8 Questions for 8 Winners

monoco.io team

by monoco.io team

Published June 11, 2023

Hello, would you like to start by telling us a little about yourselves? Where have you studied, and where do you currently live and work?

Metehan Özcan: I have studied in the fields of spatial and visual communication design. After living in Ankara and Izmir for a while, I have returned to Istanbul and I teach part-time in multiple universities.

Eda Şarman: I have studied architecture with the sub-branch of sustainability, followed by moving image. I create new methods in my practice by merging these two fields, and I currently live and work in Istanbul.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: I have studied graphic design at Bilkent University for my Bachelor’s Degree and visual arts and visual communication design at Sabancı University for my Master’s Degree. Lastly, I completed my PhD in the design, technology and society programme at Özyeğin University.

I have been living in Indianapolis, US, and working as a lecturer at the Indiana University, Herron School of Art and Design.

Eva Popovic: I’m from Croatia but I’ve been based in the UK for the past eight years. Currently, I work with Arts For Health Milton Keynes, delivering creative workshops for local Eastern European residents.

I completed my Master’s degree at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2022, receiving the Berenice Goodwin Prize for excellence in performance art. Prior to this, I studied Illustration and Visual Media at the University of the Arts London.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: I live in Çanakkale. I studied graphic design for my Bachelor’s Degree, plastic arts for my Master’s Degree, and followingly, painting for my D.A. Despite my educational background in graphic design and painting, my current practice is focused on the field of experimental film.

Ece Duran: After my undergraduate education in architecture at Izmir University of Economics, I studied architectural design at Istanbul Technical University. I currently give lectures part-time at Istanbul Bilgi University and Istanbul Kent University, and along with those, my interdisciplinary artistic practice focuses on the exploration of the spatial potentials of the virtual.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: I’m a media artist based in my hometown, Istanbul. I studied visual communication design, which encompasses a wide range of multimedia practices and experiences across various mediums, all of which are evident in my works.

Yiqing Chen: I am an artist and digital director now living and working in London, I graduated from Royal College of Art with master degree. I would say I’m floating between multiple identities, I do commercial cases, I also do my own creation and research. My work are more in the digital realm, but I personally enjoy hiking, traveling, and a few interests related to growing and fermenting.

Could you tell us about your creative process and what lies at the core of your artistic practices?

Metehan Özcan: My art practice has developed by working on the representations of architectural and urban scale design and visualisation techniques. I started by photographing the abandoned places I visited in their atmospheric conditions. Then, I moved on to creating layered, fictional narratives with technical images, promotional photos, and memento photos.

Eda Şarman: What is at the centre is relationality; revealing the invisible in the visible, which we often encounter in art, appears in my practice as noticing the entanglement of objects, living things, spaces, and events. While the process that starts with the encounter deepens with research, they come together in works where I combine different techniques.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: Researching is at the centre of both my work and my artistic production process; the idea comes from my research. Then, I think about how to turn these ideas into sounds and visuals. I’m mostly inspired by science, politics, and ecology. By combining these concepts, I create imaginary worlds, satires, and visualisations.

Eva Popovic: My practice is mostly concerned with culture, identity, and emotions.

I’m a research-led visual practitioner so I typically embark on a research process prior to making, as I find that the most exciting part of the process.

I work best when I know what it is I want to express and the mediums I choose depend on the concept of the work. I find the concept the most important part of the work.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: I can say that my works are generally shaped through participatory practices and constitute the final output in the field of experimental film. I like to use methods such as video game art, documentation, storytelling, and improvised collective processes. In the work that I exhibited at monoco.io, I tried something different and created digital paintings.

Ece Duran: In a very general sense, I can say that my practice is shaped by dreams that fall within my personal interest and curiosity. Dreams that reveal our own worlds in a mysterious, highly volatile, and unique way, deep in the familiar layer of daily life visible to our consciousness, constitute an area of inspiration for both my personal life and my productions, structurally, imaginatively, and experientially. Dreams serve as a compass for me as a production method, with many characteristics such as their refusal to settle in a direction that has a beginning and an end, their multiple and fragmented states of being instead of holistic, and their tendency to affect emotions by disabling the mind. This compass allows me not to deviate from normative procedures, generalised masculine approaches, and existential escapism against rational reason, that is to say, it points me towards exploring the creative possibilities of space by developing tactics of making myself irrational (intuitive approach, chance, coincidence, mistake, bodily instincts).

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: I am constantly drawn to experimenting with diverse materials and exploring their properties. The slightest variation in multisensory experiences fascinates me, particularly how human perception responds to various visual stimulators. Therefore, I create multimedia works that involve movement, light, sound, and tactile sensation.

