An Engineer/Artist with an Urban Issue: Hakan Sorar
As one of the newest members of the Art50.net family, Hakan Sorar examines the effects of the intense urban transformation particularly taking place in Istanbul on the individual’s relationship with his physical space as well as on memory. Sorar embraces photography as his basic medium but he carries it outside its two-dimensional surface with his extraordinary assemblages, and we had a great conversation with him on his artistic journey.
How did your transition from engineering to art take place? Did you already have an interest in art?
To be honest, it is difficult to talk about a real transition at this moment. I currently work as an engineer and continue with my artistic explorations simultaneously. Regarding my interest in art, I think it began with my attempts at drawing my mother’s portraits when I was seven years old. Of course, in time, it evolved in various directions. Although I enjoy visual arts as a whole, this process turned me into an artist with a special focus in photography, and I realized I enjoyed it even more. Thus, I continue my experimentations around the discipline of photography and all the other disciplines it can be combined with.
Your art focuses on themes like the individual and the city, urban transformation and memory that are already very popular these days. Can we talk about your specific approach in more detail?
Themes like the individual and the city, urban transformation, the city and memory are not only regularly addressed in my works but in the contemporary art of the post-2000 period at large. My point of departure is actually the relationship between the individual and the space; in time, this interest of mine took me towards pursuing various investigative paths. While working on the connection between the individual and the space, I began to study the concept of memory, which, in turn, encouraged me to pursue themes like bodily and architectural deconstruction, urban memory and urban transformation. I can say that the organic link between all these themes contributed to my artistic pursuit. What is more, I spent most of the last decade living in areas where I witnessed extensive urban transformation, and I am not pleased by the fact that the mere transformation of buildings is often referred to as urban transformation. We also have to reflect on what the city itself is transforming into, and I still seek the answers to my questions about it.
How is your relationship with street art? Since you are so deeply involved with public space and urban life, I assume your paths must have already crossed…
I can say I am a good street art spectator. As an artist with a focus on the city and its people, I see street art as an indispensable element of the urban environment. I would love to create wide-ranging works like JR’s, in which photography and street art could breathe together. In fact, I am preparing myself for a project about some areas that I am sure will disappear very soon.
The artists and art events in Turkey and abroad that you follow with enthusiasm?
David Hockney and Şahin Kaygun are the two artists that I follow with enthusiasm and that deeply inspire me. I particularly admire Şahin Kaygun’s Polaroid manipulations. On the other hand, I closely follow almost every single art event in Istanbul. More specifically, BASE and Mamut Art Project are among the events that I look forward to every year. Witnessing the artistic languages developed by the members of my own generation contributes to my individual progress. Since I also work as a photographer for the Artisans magazine, I follow current exhibitions as closely as possible and I prioritize them in my art agenda.
As an individual with a background in Natural Sciences, how do you interpret the relationship between art and technology?
I think we are going through a period in which we are witnessing the transformation of art as a consequence of the digital technology. I am particularly inspired by the fast-paced developments in photography in parallel with the developments in technology, and the grandiosity of multidisciplinary collaborations. The exhibition “Digital Revolution” that I visited a few years ago allowed me to re-evaluate the situation from an art and experience design relationship point of view, and to reflect on the affect-concentration processes. Similarly, the VR and AR technologies are going through a big evolution in terms of their effects on areas like photography and moving image.
Now let us talk a little bit about dreams… If you were given the task of architecturally designing a very important building one day, which building would you wish it to be?
Architectural design is the most mesmerizing discipline for me. Architects Kenzo Tange, Oscar Niemeyer, Aldo Rossi and Frank Gehry are my biggest influences with their scales and the relationships between their forms. I am also influenced by Brutalism and Soviet buildings. I wish that building to be the Walt Disney Hall, as it offers incredibly deep angles from all directions. I think its blurry, reflective surface and texture look very impressive in combination with the city and the sky. On the other hand, my view from where I live is a panoramic image of Istanbul and its urban transformation; I wish I could see more green space and less concrete from there.
How did your paths cross with Art50.net? Your views on online art platforms?
Our collaboration began after I shared my portfolio with them. Art50.net is the only online platform I have been following with enthusiasm for a long time. And I enjoy their inspirational and informative Artlog page the most. It informs us on museums from around the world as well as those art events we cannot attend. Moreover, they use their social media channels very actively and effectively, and this gives us artists greater visibility. To be honest, I know of no other online art platform that has such up-to-date content and visibility.
You projects for the near future?
I continue experimenting with Fujifilm and Polaroid. I am currently working on an extensive series on portraiture and deconstructing cities. Six pieces from this series will be exhibited at the World Art Day Izmir Exhibition. It will begin in April and will be on view until May 5.
Click for the artist’s page.