the change of capital city of arts from Paris to New York have influenced the arts circle deeply; and these dramatic changes paved the way to the formation of Neoliberal art. During the second half of 20th century, the claim of art was transformed from ‘changing life’ into ‘being part of the neoliberal world’.
So, what is Neoliberalism and how does it affect arts? First of all, in a Neoliberal system free trade is the case. In a trading system, that has no rules, it is not the case that only social state is refined and privatized. At the same time, privatization brings about disidentification of a traditional and deep-seated social system, unemployment and loss power of in trade unions.  In this era consumerism has started to become more cultural than ever.
Art has started to get strength from this uncontrolled capitalism and witnessed unlimited freedom of hybridity and variety regarding context. Once the essence of the modern world oriented towards branding and advertising, art has started to become an area that artists and artworks with the highest brand value come to the fore; just like the high grossing films. At this point those who greatly contributed to modern art are museum houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s; and, investors like Saatchi, Gagosian and Jopling (White Cube), David Geffen, Steve Cohen, Adam Sender determine the financial status of art market.
Today institutions and galleries took the place of great merchants of 20th century such as, Leo Castelli and Duveen. The biggest change in art investment and marketing compared to last century is the fact that the period of movements (“ism”s) are no longer based for buying and selling works of art.  While in early days social stimulations and universal values (content) were prior reference points to decide to what extent a work of art should be approved (a work of art’s value could be formed by itself within its natural flow or social conjuncture); today, approval of an artwork’s status and finding its value within the history of art are merely reduced to its sale success. At this point it is worth remembering Tobias Mayer’s famous saying, “best art is the most expensive one.”
Is that the case for real? Is it really possible to define an art object’s value just because the artist can sell his works for high prices in his very first exhibition? Or, does a sixty million dollars- empty toile really deserve that artistic value?
Primarily, it is essential to understand the phenomena determining art’s value today.  In our day, the value of an art object is determined according to the gallery that the artist works for and collectors’ structure; rather than the content of the work.  The reason of an art object to be more expensive or less expensive than other works of art, is not related to time spent to create it.  The value of an art object is mainly about how it is related to galleries and art institutions and brandization of the artist.
As art started to be more like an instrument of vanity and show compared to last century, its brand value has become an investment tool. No doubt, wealthy investors have an important role on this. While expensive cars, luxurious yachts and flats become cheap ways of show-off; art, forms an ideal platform of prestige for that stage since money does not have any meaning for the rich. At that level everyone has money, what is important is the capability to buy the prestige and status that modern art object provides. Being able to buy an art work by Rothko (72,8 million dollars) or Jackson Pollock (140 million dollars) makes those people different in their world. This understanding of art reflects an interesting reality of the fact that today modern art history can be written by some buyers.
Obscurity, authenticity, and free production, which are the basic condition of art, were generally used during the obscure periods of history; while today capital is the determinant and directive of several things. For example, when an artist works with a popular gallery, he guarantees his career; and, if a gallery works with a popular artist, this provides prestige to the gallery. This constitutes the basic cycle of the food chain within the art market. On the other hand, the opportunity to exhibit art objects without conflicting with each other by defining their brand values, made art to be more confidential. The ability to take risk, which had been at the essence of art almost since the modern age, has started to vanish in our day.
In order to shine their reputations corporations force artists and art institutions, of which they support exhibitions financially, to make hybrid exhibitions so as to be valuable at the international arena. (There are financial supports of strong companies; galleries and museums behind “New Media” and installations. The productions of Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons can be referred as good examples of this structure).
This close relationship between art and business world indispensably brings the following question, is it still possible to talk about real art in such a state that art completely depends on cultural economy, the market of which is expanding? In a world art that money and relations are intermingled, it is a wonder if modern art and artists were moved to a position that they cannot claim any synthesis or alternative regarding life and future?
Firstly, it is important to accept that the art of 21st century is no longer in a position to get strength from art movements and ideologies. It does not challenge to them either. That is, postmodernism was not only introduced after the termination of modernism’s promises (utopia). It is not even possible to argue that postmodernism was an “introduced” concept. Postmodernism is nothing but a desperate result of the marriage of free market economy, and social culture and art. It is the name for differentness and colorfulness, a brand new hybridity.
Armani exhibition that was organized in Guggenheim museum in 2000 is a very good example of this. Instead of exhibiting the historical processes of Armani collections, Guggenheim, which is one of the most important museums in the world, preferred to exhibit a creation that still has an active sale price in the market. As a result, a fashion house’s exhibition was, maybe for the first time, organized not on podium but at a museum.
Similarly, today the situations of art magazines that allow for these strong brands’ (Armani, Prada etc) advertisements or fashion photographers who take the pictures of those brands; are not different. The facts that fashion works appear at galleries (Steven Meisel, Steven Klein etc), or these works allowed to take part in art catalogues or fairs; indicate how much economy and art are intermingled in this century,.
