Digital Arts news everyday, and a full magazine every quarter
Tous les jours, l'actualité des arts numériques, et tous les trois mois, un magazine complet
View My Blog
Send me a message
Lire le dernier numéro
The latest Digitalarti Mag is coming soon in english.
Report at Scopitone festival, digital art & electronic music festival in Nantes, France
rAndom International @ Carpenters Workshop gallery, Paris
Innovations in Paris: Futur en Seine
Capture, by Gregory Chatonsky, presented in Paris
[Interview] Peter Weibel, director of ZKM
Ars Electronica Price 2013 : and the winners are...
[agenda] Nancy celebrates Renaissance
A trap made of light : Isotopes by Nonotak Studio
[exhibition] Digital Africa
[Exhibition] Water Light Graffiti @ Stereolux
[Festival] Parizone@dream 2013
[interview] GRÉGORY CHATONSKY image and flow…
[Interview] Robert Henke, Vanishing Lines
[Feedback] SOUND ART @ ZKM, MAC & 104
More blog entries
For a few years now, Deniz Kurtel has been renowned for her interactive sculptures and, above all, her light installations. Based on LEDs run by computers and combined to mirrors and various materials, her creations sometimes look like metal spiders or psychedelic labyrinths.
Thanks to her interweaved and shinny works, in particular, she was honoured by the Communikey Festival of Electronic Arts in 2008. However, paradoxically, Deniz Kurtel remained in the shadow! Despite numerous stage performances as part of the electronica scene, thanks to the Wolf + Lamb duo. A scene that has enabled her to explore further modalities for her installations that shift to another dimension and another function in this context. She is also a musician. Her first album, Music Watch Over Me, has just been released by Crosstown Rebels, which should get her better known by a larger audience. Outside of these A/V performances, Deniz Kurtel has also been in demand as a designer, a visual artist, for temporary or permanent installations in hotels (the Mancy Hotel in Brooklyn) or prestigious shops (Lucy In Disguise). Interview.
To start with, please tell us about your story …
I was born in Izmir, Turkey and lived there till I finished high school. Then I moved to the US and went to college in Washington DC and moved to NY for graduate school. I was living in Brooklyn until a few months ago but now I just got a new place in Berlin that I'm going to use as a base while I'm touring in Europe and also as a studio for both my music and art production, and as a showroom/ personal gallery space. I'm pretty much doing art and music full time now.
You are well known for your interactive sculptures. What circumstances brought you to this art practice…?
In 2005, when I went to Burning Man for the first time, my friend Zev bought some LEDs to do a project out there but later he lost interest and gave them to me, as I was getting more and more interested in them, making installations for their parties (the Wolf+Lamb parties at the Marcy Hotel). For a while, I was just working with this one set of LEDs and I was making a piece for one party, then taking it apart and using the LEDs for the next piece that I built for the next party. Through these parties, I got a few offers for exhibitions and festivals and started making bigger projects and accumulating more LEDs and it just kept growing like that.
You are mainly working with LEDs, mirrors, bits of metal and computers. But what are the prior stages in elaborating your artworks …?
I usually start by fantasizing a vision/feeling and set out trying to get as close as I can to it. I always like to draw my pieces beforehand and really enjoy the whole geometry of sorting out the exact dimensions, angles and what kind of reflection I will achieve with each sculpture.
How did you actually come up with "Equilibrium", or "Staged" that seems very close to a piece you also presented during a performance at Port Izmir …?
Staged is similar to Equilibrium in its design but it's a much earlier work than Equilibrium, it was actually one of my first big projects that I did outside of Wolf+Lamb parties. It was for the Communikey Festival in Colorado, and Kate Lesta, who organizes the festival, was one of the first people that believed in me on that scale to give me the budget to do something big and I will always be grateful to her because of that. By the time I made Equilibrium, I had started making music, and was about to go on tour with Crosstown, and wanted to link my LED art with my music, so I built Equilibrium, which is the first piece that I programmed to respond to my sound. It was a cool, unique addition to my live show. Later on, I also used this piece in an art Festival called Port Izmir, where the piece took on a new character, displayed in a small pitch dark room where it responded to the viewers' voices. Both applications got a great response, and it was a very exciting experience for me to see this piece take on a complete new life and role.
Likewise, your installations "Augenblick, Head Dresser" and "Rabbit Hole" are fairly similar…
Augenblick was my first project where I started experimenting with reflection. The year I made it, I applied to Burning Man to make a human-size one for people to walk in to, but it didn't get approved for funding. I'm still hoping to realize that project some day. Head Dresser was for a psychedelic art exhibition and conference at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City called Horizons. I installed it into a barber chair and when the viewers sit and put the head piece on (which is normally used to dry and treat hair), they instead get an infinite scene of abstract LED art that moves in a pretty hypnotic way and really sucks you in, and that's kind of how the name came out, like it's some sort of a "treatment" for the head instead of hair, where the viewer's brain is "dressed" with all these hypnotic patterns. With most of my pieces, I'm trying to create an isolated head space for viewers to connect with their inner selves. Rabbit Hole was made for a concept event, which was called the Rabbit Hole, and I tried to capture the feeling of falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. It's never possible to get the full effect on video but it is available on my website for those who'd like to see: http://denizkurtel.com/rabbithole.html
What are the differences between these works and the installations that accompany you on stage when you play music? Can some of these pieces be related to the interactive devices used by Richie Hawtin or Exyzt’s light tubing (for Étienne de Crécy or Agoria and Oxia), for instance?
Well, the main difference is that I programmed this piece (Equilibrium) myself, to respond to my own sound. Instead of having pre-programmed patterns and playing over them, it was reacting to my live performance in real time and this creates a much more captivating effect since there is both an organized feeling to it, in the sense that there is a stable algorithm behind it determining the language between the sound data and what happens to the lights, but also spontaneity that comes from the fact that the music is live. I think the main difference between the way I use it and others is that I build, design and program every aspect of my show: from the music to the lights, to the physical art piece, everything is made by me alone. Other names like you have mentioned have created much bigger shows than me and are on a different league. My shows have a bit more of an intimate and organic feeling because no one can be as close to your art as yourself and I think being able to make the whole thing yourself is a unique advantage.
What projects are you currently working on…?
I've had a few sound projects in mind for a few years but the kind of sound system that I need for it is not being sold, so I've been researching a way to build one myself.That is my next dream project if I can find some free time, now that I have the space for it. (…) I was just asked to design a new club that is opening in Istanbul next fall. It's part of a bigger project reforming a whole neighbourhood in Istanbul that's sort of an "electronics" district and the building that the club is being built in is going to become an art/culture/music/cinema centre and community and they want to have a different artist design the club every two months. They asked me to do the opening design and a special performance. My plan, roughly, is to build installations throughout the space and connect them to my live music performance for the opening show. Musically, I'm going to start putting together my next album soon.
INTERVIEW BY LAURENT DIOUF
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #6.
Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.
Read the magazine for free online.
anne cecile worms ARTIST, ARTWORK deniz kurtel dm_artist Jason Cook Mur Water PCB Object Avatar by
More information about formatting options