Yiqing Chen: My work is concerned with narratives related to wireless communication, technical culture and globalisation. This interest stem from my bachelor’s experience in Internet of Things Engineering, where we worked with a lot of software and hardware on a daily basis. It has cultivated in me a habit that observing life through a materialistic lens. Walking down the streets of London, for example, you can see bowl-shaped antennas installed on houses everywhere, on each house building. But this is not something you see in China. Such a development with the communication infrastructure is closely related to the urban space, politics, and the cultural content that it carries behind it. My research focuses on these communication industry, which is developing at a very rapid pace currently, which projects a contemporary vision to the future and connection. I also use CGI technology in my work that I find interesting. As digital image simulated by software, it has a smooth and false quality. During the practice you can in fact simulate real physical parameters in the 3D software, but more tamperable as you want. It is like a layer of film between the viewer and so-called reality, so dreamy but clear that it is momentarily difficult to tell what is realistic.

What is the importance of being selected to exhibit as part of monoco.io’s first open call by its jury for you?

Metehan Özcan: Honestly, I was quite excited, because monoco.io not only allows the digital artists of this period to come together, but it also encouraged me to share the works I have created with AI-supported software.

Eda Şarman: Monoco.io intrigued me as a digital platform for not limiting the artists in their choice of media and also for how they value physical exhibition. Instead of leaving behind our accustomed practices, I value including the new to them as we move forward.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: I am pleased to be included in this exhibition. It is an honour to be a part of an exhibition that is open to the new and the experimental.

Eva Popovic: It’s great to be selected, particularly as it was for a new and experimental piece of work. It felt validating and a sign I’m going in the right direction.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: It is indeed a good feeling, although I missed the opening, I am happy to be part of this programme.

Ece Duran: As Vilém Flusser subtly mentions, I see the act of presenting as a creative act ‘within’ the production process, as a complement to the cycle of making that two hands come together to initiate. For this reason, I find it as important and valuable as the beginning of this production that I have completed my production cycle, which is specific to the work I exhibit, in line with the opportunity opened by monoco.io.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: I have always defined my work as physical and tangible. Being a millennial, I was born into the “late-beta phase” of the digital world, which has instilled in me a fondness for analogue. I continuously utilise the latest digital tools to create physical artworks, striking a balance between the two. This open call offers an excellent opportunity to showcase this aspect of my work.

Yiqing Chen: I am very honoured to have been selected by Monoco, which I feel is open and not tied to a form of medium or artist’s background. I think it is a more forward-looking platform for contemporary art, in the era of decentralisation. And Monoco gives me a feeling of harmony and I feel comfortable with them. I think this is a very important and good factor, because it makes art not competitive but like a creative conversion, it promotes art industry to a quality and professional direction.

Examples of open calls organised by different institutions are made more widely. How do you evaluate calls focused on a single point in “New Horizon”?

Metehan Özcan:  I find it meaningful as a medium. There may also be open calls with different conceptual themes over the years. Some take time after the open call and spend it as a working group with the training or production process. Any theoretical and practical interaction can strengthen the content of the exhibition.

Eda Şarman: This is always my preference. Especially if there will be an exhibition as a result of the call, seeing the interpretations of a subject with different perspectives allows us to go beyond the limits of our perception and open the door to diversity.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: Framed and well-defined open calls focusing on a single point also help applicants better define their ideas when writing. This simplifies the creative production. In addition to this, it becomes a more easily-understandable exhibition for the audience.

Eva Popovic: The benefit of this approach is seeing the variety of ways artists make works, using seemingly similar techniques but producing vastly different results. It allows the viewer to focus on the medium in closer detail.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: Open calls that focus on a single method or technique of this kind may be more facilitating for the career goals of artists who produce in these given fields.

Ece Duran: First of all, the “New Horizon” exhibition and meeting other artists and their works in a single frame, who produce on different subjects but within the same medium and circle has helped me to take a closer look at my location and position. I think that witnessing the changing parameters through a common focus, through art and design offers the opportunity to develop an in-depth approach and perspective on a specific subject and theme. Also, I believe that such calls are an effective method to look at the audience as an active participant who mentally brings the works together on a common ground and continues the production process, rather than just as a witness to the exhibition.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: As an artist, I have the privilege to explore and adapt to every idea, context, and brief. For me, an open call theme serves as a motivation or inspiration, rather than an instruction to be confined within.