This interlock between fashion, technology and finance constitutes the basis of today’s art. Finance is no longer about money flow or capital. As a result, art, in this neoliberal system, has become a part of fashion, finance and developing technology.  Now what is important is not the ultimate meaning of a certain art work when we try to understand in front of it; the most important thing is the reason that work is exhibited under that particular brand and its brand range (even in most cases higher prices make the art object more meaningful).
As a consequence, companies try to develop their brand value by using art; and artists try to promote their names under these corporations. The charity policy of business world in 20th century was replaced with partnerships formed with today’s artists or museums.  While the companies’ aim was to branding a certain item and conduct marketing; today this attitude was enlarged with the addition of marketing policy of art to elite class. In order to do this it is required to organize such exhibitions that do not conflict with each other and are less risky. The reason is that exhibited art objects and artists are secured by the brand. In this sense, under the wings of firms marketing certain items, art started to take public to a safer status.
What is more, none of recent developments are new to the history of art; they are results of a certain group’s organization around art circles since 1500. Path-breaking transformations of The House of Medici in Florence first paved the way to Renaissance, and the formation of modern art. This commercial and financial network that was situated by the House of Medici behind all these political and artistic domination is still continuing under the cover of big companies and brands.
Today, art is a reflection of a neoliberal world. As if not only the companies and art environment are institutionalized and branded; but also state policies, culture, and life styles are started to incorporate. The reason is that big profits are no longer earned through individual, traditional style production; but through institutional area, brands, and finance sector. Today, art’s and artist’s role in the modern age, as prosecutor, is over; these relation networks seemed to take the artist in a position as a neoliberal propagandist.
Ali Alışır – 2012
www.alialisir.com
ali@alialisir.com
 
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Genetically Modified Images

Genetically Modified Images / Ali Alışır 2012

Ali Alışır “Virtual Places” 2011
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The structure of modern world, which is based on contradictions and differences, is now collapsing. Evil exists without good, true exists without false; female gets on without male (or vice versa), and power gets on without the opposition. The unfortunate situation of the ‘image’ that was once thought to be the real constituent of photography, is a similar case. Image no longer needs reality to form itself. Just like the case that darkness is no longer needed to create light, formation of photography does not require a real object or topic anymore.  Everything is reproduced on virtual environment, and takes the place of reality. This age has become to be an era, to which virtual images are dominant. Images are created out of nothing.
Formerly, the action of taking picture meant to witness the disappearance of subject and object in a second. Today, on the other hand, we are forced to witness recreation of an image, which does not exist, through computational processing. (I said that ‘we are forced to’ because image, due to its nature, is the mystic aura between subject and object of natural creation; and artificially creating proves that it is longer an image). As a result, the case that image of photography becomes symbol of “something” means that there is no room for an emotion that will be discovered in images and it is not possible to review the image. These reproduced digital -synthetic- images are not themselves anymore.
So, what does the disappearance of image mean? How can we situate photography, of which image is disappearing, within the reality of our lives?
First of all, it is crucial to state that what has become to direct almost our entire life and current events surrounding us is the digital media and its systems. Mobile phones, e-mails, social communication networks are inseparable entities for each of us. (These different and complex network systems can be compared to an unlimited mental system, within which the individual looses himself).  Individual in a certain space is not limited with only four walls anymore. Individuals who are following news flow and latest news from all around the world have started to live under the siege of these digital images. Individuals, who live under the effect of digital world, have started to feed from these systems.
These digital food chains work just like the functioning system of organs in our bodies. Mind follows the coming news and messages, and rapidly digests and consumes it. Digital technology, of which sequence of image is impaired (or destroyed), has such an effect on mind similar to that of rotten food, which has a ruined food chain or is genetically modified, attacking to body in due course. Formerly, while distinguishing real and fake events, there was evidence regarding the relationship between subjects and objects. They were proved by negative images; however, once circuits and integrates took their place, it became possible to create nonexistent images and news. In short, when the thing referring to reality disappeared, human brain became more vulnerable to several foreign attacks.
Manipulated news titles, which are used by written and visual media in order to attract attention; news texts and their images, of which the original news and context were separated (even fake images that war views were modified), look like mal-sequenced genes.
Those news and images (reality) that are constantly in flow, by the time, reach to exaggerated dimensions in mind and start to diminish itself in time. Today this process is so fast that perception and oblivion happen almost at the same time. The ability to comprehend is almost by-passed. It can be argued that within this process political poles, ideologies, and individual values are started to disintegrate (it is ironical, though, all those disintegrated values today continue to exist virtually).  All those ideologies, political poles, and even the idea of art that disintegrate from reality, continue to exist as reflections of the past.
Maybe today the fact that thoughts (political poles and ideologies) are really exist (revolutionary and dictatory) and claim power is not the biggest danger. The major danger is the claim of thoughts, which are disappearing in our age, to continue to exist
This is a very serious claim because democratic illusions were taken to a more dangerous position than real democracies; and cyber and virtual attacks were taken to a more dangerous position than real wars. (All those relations among finance, social and security networks strengthen this idea). Illusion was once nothing but only an illusion, today it turns into a phenomenon more dangerous than reality. This claim reminds the unfortunate situation that happened a while ago to the image constituting photography. Lost political ideas and actions dominated by a virtual and global power are transformed into threats through similar methods; just like the image, which was deprived of pure reality transformed into a weapon.
