10 Minutes with Yağmur Uyanık

Yağmur Uyanık (b.1992) is a Turkish born San Francisco based new media artist with backgrounds in architecture and music. Her work explores repetition, process and intangibility through creating instruments of displacement. She is interested in socio-technological processes, cultural systems of the information society and their spatial contexts. She aims to extend the digital media to a point that it becomes a physical experience with a focus on material reconfigurations that characterize a digitized world.

Uyanık has received her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture with a minor in Music and her Master’s degree in Art & Technology from San Francisco Art Institute as a Fulbright scholar. Her work was shown internationally at institutions including Ars Electronica, Linz; Sonar D+, Barcelona; Furtherfield Gallery, London; Signal Light Festival, Prague; Geneva International Film Festival; Art Futura, Rome; Exploratorium, Swell Gallery and Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco and was written about in publications such as Archinet, Designcollector, Designmilk, FRAME Magazine and Earmilk.

Open Space director Huma Kabakcı interviews this week’s guest Yağmur Uyanık on her practice, residencies and on what she has recently been up to .

Looking Glass (2018) by Yağmur Uyanık
Parabolic mirror, camera, custom robotic arm, custom face tracking software
The Midway Gallery, San Francisco

When we first met digitally you were at a residency. How does residencies help you formulate ideas and concepts? 

I think residencies become a reason for intentionality. You intend to immerse yourself in the creative process and commit to your practice, which is how all work starts. Having the space and time to be with yourself and reflect on your practice helps develop a higher level of awareness of your own thoughts and ideas. Residencies also give artists the opportunity to live and work outside of their usual environments, which comes with exploring the unfamiliar–may it be locations, cultures, communities or concepts. There is almost always something productive in this–feeling the insecurity, getting comfortable with it and turning that into something meaningful. There is so much growth in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing yourself operate in new modes.

What has influenced your work the most? 

My upbringing, my early explorations at the intersection of architecture and sound, different cultural influences I was immersed in and recently the new world order driven by the control of information, socio-technological processes and their diverse configurations.

Selfmaking: layers of becoming with ( 2020) by Yağmur Uyanık
3d printed sandstone, 4-minute audio loop
Furtherfield Gallery, London

How does technology feed into your artistic practice?

In my practice I employ contemporary technology whilst also considering it as a geophilosophical provocation to, and a method for, critical thought. I’m interested in illustrating how these tools are put to use within the modes of techno-authoritarianism and how this can be shifted for new methods of engagement. The intrinsic relationship between power and technology in the age of infrastructural globalism with its relation to cultural dynamics is what I’m currently interested in exploring.

What motivates you to wake up every morning?

 I’m motivated to engage in the process of making work – to go deep into the tunnels of thought –  by getting lost and finding new paths, watching the ideas evolve and reach a point where I believe they need to be manifested and shared. I enjoy the meandering mind, it gets me up in the morning, it also keeps me up at night.

You come from a music background and sound is always present in your work. Can you talk a bit about how it plays a role with physical works of art?

 Intangibility of sound and its relation to space invites the audience to navigate and position themselves whilst freeing themselves. It also gives the physical object an opportunity to create new contextual relationships with its location and allows it to spatialise. Sound is transitional and extends the physicality into a transformative state.

Lux Aeterna (2017) by Yağmur Uyanık
LEDs, reclaimed wood, acrylic, custom software
The Mint, San Francisco

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently producing new work that will be a part of an upcoming group exhibition in my hometown Antalya, Turkey. It’s an installation that consists of an object and a video, that focuses on production as a cultural, personal and political practice and highlights the emergence of dynamic encounters between the traditions of the past and the digital manipulations of the present. This will be the first time I’m showing work here and I’m excited to have the opportunity to share who I’ve become after moving out of here ten years ago.

I’m also working on an installation idea that recalls the current topics of data and privacy surrounding our infrastructure through the lens of sound and noise. It highlights the intrinsic relation between noise, politics and tensions inherent in surveillance relational dynamics.