Yiqing Chen: It may seem like New Horizon is a single point, but the understanding of it is actually open-ended. Everyone could finds resonance in their own work, but everyone interprets it differently. Maybe I can only see part of Horizon ahead, but all artists’ work actually connects the horizon they see, to other artists, to researchers and audience. This is the new horizon that we are creating, it’s making connection.

What was your motivation in choosing digital mediums in your artistic practice? How do you improve yourselves in this particular field?

Metehan Özcan: In my previous works, I was trying to get lost and become anonymous with found visual and written archival material. Since last year, I have been fascinated by the ability of artificial intelligence-supported software to visualise by feeding on collective knowledge. Instead of producing brand new content, I still create narratives with the images I created with reference from my archive.

Eda Şarman: In fact, what matters to me is the technological rather than the digital. I have a practice where I research how we use, shape and transform natural cycles with technological systems to understand the situation we are in. Culture affects our approach to nature, and in turn, the technologies we develop change, and these relationships are also affected in reverse. I choose the technological elements I use in my work according to the relationships I evaluate in that job. It’s a constant state of learning.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: I am currently creating digital animations using artificial intelligence tools inspired by old artworks. The Garden of Galactic Delights exhibited at monoco.io, is also the first work belonging to this series. In this work, I reinterpreted Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych with artificial intelligence in a futuristic way and turned it into animations.

Eva Popovic: Digital tools, particularly AI, interest me because of their rational and cold nature, and seemingly infinite possibilities. I’m completely new to using digital tools so there’s a lot to explore. My next adventure is learning to use Blender.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: I am an artist who turned to the field of video after experimenting with painting and sculpture. Video has always provided a more liberating space for me. Since I care about techniques such as documentation and participation, the works I have drawn have always included other people in the process. This is something that has enabled me to meet many people, listen to many stories, and even create common stories. For me, this is very valuable. I can say it makes my life more meaningful. The fact that I include fields such as computer game aesthetics in my works comes from my curiosity. My dissertation was also in this field. I continue to read and think in this field.

Ece Duran: I believe that the ability and skill in a field are triggered by a state of desire that develops from inadequacy and deficiency felt at the very beginning. Although I describe myself as a very analogue person, the inability I felt in the process of linearly conveying the worlds I imagine led me to use the visualisation capacity of digital tools in order to better convey these worlds. Nowadays, I’m thinking about the VR-based experience and its unique constructs to open the door to experience these spatial dreams that I have built.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: Today, most creative tools are digital or have digital equivalents unless they are extremely specific. While I have a passion for tactile outputs, I also embrace and utilise contemporary tools in my arsenal as a technology enthusiast to achieve my goals.

Yiqing Chen: I think that for me digital tools actually mean a structure, a path constructed between matter and viewing. When we use software to produce an image, it doesn’t just appear suspended in electronic screen, the arithmetic that runs the image, each pixel of screen flashes with different RGB light, there is a complex industry and ideology behind the technical image. When it moves as glorious light, we are actually looking at the reason why it was created. At the moment I am using technology to create images and at same time I am asking it through the process of creation.

What is your opinion on the blockchain technology that has existed for a while now but recently gained more popularity, and its positioning in the art world?

Metehan Özcan: I find it meaningful in overcoming geographical difficulties.

Eda Şarman: I can see the implementation of architectural, philosophical ideas, and even social movements that have developed since the late 60s and 70s in blockchain principles. These movements remained outside the economic systems between originality and mediocrity. With the adoption of blockchain technology, a financial link is established between the artist and the work of art, and I think this will support the continuity of artistic practices.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: Blockchain is a new emerging technology. Its association with art is a promising yet problematic process. I hope it will take its place in the art world as a more qualified, reliable and sustainable technology in the future.

Eva Popovic: I think the recent popularity of blockchain is due to its democratised nature, allowing anyone to access the market. We live in an increasingly unequal world and the art world reflects that. Blockchain offers alternative possibilities for ownership and trade.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: I have not put much thought into this subject, therefore, it wouldn’t be fair for me to speak in this regard.

Ece Duran: Frankly, although I do not have much knowledge in the field of blockchain technology, I find it enriching that various concepts can hybridise in order to protect their limits, rather than refuse to keep up with the current world.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: Blockchain technologies are often publicly associated with two main topics: Cryptocurrencies and NFTs. However, it is a complex network technology with immense potential. In the art world, the overwhelming exposure to the financial value of NFTs has overshadowed the broader discussion of blockchain itself. That’s why I have chosen to focus on the fundamental aspects of blockchain as my subject and created a multimedia work.

