Image above: Still from ARURA by Ozan Turkkan, 2022. Video installation. Creative Coding. Processing. AI.
Vienna-based new media artist Ozan Turkkan is working at the intersection of art, science and technology. His work is centered on experimental digital media with a focus on generative and algorithmic code art, fractal geometry, mixed reality experiences, interaction, and motion as a reflection of the impermanent nature of existence, and human and social behavior. He uses technology as a canvas to create innovative and engaging digital art installations.
Ozan Turkkan explores the many-folded boundaries between science, art, and new technologies and combines different media elements in a creative process. Before the first steps in digital media, he studied and practiced various art disciplines in Philadelphia, Salamanca, and Barcelona, collaborating with numerous institutions and art centers. After he graduated from The University of Salamanca, he received his Master’s degree in Multimedia at BAU (Escola Superior de Disseny, Universitat Central de Catalunya) in Barcelona, where he lived and worked for many years as a new media artist.
The artist is inspired by geometric patterns, reinterpretation of the aesthetics and beauty of algorithms. Fractal is one of the most difficult terms in geometry to explain. In simple words, it is a figure which repeats the same pattern over and over again. This means that as you get closer to an object, you begin to see it repeating itself endlessly. Although the definition seems conceptually complex, it is a pattern which we encounter every day. Our world demonstrates exceptional mathematical order.
Commenting on the overarching theme of his art practice, Ozan Turkkan says: “Our DNA makes us fractal creatures. We see fractals in zigzag coastlines, leaf shapes, mountain lines, in our nervous system – everywhere. The whole world is the realm of fractals. Order and regularity are everywhere. Perhaps that is why there is a certain serenity in fractal art. Harmony, which exists in spite of disorder, maintains our faith in life.”
.ART talked with Ozan Turkkan about his background, artistic practice, archives as a point of inspiration, role of an artist and discussed the questions of collecting digital art and the significance of .ART being a signifier, creating an ecosystem within the noisy realm of the digital world and helping artists to stand out.
Let’s start with the question regarding your background. How have you started your journey in the art world, in the universe of digital art?
When I was at the university, I was studying design. Back then it was still the beginning of the .COM era, the beginning of websites, etc. Many designers knew how to design for the print, but obviously designing for online is very different. They had to learn programming languages for web design, databases, animations. I was doing the same and really enjoyed it. After university I went to Barcelona, where I started my Master’s degree in Multimedia. Digital reality was becoming bigger and bigger, and I told myself – okay, this is what I’m going to do. It was a perfect combination for me, because I could merge my artistic background and the multimedia one. I was learning a lot of things working on multimedia, such as programming languages, animation, generative art. I started creating art with coding. Everything I was learning from the multimedia-related processes, I was applying to my artistic practice. It was a long journey for me: I was working on both commercial projects and artistic ones. The idea was to finance art via commerce. It took 15 years to fully move to artistic practice, but I really enjoyed this process. I was working with agencies, clients, coming up with diverse collaborations, designing for brands, making animations, editing animations, recording videos. There were a lot of things I was learning and it was a very big input in art. I was one of the first new media artists in Barcelona back then.
How can you formulate the manifesto of your practice?
My research is focused on geometry. More precisely – on fractal geometry. And of course its connection to nature. Throughout the years I was becoming more and more interested in nature: human behavior, our bodies, flora and fauna. Geometry in a dynamic living ecosystem. I always kept my main focus on fractal nature and the generative system which it uses in order to grow itself – creating new things from the things which were already created. Each time it is different. So the generative system and fractal structures are the focal points of my manifesto. I’m learning a lot about nature and the more I learn about it – the more I learn about myself.
Which kind of programs do you use for it? Where do you write codes in order to create new artworks?
Mostly Open Source, creative coding. There are many diverse programming languages, which can be used both by users, artists and developers.
One of the characteristics of your practice is working with archives. Could you comment on it? Where does this specific interest come from?
Some of the archives are related to the theme of nature, but also history is very important for me and being a part of this history. I am offering something new and something from my own perspective, adding value to the archive. I like giving the archives a second life.
Currently you’re focused on archives, which are located in Vienna, but how are you going to extend the geography of your research? Maybe there’s some other archives you are planning to work with, or institutions similar to the one you’re working with now?
Geography of my projects is mainly focused on Europe. Vienna is an obvious choice, as I like to focus on local context and I am based here. I’m planning to make some archival work, connected to the balconies in Barcelona. Architecture is a very special topic for me, as it is also mimicking nature.
Diverse roles in today’s artistic community are being reshaped and re-lived. Artist being a researcher, storyteller is continuously expanding this role. It has to do a lot with evolving and taking over a role of creator of new narratives and grantor of accessibility. Which mission do you envision for yourself and your practice?
All of the above. These key points are very important. I’m not interested in the creation of beautiful images. I am rather looking for a good narrative and, like you say, storytelling, telling a story in a unique way.
At .ART Domains we also tend to say that storytelling is an extremely important point in art, because it’s not just about the object itself, it is really about the story which is around it, but also the story needs to be saved somewhere. And this is exactly where .ART steps in. This is the ideal storage, address for artists, for their practice or individual projects. It’s an archive in itself. You’re using .ART for presenting your artistic and commercial projects. Why do you want to use this extension and what does it signify? Why do you think it will make your projects stand out?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I lived through the .COM era, when it all first started, and saw how it all developed. Now we are at the starting point of the blockchain era, it’s going to be huge. So, every time it’s getting more crowded, there is a lot of noise, especially in the blockchain ecosystem. I think the .ART domain can help to distinguish your area and your practice. It defines your identity, because it’s going to be a lot more noisier in the future.
Do you feel that nowadays more and more people from the art sphere are paying attention to the domain extensions their portfolios/projects/institutions are located on – as it carries additional meaning?
Yes, absolutely. And if we are talking about domain extensions, related to geography, nowadays geography is relatively important, because everything is very global.
Have you noticed that within the last few years collectors began to buy more digital art and museums learned new ways of archiving it?
I remember some years ago people were asking me – how is digital art going to survive? How can you even sell digital art? It’s changed a lot in the last 5-7 years. For me being a new media artist it’s easier to survive, then for an artist working with traditional media, – brands and galleries are asking me for collaborations. And collectors are more interested. Talking about the problems of digital art – archiving is still a problem, maintenance is a problem. That’s why the institutions are delaying the processes of acquiring digital. They need to invest a lot in this area prior to developing it further.
Learn more: www.ozanturkkan.art