Images from the Known Unknown
A Few Thoughts on the Series Micro-Macro Cosmos by Dilay Kocogullarý
That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above, corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.– Hermes-
We see what we know and we know what we see, as our rational notion of the world is mainly formed by the selective perception of our limited visual apparatus. Due to its filter that protects us from a visual overload and neural breakdown, we only receive a small amount of all the data that surrounds us. Nevertheless, we believe in the images that we see, as they are the only visual links to the world that we have. Though, our world view is based on the optic nar- rowing of our eyes, and the images with which we create our reality get formed in a complex perception process by the visual system of the visual cortex. In this part of our brain, every received information merges with memories, thoughts and feelings about our individual history and present state. That is why rational or emotional experiences play an important role in the construction of our reality, and cause the absence of any objectivity or absoluteness regarding the construction of a world view.
So, we have to ask ourselves: What do we really know about our world? How clear can we see, how far can we look, and how deep can we get insight in the fragile construction called reality? Especially today, where the perception of our first reality is intertwined with the mediated second one, reality con- structions depend on a mixture of images of our natural, cultural and media environment. Often, the differences get blurred, so that today it is more important than ever to question the visual data that we constantly receive.This requires a slow and intensive observation of life instead a quick zapping and swallowing of fastfood information, which we are exposed to every second of our fancy postindustrial and hyperaesthetic existence.
In this context, art’s important function of raising awareness and consciousness towards the world becomes obvious, as it emphasises careful, reflective and critical observation. Otherwise, the spectator will never understand the beauty and meaning of life as well as never get an insight in the formal and contentual character of an art work. If you love to think, if you love to observe, you get beyond the known and you understand the being of art! Especially contemporary art formulates an opposition to the fastfood media industry, which pumps us full with shallow images of mainly information that we do not need and yet unquestioned accept. Would we every now and then stop and stare at the world around us instead of hasting from one appointment to another, we might discover beauty and meaning all around us. Such as the young artist Dilay Kocogullarý does. In her latest series Micro- Macro Cosmos she goes on a visual quest for reviewing the micro and macro universe we live in. Disco- vering surprising aesthetic similarities between different objects and incidents, she reveals hidden beauty within the reality that we are exposed to every day, but barely know.That is why Kocogullarý’s series is a good example of a young artist merging esthetic beauty with conceptual strength.
Already during her study of fine arts, she was interested in using the hu- man body as material. This concern began already in her previous study of biology and continues to influence her work until today. Her long and intensive stays in laboratories were the starting point of Micro-Macro Cosmos, where she presents on diptychs always one microscopic image of a human cell structure, and displays next to it a photograph of a similar looking but much larger object like a flower, or a close-up of a tree bark. Although the two enti- ties have different dimensions and refer to different contexts, they show great formal similarity regarding their colour, texture and visual being.At the beginning of each work stands a visual research for finding ele- ments from the micro and macro world that resemble each other.
Then after selecting attractive ima- ges, the artist uses the computer for a postproduction process, in which she slightly adjusts colour tones for getting the visual result she aims at. In the end, Kocogullarý combines the two images on one ground in order to form a visual clash between our micro and macro cosmos. Using images of e.g. brain and bone cells and combining them with objects like oranges and water plants, Dilay Kocogullarý shows aesthetic and formal parallels and coherency bet- ween our inner and outer world. Like in the relation between a mountain and its stones, where you can find the whole structure and being of a mountain in every small stone, Kocogullarý’s series claims that the inner and outer, the micro and macro resemble each other.
The use of the diptych underlines the series’ conceptual character. Due to the bipolar structure of its works, the eyes of the spectator constantly compare the two images of the diptych in order to understand the meaning of the piece. So, Dilay Kocogullarý frees the spectator from his passive receiver position, which he is so used to in his daily media consumption. As his eye is of the work, the brain is nonstop working, permanently shifting between the two sites Indeed, observing her pieces takes time, as on the first look, the meaning of the images is difficult to decode. Looking first abstract, later the real character and sense of the images occur. In the end, the series reveals a subversive harmony that exists between the micro and macro, and brings up the idea that they might not be so different at all. That is why her work, besides consisting of beautiful photos, leads to a discus- sion about the reception of our world. In this way, Dilay Kocogullarý’s series Micro-Macro Cosmos is a good example of how to balance matters of aesthetic and content, and how to open our eyes a bit wider in order to discover the hidden treasures that surround us, and experience surp- rises in a world that is supposed to be accessed and known.