Yiqing Chen: Blockchain may sound technical and distant from our daily lives, but in fact it is already creeping into our lives. While decentralisation serves as an alternative structure, blockchain serves as the underlying technological support which is connecting site to site in an invisible and independent way. In the flood of globalisation, it makes our personal information more secure, creating a digital environment that is not controlled and monitored by capital. Protecting information is precondition before we need to move into a more informative and digital era.

What are your thoughts on the protection and monitoring of artist rights in the decentralised environment provided by this technology?

Metehan Özcan: AI applications also brought up copyright discussions; we are entering a new era not only technologically but also conceptually.

Eda Şarman: Even though the situations I observe start locally, they appear again and again in different places, cultures, practices, and relations. In digital, productions do not stay in place, they spread to a wider environment. The diffusion provided by this technology establishes a connection between me and my work.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: I do not think that protecting the rights of artists depends on technology. Although blockchain seems decentralised, it is a technology that has problems and also contains many risks. I hope these problems of artists will be resolved in the future.

Eva Popovic: Immutable certificates of authenticity and ownership are a good thing for art and artists, and the potential for artists to earn royalties upon resale as part of smart contracts is a massive step forward for the industry. The proceeds of art trading have only ever benefitted wealthy collectors and intermediaries, and it is only fair that artists begin to benefit as well.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: As I previously mentioned above, I don’t know much about this subject. However, the definition of decentralisation seems premature to me. I find it too ambitious. My approach to my definition of decentralisation is different, it is not something that can be evaluated only on the scale of digital environments. When we talk about a centre, I think of the decisive role of classes in the economy. I also think that there are many different issues that artists need to discuss before issues such as traceability and copyright. Issues such as whether the identity of the artist is equal to the identity of the worker, vital needs, and volunteer work are more confusing to me.

Ece Duran: Although some of the concepts we are familiar with basically have the same function, it is interesting to me that they shape themselves with the possibilities of the virtual in the transfer from physical to digital. At this point, the process of preserving the uniqueness of a digital work seems to be a possible and illuminating subject for discussion, following Walter Benjamin’s thoughts on reproduction in the period when photography and cinema came into our lives.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: The rights of individuals are inherently entrusted to others, and this dynamic will persist indefinitely. The issue of artist rights is of paramount importance, and artists themselves should play a pivotal role in shaping the policies surrounding this matter. Blockchain technology offers significant advantages in terms of establishing proof of originality and editioning, although its application is currently primarily limited to digital artworks. As for NFTs, while transactions may be decentralised, the transparency of the overall system remains somewhat lacking.

Yiqing Chen: I think the decentralised environment is putting the topic of intellectual property protection on the table for artists who create mainly video and digital work. And it means that a new way of capitalising on art is being established, if traditionally the owner of the physical works should pay for it, then a blockchain-based structure allows copyright of forms other than easel art such as animation, games and video to be protected.

Finally, how would you evaluate the new opportunities created by platforms such as monoco.io for artists, and the diversity they provide to the art world?

Metehan Özcan: It is very valuable to have more of such examples. I wish it to be a means of experiences that can be lived together as well as visibility.

Eda Şarman: It increases the accessibility of these technologies to artists. In a way, I liken it to a ship in a huge blockchain ocean.

Gürkan Maruf Mıhçı: Every technology brings with it new possibilities and also many problems to discuss. Monoco.io is a platform that has seen these new possibilities well and tries to help artists.

Eva Popovic: It’s exciting to see more open calls which focus on new media, particularly from a curatorial perspective. Open calls like these open opportunities for artists to showcase a wide range of uses of current technologies.

Kadir Kayserlioğlu: I consider it a good thing; bringing together people who produce in the same field and enabling them to meet is a very good breakthrough. I wish for more to come.

Ece Duran: With the support of a curatorial team, I see it as a creative contribution to include new and contemporary perspectives on artistic productions in circulation. I find the existence of platforms such as monoco.io, which values creative production and opens new doors and areas in this sense, valuable and motivating, especially in the process of the loneliness felt by many people who produce artistically in Turkey.

Ufuk Barış Mutlu: It is a fantastic opportunity and initiative to have a digital art platform like monoco.io, where artists can mint their works under the guidance of the lovely monoco.io crew. Additionally, having a new platform to showcase my work with a clean design is always exciting!

Yiqing Chen: I’m delighted to see the emergence of platforms that are spreading artistic content across geographies and bringing it to wider audience with a fresh vision. What it is creating is a future community oriented towards digital art, and I believe it represents a new form of contemporary art development in the digital age.