In this century, is it possible to fight against a thing that is literally disappearing? In this digital and codified life can we still trust to the belief that there is still privacy and power of will and they can actually change something? And, can photography still take us to the unlimited sphere of thoughts without its mystic aura (image)? These are still problematic.
Back to the beginning of the question; today, art; history; economics; and ideological thoughts had all lost their reasons of existence. While the fake got all power of reality it can be said that everyone became actors and audiences at the same in a show that they all know everything and do nothing at all.
Like the image that photography had lost, we are losing the spirit and mystery of what is natural. In this new century, under the influence of transparency, all our lives transform into an effect just like a digital picture.
Ali Alışır – 2012
www.alialisir.com
ali@alialisir.com
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From the “Thinking Man” of the 20th century to “The Watching Man” of the 21st century

 

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places”-2011
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Today, modern society lives on immoderateness and artificiality (Liberalized men, liberalized money and liberated rights). On the other hand, individuals are exposed to more information and images than they can grasp through constant broadcast and publication through television and internet network. As individuals are swamped into the world of images through the closeness and congestion of images, they get disconnected with the objective world. Each news, each catastrophe and each image exposed create a sense of deeper need for the tragic events to be seen. The age of television and internet reflects the image of mankind frozen by moral thoughts and actions.
New media and advancing technology have realized impressions and experiences that could never be anticipated before. Where is freedom in the midst of all this mess? As those sharp lines between reality and fiction, spirituality and material world disappear, our lives turn into an illusion. “Freedom” is somewhere where there is no decision or choice. It has become a part of this huge illusion.
The incident that took place in Germany in 2009 is an example of how the real and the virtual have converged. Tim Kretschmer who was only 17 went into his school with a Bretta gun of 9 mm and shot sixteen people to death. The hing he told his friend the previous night is interesting: “Do not inform the police, I just want to play.” Kretschmer was playing the world-wide famous game called Counter Strike. Feelings of anger, violence and aggression experienced during this incident only made a transition from the virtual world to the real world.   
Considering this incident, it can be said that the social hysteria experienced today is not different from this catastrophe. The important wars that took place in the 21st century such as the Gulf War, the Bomb Attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq and the constant display of the images of people killed in these countries have forced us into a unresponsive position just as if we were in a video game (The audience in front of the television and the soldiers that are made to hit the target by simulators are both insulated against the feeling of pain from the same reality). This complicity with the image has perhaps for the first time in history made moral reaction impossible (Perhaps, virtual reality has set a barrier against the fear of death).
This feeling of infinite freedom (or paralyzation) in the world of virtual reality and images has made us unresponsively watch millions of people getting killed just like Tim Krechmer who killed sixteen innocent people supposing that he was playing a game. The image of people who watch large massacres and wars without any reaction will be one of the most important scenes of the 21st century anthropology (It can be said that “the thinking man” of the 20th century has already been replaced by “the watching man”).
In 345 B.C., Plato defined game as a way of worshipping in his “Laws”. Today, games are part of technology. Technology is sort of an escape from death. In this respect, we can set Oliver Strum’s design called “duamatic” as an example. The The duamatic cabin looks like an automatic booth of passport photograph. When you go into it, you hear a voice that welcomes you: “Good day. Welcome to the praying automate. Now, you can choose one of the prayings that you like. You can also select your religion and sect touching on the screen. When you decide on your praying, touch with your finger and the praying will start.” This automate that operates with money does what the Catholic Church did in the past. In return for a certain amount of donation, the church guaranteed that all the sins of the Catholics would be forgiven and they would go to heaven.
This close relation between death and technology can be associated with the basic tendency of religions to fold down the solid reality of living. Today’s virtual human beings associate coping with worry, boredom and death with taking shelter in technology. Above and beyond this, they have created a religion through which they can realize their fantasy of absolute dominance.
Considering the fact that the new virtual technologies have appeared as an alternative to realities, their current position cannot be underestimated. Even now, the cyber and virtual space have turned into places of transcendence and emancipation from truth and reality.  This feeling of transcendence and marginalization (the feeling of being everywhere every time and the constant desire to show off) has already been a diseased and inseparable part of modern world and civilization.
The erasure of ancient civilizations from the stage of history has taken place not because they were weak but because they tried to be “the ultimate perfect.” Societies that are doomed to be perfect do not think that progress has a specific target. The chain of logic has been broken and the limits of everything have been transgressed. Thoughts that fostered ideologies at one time have now become ordinary at their extreme points and started to devastate themselves.
Today, our problem is that we are not part of a conscious progress but of a social (theological, ideological and political) inflation. Today, social inflation is a reflection of people that have been captivated by unrealized events.
On the other hand, considering that we have handed over the responsibility of deciding, noticing and believing to machines, the only thing we can do is to believe in the existence of these concepts in the midst of the constant production of the aesthetic, image and freedom…
Ali ALIŞIR – 2012
www.alialisir.com
ali@alialisir.com
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Invasion of the Electronic Processors

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” -2011
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We are all transformed into electronic processors that transfer everything to other. In these electronic surfaces realities belonged to us (irony, indefiniteness, perfection, insincerity) were removed, and everything was transformed into such a perfect and flawless effect.
Today our social destiny is determined by media, opinion researches, consumer panels, and news bulletins; without out consents. Under this visual image and news bombardment we are further forced to turn in upon ourselves and we experience instant bursts of energy.
These instant social bursts of energy (the case of instant visibility and sudden graying) can be compared to the condensers that form electronic circuits and store the energy. Condensers, which store energy for the flashgun of cameras, are first charged by the battery and then employed at the moment of shot and the stored high energy is emptied at the very time; as a result, high illumination is provided transiently. Sudden empty of condenser provides brightness to the light of the flash.
Today this is exactly what we experience in our lives along with the effect of communication mediums. Once the news and their images are stored virtually and they start to replace at the speed of light, a huge energy is released. This energy leaves its resources and reaches to the individual in a very short time. This instant illumination that individual experiences, brings about a mental ejaculation. Because this burst of energy is not experienced in a normal timeframe and space, there is no definite true that can be compared or correlated. Time, in the virtual medium is not determined by mind. Rapid increase in resource and number of news and images, and their dazzling repeat transform into a mode of indistinct feeling and unresponsiveness in time. These electronic codes that change place at the speed of light and carry news and images, after a while, give way to the light effect that has a perfume-effect on the individual.
In current day, like the condensers that enable flashes to operate and provide instant bright light, individuals are watching the instant bright illumination of the news and their contents. For individuals, news and images that are deprived of content are nothing but a pile of meaninglessness. This is similar to the feeling that we have when a planet millions of light years away dies and its light reaches to the earth many years later.
Another important feature of condensers is their ability to form temporary solutions, when their sources are empty, for electronic devices that save information in their memories. Condensers in digital clocks and mobile phones step in and empty their energy in order to save important information, when the battery is out; likewise, the system we live in does the same thing for us. Today there are hard discs that enable us to store our memories, and social networking platforms (sites) enabling us to give an opinion.  All these huge cybermatic and virtual networks waste their energies for us and try to make a decision that may be important for us, and solve problems. Because of this, the order of operation of human body and mind is deteriorating and people become unable to fulfill their missions.
The common feature of all these systems that produce image (television, video, multimedia etc) is that they repeat everything. What is produced is not memory, but obliviousness. Intellectual and emotional thoughts of individual are under the siege of electronic images, and they are directed by technology.
Art, which has been in the process of production on intellectual and emotional fields from past to present, was indispensably alienated to the content and meaning, and approached to the image and virtuality. Art’s attempt to transcend itself towards simplicity maybe the last brick that technology holds on.
Artists of the era, form the mode of productions independent from physical activities only through a mental action. On the one hand, work of arts is produced through computer programs, and on the other hand it is distributed via network connections. This process comes to existence in a virtual space with the help of cybermatic tools, and revolutionizes the concept of “unique” work of art that is produced in traditional studio and exhibited in the gallery.
Art was transformed into the speed of mass communication mediums and media aesthetic within the world of Imitations, copies, and fakes. It is now possible to look at the artwork from every angle, enter to it, travel around it, see each side of it at once, and even travel though the image of it. Through these journeys that are taken on the level of molecules for the first time in the history of art, the extant externality and the “mystic” aura of the artwork was destroyed. There is no certain form of art anymore. This is a revolution. The work of art hanging on the wall until today; or a work of art that disseminates its meaning at its original place do not exist anymore. It is both everywhere and nowhere.
With reference to the beginning points, today the life we live in is in a way chaotic, and our technology proves that. The things that we used to defend or criticize are returning to us like a boomerang, they feed our suspiciousness and unresponsiveness just like a vengeance. Technology, which transformed the world into an image, seems to find a way to hide the reality from us. It re-created once unsuccessful ideologies, fossilized concepts, old fashioned thoughts, and meaningless works. It is not the case that the antidotes of revitalization of these dormant thoughts and sicknesses are patience and internalization. The reason is that modern period accelerated all kinds of comprehension-incorporation and generating solutions-producing mechanism; and enabled theses thoughts to circulate through network and electronic circuits. As a result, the necessary time for comprehension-incorporation process was removed and meaning was divided into its atoms on electronic media. Today, all the wars and illnesses of 20th century started to occur again, and as a trophy all our reality and problem solving skills were taken away.
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Ali Alışır – 2012
ali@alialisir.com /   alialisir@hotmail.com

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Attraction of Artificiality

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011
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In the past, painters started from nature while they were designing their work of art. This was how romanticism was technically established.  In their artworks Lorrain, Monet, and Manet produced their master pieces by referring to the nature. This effect continued to be a starting point for modern period painters. While Cezanne was dividing nature into cubic shapes, Picasso was breaking it (and the objective reality) pieces. This was both an opposition against form, and cooperation with nature. Master pieces were created with nature and its light.  If nature and its source light were not in photographers’ lives maybe it would not be possible to talk about modern art at all. While establishing the formation of the modern period, photography and painting were always in cooperation with nature. Both nature and light have always been the raw material of art.