On “Micro - Macro Cosmos”
Marcus Graf: Dear Dilay, as this is your first solo show at a gallery, in order to introduce you in our art scene, I would like to ask you to give a short introduction in the general formal and conceptual issues you are dealing with before we discuss your brand new series that you exhibit at Daire Gallery.Dilay Kocogullarý: It is not possible for me at all to state a certain starting point when art entered into my life. I don’t have a sort of story like I began drawing pictures on the walls when I was a small child. Obviously, it is the result of an internal journey which dates back to an earlier time. Since the time I began to understand and realise myself, art has been in my life, and I have set my mind to receive education in arts somehow. Before majoring in plastic arts at Yeditepe University, I graduated from Osmangazi University,Bio logy department. During the years while I was studying biology, I used to spend most of my time in laboratories. Making works by using microscopic images was a project that I wanted to realise somehow.
Afterwards, while I was studying in plastic arts department, although I had slightly been away from the microscopic images, my works on the body continued. I delved into this matter by means of different disciplines.I shot performance videos, rendered the photographs which I took on canvas using transfer printing techniques and I applied acrylic paint on them. In my videos, I tried to use the female body in different ways. In my first video called Sack, I covered my body with knitted fabric and stuck it in a sack. This cocoon woven by a woman to protect her body narrates the state of women in Turkey and their stuckness. Actually my main concern was about women always leaving a mark somehow, and using the body as a material. I studied this subject in my graduation thesis.
Having worked with video and transfer printing for a while, I found out that actually photography was a more suitable medium for the project I wanted to realise. For a long time, I took close-up photographs of everything I saw. Because, what I wanted to do was to grasp the harmony between what can and cannot be seen with the eye. I began to research this subject. I found out lots of connections and images related to the harmony between that which is big and that which is small in the universe. At this point, by connecting microscopic images I started to discover similarities between many objects that I saw in daily life in terms of shapes and forms in the images.
This proximity I achieved also helped me discover the power of connections between objects and the universe conceptually; or rather, I realised the mystery of things. Micro-Macro Cosmos project proceeded as such.I manipulated the images on PC and prepared these images as dyptychs. In the end, they achieved their present look ready to be exhibited.
M.G: You said that you realized that photography was the medium most appropriate for your artistic projects. Why is this so? What is your fascination with this medium?
D.K: For me, the medium through which I could express the effect of microscopic images was photography. Because, in fact making something that is invisible to the eye visible is again an opportunity technology allows us. Expressing this through painting moves the whole thing to another level and it becomes abstract painting. What is significant in the project I have done is the corresponding image in the universe, which is exactly the same as that image. Apart from these, I was also interested in various media other than painting. Photography enabled me to produce more in shorter amount of time and experiment with new things. I transferred the images, which I took, to computer and I manipulated them although slightly. But I manipulated the images as little as possible; in fact I only changed the colour tones. Because what was important was to reveal the connection between the objects we could see with the eye and microscopic images without being under any effects. Of course finding these was not easy. I had to experiment so many times and collect so many images. Photography enabled me to do these experiments and to discover similarities.
M.G: Where do you find, and how do you select your images?
D.K: While I was examining these images from the Internet or histology books, the first view that attracted me was the similarity between the image of a nebula explosion and a microscopic image. Because it was the miraculous similarity between a really huge image and and a very small image. Then, I had the idea that in fact many images could be rebuilt over these connections.It is a similarity that we are not aware at all, but we ought to realise. In time, I believed that actually this similarity could not be merely a coincidence.It was as if these images were consciously presented to us with these connections. Right at this point, the spiritual aspect of the work steps in.The mystery between a huge thing and a small thing is the biggest proof of it.
M.G: What kind of harmonies did you discover? How would you describe the process of finding, selecting and working with these images?
D.K: In order to add new ones to the microscopic images, which I had been collecting for a long time, I visited many university laboratories and began to collect images again. For me, what was important was not to know which cell the images I found belonged to or what they were, but rather what they looked like in terms of form and shape. In other words, to be more precise, what the images I might take correspond to affected my choices of images. As a matter of fact, if you look at the microscopic image you have got carefully and if you have seen something similar to it then you remember the corresponding image instantly. During the process of discovering these similarities, you begin to see everything around you in a detailed way. A tree bark, a turtle shell, the texture of a table, the image of a crowded group of people from afar. The enjoyable and fullfilling part of it is discovering images, which are similar to them, always looking around with the same purpose, taking photographs of everything and matching them like a puzzle.
M.G: Besides aesthetic or formal parallels between the images, you talk about conceptual parallels that you have discovered. How would you describe these?
D.K: While I was preparing the project Micro-Macro Cosmos, during my researches I came across to a text by Hermes where he says; “That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above, corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.” This sentence impressed me so much. Because there are many scientific facts proving us that in fact, nature and the universe are in harmony.We do not notice them in our daily lives at all. The biggest example of this connection is our own body. If the human body is a macro cosmos, then every single cell that constitutes it, is the micro state of the cosmos. They are all parts of the whole.I tried to notice the reflections of these corresponding codes within the universe, this harmony and wholeness in daily life and reveal them.