Diary of Vardiya 4 – Architecture as Critical Media

10th July Tuesday

The first day started in Arsenale with the introduction of ourselves and a small discussion on what do we expect from Vardiya and what do we think about it. We continued with a little architectural warm-up game where we saw the architectural cliches in our minds.

Before the lunch, we had a small talk with Justin McGuirk on his book, Radical Cities. He presented some critical projects from the book as examples of ‘informal architecture’. We have discussed how can we learn from organic spaces that create themselves and how can it be adapted to formal spaces; what is the role of the architect given the big scale problems and if ‘activist architecture’ can exist/to which scale.

In the afternoon we had two other online calls with SULSOLSAL and Andrew Kovacs. The former started with explaining their ‘critical design’ projects which opened up a fruitful discussion on the ongoing trends like ‘tiny house movement’ or survivalism, and what can the architect do for the possible future cases. Kovacs’ meeting started as a Q&A talk. Using his blog Archive of Affinities as a starting point, we probed questions of digital image culture, architectural appropriation, the latent opportunities of kitsch, and the position of a drawing in an architects body of work.

11th July Wednesday

We met at Giardini in the morning and visited together the Main Pavilion hosting different exhibitions within the theme “freespace” until the lunchtime. During the lunch, we discussed how the architects or the curators conceived and processed the theme “freespace” into their exhibition. The discussion led to the further questioning of the conception of “free space” itself. The questioned we tried to answer include if really there is any free space and possible ways to define it despite its subjectivity.

We spent the rest of the day looking at each country’s presentations, which ranged from bold, minimal statements to extreme content overload. After a long day on our feet, we headed to the OMA-renovated Fondaco dei Tedeschi for some sweet rooftop views.

12th July Thursday

The third day in Vardiya was a full day with four online meetings and discussions upon both Giardini visit and what do we want to produce at the end of our week.

We have started with the continuation of our discussion on the Giardini visit. Then we have the first online meeting with ‘ONAGÖRE’ – Ali Taptık and Okay Karadayılar. They have presented their works mostly concentrating on visual communications and especially DIY Urbanism

‘İmkan/mekan’ and ‘Cevher’. We had a fruitful discussion about how can it be possible to collaborate with the public. The second meeting was with Marco Ferrari from Studio Folder on the edge where architecture touches politics physically on melting Italian borders. In the afternoon, we had another call with Pınar Yoldaş. She presented her work in which she focuses on the ‘human experience’ via a specific medium which she calls ‘Speculative Biology’. With the questions, we have discussed this futuristic, combinatorially ‘free’ area where art – architecture – science learn from each other and turn into real products. Our last call was with Ali Murat Cengiz, who is a musician besides an architect. He explained to us how does he use shape grammars and architecture – two/ three-dimensional physical objects to find another order for a four-dimensional medium which is music.

13th July Friday

On Friday, Cansu Cürgen joined us and we have started by talking about our expressions through the week on the biennial, freespace and vardiya. It was a full day working on our project. We came up with several ideas about what we want to produce and what do we want it to say to the visitors. During the discussions, Nadine helped us a lot about directing our collective thoughts to the more important way and finding the core of our ideas. Afterall, we all agreed on the idea that ‘free space does not exist and only its degrees can be possible within the boundaries. Physically, we realized that the cloth in our reserved area is limiting the space. Thus, we wanted to both free the border by cutting it and the area that it covers. In the end, we cut the cloth from its borders, leaving only the infrastructure of it giving reference to it’s once existence, and we get rid of it as much as possible. We wanted it to be a continuous process of ‘freeing the borders’ and we have turned some of it to souvenir objects which the visitor can take help the cloth to get freed from the biennial area that is a given for her.

14th July Saturday

Today we spent the morning working on our installation and testing our ideas so we could evaluate them as a group. There was some productive disagreement and we deferred decisions until after the afternoon keynote. Jan Boelen, director of Z33 and curator of this year’s Istanbul Design Biennial, gave a presentation about his many spheres of work and the significance of “social design.” The talk led to an interesting Q&A session about the role of students as “symbolic labor” testing societal experiments and the need for a universal basic income. We also discussed the nature of education as an arbitrary bureaucratic framework that can be accepted or ignored. The conversation came back to the notion of “freespace” and whether schools are actually “free.” Jan then critiqued our installation and prompted a spontaneous building session using the blocks around the pavilion. We spent the evening editing our video and finished the day with fireworks at Redentore.

15th July Sunday

We gathered for final conclusions and submit all the works we have produced to the driver. We also worked on the rendering of the film in order to be able to screen it with a proper resolution.

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Digital Critic – Vardiya 4 | Ali Murat Cengiz

Ali Murat Cengiz, architect and pianist, talked about the relationships between architecture and music, and the possibilities of representing architecture through music. He explained how he uses shape grammars and architecture – two/ three-dimensional physical objects to find another order for a four-dimensional medium which is music.

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Digital Critic – Vardiya 4 | Pınar Yoldaş

Pınar Yoldaş presented her work in which she focuses on the ‘human experience’ via a specific medium which she calls ‘Speculative Biology’. With the questions, we have discussed this futuristic, combinatorially ‘free’ area where art, architecture and science learn from each other and turn into real products.

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Digital Critic – Vardiya 4 | Ali Taptık and Okay Karadayılar

The first digital critic of Vardiya 4 has been ‘ONAGÖRE’ – Ali Taptık and Okay Karadayılar, a group based in Istanbul practicing architecture critically. Okay introduced imkan-mekan, which was an initiation of four academics and Karadayılar himself focusing on the needs of the “small-people” in the urban scale. They very briefly mentioned the activities interacting with public of their initiative. Karadayılar stated that they could not implement what they have projected within the scope of their initiative. Later, Ali Taptık presented his works on libraries starting with Atatürk Library project, which he performed one year after the Gezi Park protests.

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Digital Roundtable 9 – Andrew Kovacs

Andrew Kovacs is an architect, critic and educator, currently at UCLA.

Kovacs’ meeting, on the other hand, started as an informal Q&A talk. Using his blog Archive of Affinities as a starting point, we probed questions of digital image culture, architectural appropriation, the latent opportunities of kitsch, and the position of a drawing in an architects body of work.

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Diary of Vardiya 3 – Film Space as Free Space!

26th June Tuesday

First morning after the café, we took the ferry to meet with our tutors where they welcomed us online. Then the conversation was followed by Han&Zeynep Tümertekin, discussing on the concept of the Free Space and how Turkish pavilion refers to it. Afterwards, the bienalle in Arsenale opened its doors to us… observing, touching, smelling, blowing, reading, dreaming, feeling, hating… It was like an experiential funfair made for architects. Exiting funfair, we found ourselves in the narrow streets of the Venice, until we find a space to discuss what our contribution will be to the funfair. The discussion was specifically on how we can combine ideas of the pre-workshop footages with the Venice shots. Hot weather heated our discussion, our brains expanded, all the theories exploded. Then we jumped back to the lagoons of Venice.

 

27th June Wednesday

On our day 2, we had our online meeting with our tutors, spent some time planning the progress of our work and then went to Giardini to finish visiting La Biennale di Venezia. We visited some parts as a group and some parts individually and arranged a meeting in the evening. We kept on discussing and arranged a shooting time. We took our equipment from Redentore and have done some shooting there until the sun went down. We had several useful footage and concluded the day with a nice dinner.

28th June Thursday

Our third day in Venice, we started talking with Ahmet Öğüt. He told us about his works based on our questions and some advices for the biennale. After Ahmet Öğüt session and lunch, we diveded in group of three as shooters, runners and editors. we were permitted to shoot in an interesting building with a spiral staircase so the shooting group spend all of their time shooting different angles. Editing group watched all footages and try to edit all of them in alternative ways. Also one of us try to make visual trick using effects.

29th June Friday

We arrived to the pavilion early in the morning to work and prepare a presentation for our tutors. We began to work also on the physical space along with the film space. We watched all of our footage together to discuss. Our tutors arrived at noon. We spent some time with them and then had two online meetings. The first one was with Ayse Senturer and the second one was with Gul Kacmaz Erk. With both of them, we had very productive and helpful discussions to shape our progress. We watched a couple of movies that Gul Kacmaz Erk presented to us. It was a nice opportunity to compare our ideas and products with other very successful ones. We spent the day working on our movie and our tent. We made some additional shootings to conclude.

30th June Saturday

Today, we shoot for missing parts of our work and at the same time started to edit in saperately. Some of people used the color material and made our tent red. Also drawings and lines play a part our exhibition area. We had to postpone digital round table with Arielle Assouline-Lichten & Caroline James. Finally, we combine all works.

1st July Sunday


In the morning we went to the pavillion and we continued to our project. Some of people continued to constract our tent with our material and some of people continued to edit the film. At 11 am we had a meeting with Özgür Çiçek. It was a very usefull session. After the meeting we work hard and try to finish our work. After checking all of things in our work area, we leaved biennalle for now 🙂

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Digital Critic – Vardiya 3 | Gül Kaçmaz Erk

She have been conducting interdisciplinary research at the intersection of architecture and cinema in the USA, the Netherlands, Turkey, Ireland and the UK since 1994. She studies both architecture and film and creates an understanding about built environment and urban geographies via film making.
In her presentation we saw lots of examples of her previous students and we saw how those student used the cinematic tools to create the feeling of suspense. Which were very valuable for us since our workshop was about creating a Horror B Movie. She also widen our perspective about different elements such as sound, rhythm, narrative and even stop-motion.

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