Artist Statement / "Virtual Landscapes"
“There’s so many different worlds, so many different suns. And we have just one world. But we live in different ones.” – Dire Straits / Brother’s in Arms
Technology always has been the cradle of the miracles. We turned what the scientist dreamed of once upon a time, into reality today; by the means of technology. The fast pace of life that we have today, the high technology electronic devices that we have, the enclosed spaces that we pass most of our time keeping us distant from nature more and more. Whereas Technology has been promising us more spare time since the 19th century but people working even harder in comparison to the past. The technology should have served us. However we happened to be the ones who serve.
So, are we happened to be happier after all? Does it mean that we are so close to people via technology that we really are close?
In the past people used to know each other and their stories even better. When it comes to today we don’t know about each other’s stories. Today’s World that McLuhan described as “global village” give way to information to go around the world easily when experiencing communication in the dimension of instance at the same time.
On the other hand information in the old days; was the integrity that obtained through learning, research, experiment, or observation. These information used to have the quality of being recordable, visible, reobtainable. Talking about today (in Postmodern discourse) what is important is not searching about the truth, to displace the conception of truth itself and deciphere the process mechanism. In that sense it is targeted to multiply the truths rather than constituting new truths.
Virtual Landscapes which is the name of my exhibition and subjects are removing the information from it’s very own nature (from reality), it’s reproduction and providing it to share. When doing this benefiting the conception of tree which is the most primordial ancient symbol of information.
When we look at the ancient mythology tree that is dedicated to information and divine world, is believed to be the model of the universe throughout the history in many doctrines. The tree that is the subject of the religion that is the first sin committed by the first human (the forbidden tree and its fruit), symbolized the connection between the worlds. For instance it’s believed that the tree that jesus was crucified was made of tree of life in eden and has the attribute to resurrect the dead. The rod is holy in christianity and Judaism since, it is representing tree of knowledge of good and evil. An another tree which is believed to be holy is Christmas tree. As stated in Torah God created the human and tree of knowledge on the very same day.
The tree in eden that was the subject of Divine comedy written by Dante depicted as upside down. The tree of life in different cultures is representing cosmos and human spirit.
It is in the form of a map of macrocosmos and microcosmos. According to Kabbalists the tree of life is the model of the formation of the cosmos. The tree of life is also is the tree of knowledge.
The tree has a different significance among the other beings such as mountain, stone, tree, fire, water. The tree is always among the most primer holy symbols. The reason for it, it is tied to the ground by it’s roots, it’s branches reach out to sky, perennial. İt rejuvenates itself numberlessly by shedding leaves and coming into leaf. It’s the symbol of returning life after death.
Turkish mythology is written by the legends sanctifying tree and forest and that owes it’s power to the respect it has for it. The leaders who established states and leading the society was believed to be granted bliss by God and it was given by the means of tree. Due to tree is a medium that merge heaven and earth and bearing mankind to God. The vives of Oguz Khan and Bogu Tegin were born out trees of life and a golden stake was shining over their heads as the symbol of tree of life.
Yakut and Altay Turks called tree of life tree of world also. According to ancient Turkish tradition this, is a tree that was connecting the world from it’s middle (navel) to the otherly world and Demir-Kazık (Iron-Stake Star) it was the mediator that elevated the shamans by it’s branches to High Heavens for journey. It is single, solitaire and able to stand on by itself. İt is not in need of people; but people need it.
In the documentary “Cengiz Han’ın İzinde” (on the track of Genghis Khan) an adventure of Kalmuk family on the track of Genghis Khan is narrated. On one of the magnificent scene that they embracing trees and kissing and speaking to them it is vocalized as such: “Can you hear the trees are whispering. They talk to us gently from their tops. However we don’t listen to them… For thousand of years we pass near and turning deaf ear to them. They still saw a lot of things… There is a generous heart under this bark, I love you… You give me the power to heal.”
The tree of life, it’s roots from underground, branches from heaven reaching him so that it’s believed that people gets through it to reunite Creator. For this reason sacredness was attributed to trees but never worshipped. It was only sign of unity between the center of the world and universal axis. Another words it is a path that leads to eternity.
Shamans were also employing trees to reach out the heaven as a ladder in this context. They called this “Demir Ağaç” (Iron Tree). According to shamanistic tradition, world was connected to “Naval of Heaven” by the means of this tree and nourished through it also. The importance of this connection for the earth was the same as the significance an umbilical cord in uterus have for life.
So this cosmic pole is the Tree of Life. The creation of human being also happened to be in this center.
In many religion,the manifestation of God on earth in the shape of tree. People try to be close to the trees. They make wish to them. Communication with God is achieved through the trees. Budha whose born by a mythological birth story was also enlightened under the tree of knowledge.
The tree of knowledge also named as holy tree, the tree of the state, the golden tree and when it came to Islamic era turned into the tree of eden. On the other hand The Ottomans were accepting the trees as the symbol of sovereignity and the crown of the souls of their ancestors.
It’s defined in Sufism as the Tree of Life “Tree of the world.” Adem is only a fruit of this tree. When Mevlana said “The world is a tree and we are the frits of it”, Ataturk moved a giant building on the rails not to displace a tree; and in times sat to cry for a cut down tree. From past to present walnut tree was the subject of Nazım’s poetry and the plane tree entered into our lives as a heritage from Osman Bey. As a result of this maybe the tree of life is the symbol of both the past and the future.
The concept of family tree may also have derived from that. When the tree symbolising it’s ancestors, representing the next generation by it’s branches.
While the tree used as an instrument to direct naturel events, it was seen as a means of communication with God.
The meaning that is attributed to the nature and the tree which is seen as the part of it, attaining a new dimension by the technology today. What is starting to replace the authentic nature from now engraved on the memory for all of us, there is landscape only composed of the imagination and design. This landscape is neither similar to Cezanne’s nor Pisarro or the other paintings of the modern era. This scenery that we are in today is encapsulated by social media networks, it is a world continuously inviting us to share. We don’t just exchange the nature by the technology, we also add artificial components to it now. My usage of the trees and the nature as covered by internet networks, emphasizing our effort to fictionalize virtual worlds beyond our effort to get away from nature.
“Virtual Landscapes” bring these two information world together (the tree of knowledge in the past with social sharing medium which is internet today). And possibly trying to articulate that we find a “scenery” where there is nothing to see and learn in reality behind our world which is getting transparent in every way and behind any visual and text that is presented to us for sharing.
This scenery, brings the danger along itself to turn into an abyss any time by the unlimited and instant sharing opportunity that the digital world offers us.As Baudrillard pointed out “Even to phantasize is not needed today. Our position maybe resembles a tree lost it’s shadow… After all we are not taking roots becoming tumors…”
Ali Alışır – 2014