After the modern period and along with the effects of industrial revolution, today’s technological developments created the artificial world as well as the artificial human. In artificial world, the starting point of artworks is not nature anymore; because there is no such nature that should be described. Technological developments made it meaningless.
The understanding of photography in modern period, which was affected by the spirit of natural light, is diminished today. In a world of electricity, nothing remained from natural light.  It is true that photography was once a part of darkness. However, today enlightenment and darkness are turned into tele-images (there are no darkness and mystery hidden behind the photons that can be described).
The digital pictures we take today are neither reflections nor flows of the nature.  Each picture became a codification. In our day, an extraordinary technologic (operational) liveliness took the place of “instant” negative and positive image.
The light, which had constituted photography for 150 years, was eventually free from its camera obscura and started to have appearance on virtual media through electronic circuits. The reality of our real world was curved and a virtual media, in which images are dominant, took its place.
There is no need of nature in the world of images. Therefore, natural is not necessary anymore. There is no “natural instant” in the worlds of people who take pictures and the ones whose photo taken. It is almost impossible to take a picture of the being as itself and have one’s photo taken as himself. Everyone is either happy or looks happy in a certain frame.  This is an extremely unfortunate situation, because an artificial person knows that nothing is natural but he has to act as if everything is natural.
In this century, allured by the things that are not real, we have to witness this similar change between the chemistry of photography and chemistry of humanity. Today we are playing with the attraction of artificially created things, just like we play with images without negatives, which are the biggest invention of the digital world.
Through the attraction of artificiality, we are on the rails of re-awaking and revitalizing (just like the techniques once Egyptian used during the resurrection sessions) all historical events and their representative icons (characters) one by one by using their images. Today, we are meticulously cleaning the archaic stray soundtracks by using flawless digital setting, and we are re-creating images of important leaders and historical events more real through modeling and digital make ups; in a way, we are regenerating the dead.
Maybe the classical understanding of photograph frames and as Susan Sontag puts “participating to other people’s or other things’ mortality, disparity, helplessness, and changeability” are not necessary anymore. Today, photography (technologies) creates the immortality through images and always produces new techniques about the changeability of helplessness.
Art is having its share of this huge change. Similar to the impressionist or expressionist painters who once embraced their own flaws in reaction to the invention of camera, we are trying to create the perfection against artworks that have been produced this date and the charmless nature. We are making towards recreating the world artificially.
While the period of art, from the days of big painters to today; and natural ways of learning and experiencing are coming to an end; we are entering to a production era by interacting with the artificial things.
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Ali Alışır – 2012
ali@alialisir.com /   alialisir@hotmail.com
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The Age Of Hyper Ambiguities

 Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011.
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The age we are living in is constantly trying to get beyond itself through its exaggerated features. Fashion is surpassing itself from beauty to more beauty. Sexuality is heading towards the hyper-sexual. Art is getting more and more superficial. From now on, rather than ideology and modes of production, image and forms of disappearance are dominating our lives. The revolutions done by groups or individuals whose desires and thoughts were repressed are today replaced by speculations. Losing their political power, revolutions are transformed into ambiguous and hollow abstract ideas. Today, the large groups that once poured into streets and their ideologies are carried into a uncertain, unreactive and spaceless (virtual) time.
Technological advancements, the widespread means of communication and the increase in the content of news are blocking our access to correct information and making it impossible for us to draw reliable inferences from any event. All these happenings are now interpreted in many different ways and various meanings are transmitted to us in an ambiguous way. Our suspicions about the reality of ideologies, political thoughts, sexuality and fashion are increasing so fast that we are dragged into an unresponsive and insatiable atmosphere where we are losing our consciousness.
In this age when everything is becoming transparent and even indiscreet secrets are uncovered, the craziness of everything to become visible is culminating in its top point. Private lives, murders, arguments, law cases, etc that are discussed in television programmes, newscasts and reality shows are displayed for all the world to see and nothing hidden has been left. In televisions and radios broadcasting under the name of independent and free media, everybody is talking all at once, and in every programme people are expressing their ideas “freely.” The intermingled images and sounds of these stations that aim to transmit the correct information to the audience are not able to convey anything accurately anymore.
In this era where everybody is informed about everything about which they can do nothing, it can be said that these means of communication have become pornographic. People are outpouring their problems publicly. The same news is repeated in newscasts each time from a different perspective. Magazine and news programmes are only concerned with people’s outlooks. Due to all these facts, the viewers have turned into voyeurs.
This order which is constantly repeating itself is making us lose our consciousness in front of the screen. With its technological structure that always expects to be desired and admired (in social networking sites), this order is dominating our lives through its political, sexual and moral outbursts.
In this new world order shaped by technology, we are both very close and alien to everything in a strange way. While ideas and emotions were previously taken under control at times of oppressions and prohibitions, our feelings are today neutralized being enfevered and then enraptured. While individuals are captured by images in virtual environments, they get rid of their worries. They can do this through surpassing their emotions and personalities. In other words, they turn into meaningless and contextless beings after they struggle until they lose their meanings. Their self is absorbed into nothingness within technological networks.
This “loss of consciousness” and “hyper emancipation” can be associated with the influence of opiate drugs that once encouraged the feeling of total independence among young people. These drugs that were banned in the past since they drove people away from realities are now free for use through the enfevering (or anesthetizing) of feelings through technology.
Today, our dependence on digital technology is a normal part our world rather than being a necessity or addiction. This now means “being addicted” to everything. It means that we will have no world to embrace us once we stop being addicted to economy, news, social environments and so on.
Going back to the beginning, politics, art, sexuality, economy and fashion are strangely dependent on each other in today’s world. They are both familiar and non-alien to us. They are constantly in a struggle to going beyond themselves. While all these concepts are becoming transparent in this hyper ambiguity, their contents and meanings are disappearing.
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Ali Alışır – 2011
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Photography and Images of Political Powers

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011
Today there are such chaos and thought turbulences that cannot be imaged. Opposite concepts and opposite poles are intermingling with each other. The concepts of virtual and reality emerge as two phenomena that have the surprising potential of transforming into each other, rather than being opposites.
The era in which we live in, changes its shell rapidly from reality to virtual and hyper reality; from space to cyberspace; from society and state to cyber culture and cybernetic states.
This rapid change, together with proliferated communication networks and mediatical effect, causes the information and news to appear and disappear swiftly.
In modern period photography, which typically gets strength from a rational reality, completed its transition to the level of computational image. In computational platform meanings of images are changeable (and it is not even required to have “true” or “real” knowledge on the basis). Furthermore, from this point on it will not be possible to compare it to any kind of reality.
Digital image production, in fact, gives us a lot of hints about today’s political structure. This “revitalization”, which is actualized by codified images, enables the reality to reproduce forever.
In this stage of reproduction, processing the computational codes are easier compared to past; because, simply changing the order of a number within the code would be sufficient to affect the entire result. For example, in order to obtain the negative image it is enough to change “1” with “0” within the image.
Today this simple shifting technique for images is commonly used within media to change the real meaning of an image. The meaning of an image is destructed by changing it with the other image next to it (1-0-1-1-0-1). In a way, this means to manipulate the reality.
News contents and their broadcasting are subjected to change in accordance with these codes. The events in television are presented as if they are the same thing with the description of the events (the places of 1 and 0 were shifted). Also, along with the effect of the mass communication mediums, it became possible to reproduce reality artificially.
No doubt, this has become a kind of weapon in the hands of political powers holding the power of mass communication mediums. Political powers are not getting strength from a rational ideology anymore. Competence became a kind of manipulation skill in the hands of political powers. Political structures, which constantly produce pictures through mass communication mediums and ruin images, destroyed the difference between reality and artificial.
Throughout this process the functions of photography such as documenting past and reflecting reality, were dominated by the power of manipulating history and the present day.
These moving and fixed images, which are codified by photography and have almost all features of reality, are reproduced by political powers all the time, like a virus. The original one, on the other hand, lost its power and content and transformed into copies. The connection between history and social memory weakened.
Economy and policy became the parts of this resolution.  Virtual economy took the place of real economy; and new media order took the place politics.
This situation makes it impossible to retrieve what is real. There is no particular model any more that is unknowledged and produces fictional and new images. For this very reason it is not the target of reality at all.
It is no more possible to stop the information flow of the mass communication mediums, which are broadcasting all the time. It is not the case that turning off television or plugging off the computer will annihilate the existence of electricity or network; likewise, today it becomes impossible to reproduce images and remove their manipulative effect on society.
Ali Alışır – 2011
ali@alialisir.com /   alialisir@hotmail.com
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The Cyber Christ Complex

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011
Although we are technologically on the brink of a new enlightenment, technological developments dramatically change our frames of thought. Technology of our time so to say delaminates last few millennia and reveals an utterly different universe; the name of this limitless freedom is, Virtual Reality, which is increasing every passing day. It spreads like a virus in everywhere; just like the times when telephone took the place of telegram, and television took the place of radio.
Psychiatry claims that the first complexity of psychosis is the Christ Complex.  Today’s complex can be a “Cyber Christ.” Cyber Christ is a nickname that I gave for us who live under the siege of electronic image with almost a myth status. Everything and everybody in this land of limitless freedom are definitions of a brand-new emotion that we can be anywhere in any time. Cyber Christ is a projection of us who live in the world that we do not know what future will bring yet; we live in network representations, in which codes and models depend upon fake images, imitations, and copies.
The thought that made Christ an image composed of things he experienced from historical perspective, overlaps with the knowledge of universal humanity; today this thought functions in the same way as technology, which renders desire and joy in a fictional way: Putting experiences in images.
In our day, like many phenomena “Cyber Christ” is becoming some sort of reverberation of the past. As many other things, the image of Christ is not feeding from its own resource, too. We can argue that even though the effect of its recourse continues, the image itself has already stayed distant. In the past it was possible to trace spiritualism, medicine, and optics; in other words, secret track of the unknown through the photographs; however, today through software, sharing, and technology images bring us to a certain point that disallows the unknown. In this world, which was enlightened through the codes that form the world, there is no place that eye does not see in the darkness.
