Friday, August 17, 2007

IN MEDIAS RES

Color photograph on metallic paper, 2006

A project for Cey Sanat Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2007, p. 24-27)
Text by Murat Gülsoy
Images by Jeffrey Baykal Rollins


PART 1

Sana rüyalarımdan söz etmiş miydim? Her zaman... Anlatarak bitirebileceğimi sanıyorum ama olmuyor. Anlattıkça çoğalıyor imgeler. Dışarıya bakıyorum. Neresi burası diyorum kendi kendime? Orada bir dünya var. Ama her baktığımda farklı şekillere bürünen garip bir yer. Anlaşılmaz şey: bilmediğim dilde yazılmış bir dua. Göz yanılgısından başka bir şey olmadığını söylerdin. Cam, yağmur, gözyaşı... Görüntüyü bulandıran hangisi?

IN MEDIAS RES Part 2

Black and white photograph on metallic paper, 2006

Bazı fotoğrafları, yazıları yaktığımı söylemiş miydim? Hayır sır değil. Herkesin yaşamında böyle anlar vardır. Uzaklara gitmek için ağırlıklardan kurtulmak ister insan. Birer birer ateşe attım onları. Ellerim kül içinde. Dünyaya dokundum sonra. Siyah beyaz bir cehennem tasarlamamıştım. Hayat ağacının kökleri dolanıyor boynuma. Daha fazla sorgulamamı isterdin. Denedim. Soruların azalmasıymış yaşlanmak. Ben cevapları hiç merak etmedim ki...

IN MEDIAS RES Part 3

"Mt. Qaf", smoke and India ink on burned plexiglass mirror, 2006

Başkalarını nasıl gördüğümü biliyor musun? Nereden bileceksin ki... İnsan sadece kendi gözleriyle yanılır. Bulanık bir aşk yaşamıştım bir zamanlar. Beni yanılgılara sürüklemişti. Hayatın anlamını bulduğumu düşündürtmüştü. Sen inanmazdın, ama bir şey demezdin. Suskunluğunu hiç bölmedim o yüzden. Sen sustukça, ben insan aklının olmadığı bir yere gitmek isterdim: Dünyayı anlamlandıran bakışın olmadığı, ağaçlarının iç boşluğuma doğru büyüdüğü...

IN MEDIAS RES Part 4

"Sophia I", smoke on burned plexiglass mirror, 2006

Çocukluğumun hazine sandığını sana göstermiş miydim? Dünyanın garip nesnelerini biriktirdiğim bir dönemdi. