Diary of Vardiya 9 – Venice: Surface, Geometry, Texture, Colour

Day 01 – 11th of September, Tuesday
The day started with the best part of being in Venice, we took the vaporetto ride to Arsenale. It was more like a small teaser of what is waiting for us in the narrow streets of this improbable city. Then we reached our office for the week. It was incredibly different than what we saw from the photos. In photos, you can’t see the mysterious movements of the veils or even feel the chilly atmosphere which creates a dawn-like feeling when it is combined with the light blue colour of projections.

The first thing we did was to introduce ourselves to the others, and try to have an idea of their interests, other than the reason why we are all there, architecture. Even though we didn’t know a single thing about what we were going to produce at the end of the week, our tutors didn’t give us any hints. They gave us a mission: to find ‘ornaments’, when we are wandering around the city or The Biennale. It was quite a mission. Some of us didn’t have a previous idea of what to collect and some of us directly went for the thing they had planned already.

We spent a couple of hours in Arsenale before we met at the Pavilion of Turkey for Jolanthe Kugler’s presentation. It was planned as a digital conversation but luckily she came to our pavilion herself. She told us how ornament is more than decoration with a modernist point of view. This helped each one of us to understand what to look for in the streets the next day.

Day 02 – 12th of September, Wednesday

Today, we started the day at Giardini. During our tour in between pavilions, we also continued on recording our “ornaments”. It was a twofold morning session for us. Because we explored not only the pavilions and the content of the exhibitions in the context of Biennale, but also filtered the space and relationships in order to be able to collect “ornaments”. We also analyzed the architectural and urban spaces of Venice to collect “ornaments” in different contexts in these two days.

After the exploring session in Giardini, we arrived at our pavilion in Arsenale and started working on defining “ornament”. We had the visual material that we had gathered both yesterday and today. Each one of us prepared a Pecha Kucha presentation and in a way curated the collected material according to a re-definition of what ornament is. The presentations and discussions were inspiring. We did realize how similar we think and how different we think. Based on some keywords, we redefined the term “ornament” individually, and synthesized new ways of looking into the term “ornament”.

Day 03 – 13th of September, Thursday

On the third day of the workshops, we finished off the last of the Pecha Kucha presentations of the ornaments we had identified in the previous two days at The Biennale.

Following this, physicist Mehmet Erbudak spoke to us about a method used by crystallographers in identifying molecular compositions found in crystals. This involved identifying 17 categories of crystal geometries, which we then applied to the tile patterns of San Marco Cathedral. After a workshop identifying the different categories found in San Marco, each of us chose one of the floor patterns, and using our computers we manipulated the original colours to create a contemporary design.

Day 04 – 14th of September, Friday

We started the day with a brief presentation by Jorg on how to utilize the stamps and the colours. then we proceeded to create our ornaments as Jörg instructed us, only using the stamps and colours he gave us to manifest our creativity.

Our work consisted of three parts. Firstly, we were mostly free on the patterns we used, independent from the fact that we only had triangles as stamps. After the first part Mr. Niederberger did a presentation about his own realized works, and some digital ‘pattern-play’. He explained how he would prefer that the work produced by the Vardiya participants follow a common module: the triangle.

Therefore the second portion of the work was more modulated regarding the creation of the ornament, using only the triangle stamp as the formal reference. We kept on producing consecutively and received critiques. The only rule was to use the triangle stamp, and to ‘think’ the design as little as possible, creating the work as how we felt like creating.

Then arrived the final and third portion, which was the most interesting part. As it required to create a relationship between two entities, it was no longer only instinctive. We selected two works that were previously produced by other participants and used new elaborations to merge these two. At the end of the day we received critiques again.

Day 05 – 15th of September, Saturday

In the morning of the 5th day of the shift, we put the veil down and started to paint our patterns on it. Each of us started from different corners in order to discover the transactions between those patterns. During the painting, visitors were curious about what we were doing and participated in the painting part. Visitors who participated into our workshop, make the process more active. Thus the most crowded day was the 5th day of the shift. At the same time some of us prepared both the videos and the books of 9th shift. At last, we finished the exhibition of the 9th shift and hang the veil back.

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Diary of Vardiya 8 – Of Journeys

5th of September, Wednesday

After consuming every part of Arsenale yesterday we were still hungry for more! Today was the day we were going to conquer Giardini della Biennale and we sure did! Giardini consisted of various National Pavilions (the big name countries) and also a main exhibition. The group had to part ways because the excitement of us couldn’t keep us together anymore. But we came across each other from time to time and admired the work together.

After getting overwhelmed with the works in the dense ‘corridor’ of Arsenale, Giardini offered us a free space to breathe and concentrate in the works pavilion by pavilion. You also get a chance to admire the phenomenal architecture of the pavilions!

Back to Giardini, there were a lot of themes for each country which handled the ‘Free Space’ concept differently. We met at lunch break and discussed our favourite ones so far. Similar with the most of the world, we were moved by the pavilions of the Netherlands, Spain, Uruguay, and Nordic Countries. Our tutors were due to come tomorrow so some of us kept working on their journals to be prepared for the exciting things for tomorrow!

6th of September, Thursday

This day, the tutors of the 8th Shift have arrived. The group met in the pavilion at 11.30 and talked about the journeys of the last 20 days and their logs. Kaan has created a log of objects he chose in his temporary house, and found some relationships between them and his old memories of his permanent house at Antalya. Selin has investigated the notion of procastination as a behavior and its reflections on her and the others’ daily life. Sinem has a journey of her feet, and she has collected patterns she has passed by on various grounds. Eda has worked on the journey of a piece of fabric, and tried to push further its possibilities. Nuray had observed the behavior of her cat and his way of using the furniture in her house. Yağmur Y. experimented on a mobile studio format. Rishab has investigated the color of red in his daily life and in his memories. Arif has observed nature in different scenes in the built environment. Ayaz has observed moments that recall his memories. Yağmur S. produced a tile in ceramic, observed its journey and its adaptation.

Afterwards, the group discussed the concept of journey and how to bring the productions together. Then a digital roundtable session with the architect and academician Aslıhan Şenel was held, which was about critical mapmaking. After the closure of the venue, the group met with Serap, who was a visitor of the pavilion during the day, and had a walking tour of Venice.

7th of September, Friday

The fourth day of the 8th Shift began with the further discussions on the journey logs, to determine the organization of the individual works to produce the installation. The brainstorming had led to a decision to produce the individual works as 3-D representations of the journey logs. By noon, the group decided to apply the individual narratives on the exhibition blocks, and to organize them as an installation in a grid structure.

After lunch, two digital roundtable sessions were held: the first one was with Alkestie Skarlatou about light in architecture, and the second one was with Ferda Kolatan, which questions architecture and the Biennale. The session with Skarlatou highlighted how lighting could be perceived in a much more dynamic and structured way by studying the architectural aspects of the project. Kolatan had a provocative presentation on the concept of the Biennale, for whom does it exist, and why does it exist. He also questioned the disciplinary paradox of architecture, whether if architecture has to maintain its autonomy, or it should dissolve its boundaries to new directions and new needs. These questions stayed in minds for the rest of the day. Discussions continued until late night.

8th of September, Saturday

While the 8th Shift was coming to an end, the day started with a busy schedule in the early morning: after determining the 3-D representations of their journeys, everyone worked on their own piece until noon. Then a meeting was held, the group discussed each of the non-finished works, the workshop schedule, and the exhibition design.

In the afternoon, there had been two digital roundtable sessions: the first guest speaker was the architect and lecturer Bengi Güldoğan. Güldoğan presented her ongoing research project ‘Witness to a Disappearance’, which aims to track the stories about migration and displacement, through objects that belong to her family. The second guest speaker was the artist and filmmaker Köken Ergun. Ergun presented several works of him, which deal with communities that are not known to a greater public and the importance of ritual in such groups.

From the late afternoon until the closure of the venue, everyone continued to work on and discuss the 3-D representations, while a group of four went out to begin documenting the notebooks as journey logs in the city. Some of the group continued to work in their residence until late night.

9th of September, Sunday

Today was the last day of our shift. We were both feeling emotional and hardworking at the same time. After the group discussions in the previous days, the journals were completed to their final state. We were also finalizing our three dimensional elements which would tie the whole ‘journey’ experience together between our journals, Venice, the pavilion and the ‘biennialers’ to experience them! Each of us had their foam rectangular prisms to make it our own to create a collaborative and critical topography where these different narratives would come together as one and create a whole new narrative.

The installation finally began! After our narratives were complete in both 2D and 3D, we split into different groups to finalize different tasks. Installation Group, Journal-Scanning Group, Text Group and Video Editing Group were simultaneously working to complete our To-Do-List!

We placed different narratives according to different parameters as we’ve discussed earlier to start building our topography. Being in the corner space of the pavilion gave us even more ‘Free Space’ for our topography to spread, sprawl and expand! Each of us found their place in the grid matrix layout to create a wholistic journey together.

Since we didn’t want our journey to end after ‘biennialers’ left the pavilion, we added one last touch of postcards which people could take with them to continue the journey of their own. With that our job was complete! Well, we took bunch of photos and videos jumping around in happiness and excitement also, but still, our job was finished! Our shift had its own journey other than us the contributors’ documented journeys. And we could easily say that it was the best journey we’ve had so far. 10 different the most fun people with 3 amazing tutors coming from different places in life had 1 week to create something amazing which felt like a group of people knowing each other the whole time. To many more journeys that we’re pretty much sure we’re going to have together. Venice was just the starting point of that!

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