These codes and pictures/images that are continuously produced, every time lead images to create a new ‘now’. As a result, social memory and thought do not benefit from real -historical- events anymore; rather, they benefit from the images of them. Images, in a way substitute the reality itself.
At this point we can think that an optical sub-consciousness is formed in all of us. The ways how we communicate with each other –independent from the physical environments- are provided through the digital processors and networks; so, we can call this as a new level of nature and consciousness. Our optical sub consciousness tends to store the information and electronic waving of this virtual environment, not our normal life.
On the other hand; our historical memory is becoming increasingly indistinct, we are squeezed by the image bombardment, and we constantly live “at present”. On the one hand we bring the strength to neutralize the reality, and on the other hand we cause to deep disappointments.
In effect, this period, as I call ‘the period of images’, is a determination of the fact that all our secure boundaries, which we rigidly rely on, become indistinct.  (From religion to politics; and from art to economy). For instance, in our day visual and printed media are established upon repetition of the images that they produced; this causes to obliviousness rather than creating a memory. While our lives are being made pellucid through the reality shows and newscasts; the bunch of images constantly covers what has been said or done in reality. The period of images kind of throws away the contexts, messages, historical phenomena, politics, and ideologies related to the past…
The “Cyber Christ” complex, which is the first complex of psychosis, overlaps with the point that has lost touch with reality, deprived of the historical consciousness, and human behavior and frame of thought pulsing with strong desire to be in another moment and place. Just like the uniqueness of existence; substances of virtual world are now shapeless and unique.
Referring to the beginning; contrary to what is believed, maybe our aspects and this new life style that we have discovered recently, are not new at all. Maybe we are not discovering the new aspects of our brain, but awakening the most ancient ones. Maybe this technology is a similar way –good or bad- that illusionists and alchemists have been using to reach the potent ‘power’ for centuries. Human being might have lost this information. Yet, today along with the virtual reality everybody lays claim in this area.
Within the system that we live in, charged incorporeal substances contact us through television, video screens, and networks; in to the bargain, with what kind of information will new prophets of the virtual world and their miracles act? How will the complex of “Cyber Christ” shape the new “divine power” under the complexities of information without resources, and the world of images?
Ali Alışır – 2011
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Extremeness of Visuality

Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011
The world of cyber-space that is covered with fantasies and pleasure, subjects us to a physical dissolution in front of reality. In this incorporeal world of subjects, we are interacted with each other; and we live without our own faces by using nicknames and without the need of our physical bodies
Our eyes, which require to be closed in physical world, keep us awake in the virtual media. Screens are never turned off. They always keep producing pictures and images. This window to the world leads to a physical disengagement of listening, feeling, and reacting. While producing the most violent images, it tends to ignore their physical effects.  At a certain moment when viewers confront a real war, which is presented through a video game, they become estranged to their moral reactions. In a way screen transforms into the reality itself.
For this very reason the war of the new world order is fought through images. While images are designed through programs without needing a reality, they are rapidly marketed for consumption via the channel of media. 
This is one of threatening sides of the attempt to make images visible, which has been the aim of art from day one. The simple reason is that images are not representing our lives and environments anymore. Today images are reshaping all aspects of our lives.
At this point, photography lets observation to undertake the mission of seeing, and it lets limitless distribution to undertake the mission of recording. As a result, it was switched to an intricate level based on matrix and models that are incompatible with almost all types of reality.
It is a wonder if this power of manipulation, which is hidden under the bases of the art of photography; and; this extensiveness are possibly saying new things about the evolution of humanity?
In those layers, which were built in our virtual media, we are still unconsciously contributing to this huge metabolism’s circulation and neural system. In this live and breathing structure, millions of users are transforming their physical bodies into network of informatics. The cell structure of bodies are replacing with electronic codes and signals. While in daily life, bodies in front of screens are becoming functionless; our real egos are merely reduced to a functional simplicity.
In this age, the momentum of modern thought is in such a point that our act of perception, interpretation, and internalization, which have continued for ages; are broken with the conceptions of time and space. At this point, along with media’s stronger and faster usage of mass communication mediums, every moment, event, and news were taken apart from their genuine reference points and threw to emptiness.  These information, moments, and events, which are far away from their own reference points, are disappearing within their network connections…
This limitless zone of freedom that cyber space has; atomizes the mosaics of social, cultural, and traditional structures and programs itself to produce “more real” pictures and images than their non-original originals.  Today, in a period that history is short-circuiting, extremeness of visuality loads individuals more information than they can take and captures concepts like democracy. It leads them to break with their contents and lose their transcendent values.
Today efforts of getting rid of this empty simulations and attempts to re-embrace the meanings of nostalgic concepts (freedom, democracy, peace, art, etc) that came back during postmodernism, seem to be doomed to be unsuccessful. The reason is that in order to form history there is no time left for events to be developed independent from media and mass communication mediums.
