For the 8th of edition of Contemporary Istanbul, the fair has launched a new section focusing on digital art and new media. Plug-In Istanbul features work from 23 galleries, studios, and organizations from 12 countries exhibiting both emerging and established artists.
London-based E L M S L Y develops and produces visual art projects. In addition to work by Quayola, Sophie Clements, and Semiconductor, they are showing a one-screen version of Presence by art and design collective, Universal Everything. In this collaboration with Benjamin Millepied's LA Dance Project the movements of dancers Julia Eichten and Nathan Makolandra are rendered in bright shapes ranging from constellation-like fractured lines to dynamic waves. The full four screen video installation of Presence is currently on view at the Media Space of the Science Museum, London and you can even contribute your own animations to the exhibit via the 1000 Hands app.
Virtual reality takes a more political tone at Kasa Galeri. The digital worlds of Tamiko Thiel and Will Pappenheimer run free throughout the fair. A series of augmented reality iPad apps can have viewers suddenly standing in a hail of gold coins, dollar-skinned toads, and even one of the most popular plutocrats, Monopoly's Uncle Pennybags. If the economic critique isn't obvious, brochures proclaiming "You Cannot Afford This" and the $6,000,000 price tag for each augment are almost a dare to collectors. Fortunately, those willing to take the challenge can purchase a print signed and marked with the bloody thumbprint of the artist for much more reasonable €20,000.
Two Istanbul-based firms explore the connection between new media art and architecture, perhaps most evident in a booth titled "The Smooth and the Striated: Geometry and Landscape as Architectural Knowledge" curated by Gözde Kavalci from the interaction design firm Emedya. Through a series of films and animations Kavalci questions the limits of computation in creating new architectural forms. Just around the corner Emir Uras, one half of the architecture firm UrasxDilekci (UxD), shows his art. In Majestic two golden objects float and spin over the blurry image of what appears to be the apse of an old cathedral. The intricately curving objects are reminiscent of contemporary architecture's swooping, seemingly-impossible-to-engineer CAD-aided designs.
CI has big things planned for the future of Plug-In Istanbul. During, the international press conference for the fair Chairman, Ali Güreli stated that he hopes to see Plug-In grow big enough to be its own satellite fair in a separate venue. It's great to see the fair fully investing in the future of digital art, and I look forward to seeing how this section develops.