Ali Alışır – 2010
ali@alialisir.com /   alialisir@hotmail.com
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Renaissance of Art


Ali Alışır – “Virtual Places” – 2011
,
While the world is experiencing the breakup of a new century, we are living in this new era by forming “expressions” a bit of everything. We try to fit our lives in one hour periods even in one minute periods while we are shooting a glance on the news papers, books, magazines; and surfing on internet and answering our mobile phones.
Within this futuristic traffic jam, countries are uniting and splitting almost with the same speed. Happiness, sorrow, and rage are so short-lived. On the one hand the number of art and artist is rapidly increasing; on the other hand the saying, “we live in the most developed age” becomes so hollow and nostalgic…
We are able to learn only a tiny little part of future, no matter how imaginative the artists and science fiction designers are.
For example, it is a mystery if a thousand years later Picasso’s products will still be attractive and artistically valuable? If movies of directors such as Kubrick, still be popular to watch? Or, will it be possible for icons like Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, and Elvis Presley to sustain their popular identities?
 It is worth remembering that only until 20th century, art was based on remembering a “thing” (let alone dreaming). The most important feature of art was to “truly” reflect the most “valuable” thing of a society; and the aim of this reflection and representation was to immortalize it.On the other hand, thanks to the invention of camera, for the first time, the questioning process of “representation” started in the area of art. That is; the procedure to transfer what is seen to the work of art, was not appreciated anymore because camera was perfectly successful to do that. Therefore, the function of artist was the same with the camera.
As a result, maybe the biggest breakup of the history of art took place and art got rid of its heavy body, the obligation to represent. Consequently, the artist had to question and define the concept of art by creating new areas for himself.
The concept of “talent” should also be changed for the artists, if painting what is seen was trivialized. If a tiny little machine was the most talented one regarding imitation, then would an artist become a camera, too?
Along with the invention of photography the period that stimulates impressionism and the well-known “ism” movements were started. One of the pioneers of this attitude was Marcel Duchamp, he said that, “if a machine can do the job of an artist, then artists should abandon this attitude”. He further supported this idea by putting a urinal at the center of an art gallery. As a result, the common thought that “artists should be talented” lost meaning. The fact that technological products are more functional than hand made products, brought about a (hidden) resentment. If human beings cannot produce as perfectly as a machine, then they should embrace and defend their flaws. At this point Manet’s formal carelessness in his art (random brush stroke) and heterodox attitudes towards social morality can be seen as the symptoms of this case. Perhaps this was one of the most important reasons that Duchamp selected urinal as the most offensive object.
Furthermore, the outbreak of the world wars and their devastative atmosphere led artists to cry out the irrationality, meaninglessness, ridiculousness, and contradictoriness of life. Dadaists were trying to avenge upon the machines by painting weird and grotesque machines. On the other hand, pop art artists were sometimes popularizing and sometimes folklorizing the daily life. The doctrine of surrealists was based on the idea that there is another world beyond the one that we live in and it is much more real. Futurists went beyond and argued against traditional forms and institutions; and even supported the idea of war.
At this point modern art transformed into a platform, in which maybe the craziest figures of its history were changing their opinions. Names like Dali, Picasso, Magritte, Chagall, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Warhol, Beuys, and Carl Andre always came to the fore due to their life styles and work of arts.
Until 20th century, interaction of all these formal elements in art and cracking of concepts deep inside brought about the atmosphere loss in the work of art. Along with the technology, considering an artwork within the mass-production process was started to be in question. As a result, a work of art was not required to be in its original place anymore, it was possible to see it in everywhere.
When a work of art in a museum became visible on books, t-shirts, reproductions, and calendar pages; then it was not “unique” anymore, and its message would change (beforehand the artwork was “unique” in its original place, it created an atmosphere -aura- for itself and that atmosphere would affect the meaning of the artwork). On the other hand, once the place was changed its meaning would change too; hence, that artwork would be evaluated differently wherever it was seen. The meaning of La Jokond (Mona Lisa) in a museum was not the same anymore with the meaning in a butcher store. Work of art was leaving the meaning relationship with its first place, and it started to change its meaning in every new place that it showed up.
Modern art was breaking the common traditional patterns; it was refusing the composition and detaching the form from the content. Late in the 1980’s a new spirit of art was emerging Postmodernity. Postmodernists refuted what modernists claimed, the unity of meaning within the work of art, and argued that an artwork does not have a meaning as a whole. Instead of modernists’ “innovative” attitude advocating the idea that humanity will progress; postmodernists claimed that the progress of humanity cannot form step by step, it is not possible to analyze history from a horizontal and developing perspective, it should be analyzed homogenously.
Today this limitless world of creativity, which opened with classical photography a hundred years ago for these naughty children of art, reopens in front of us, the digital photographers. This 140-year adventure that followed impressionism along with the invention of photography; today, witnesses the alliance of digital photography and paint. This is a new formation, which emerges through the combination of drawing with light (photography) and color, drawing with light. In a period that the motto is “everything has already done”, maybe we are entering to a period that this respiratory system and vital points of art are repaired and the circle of art and the mass of community are included.
Renaissance of art…
Ali Alışır
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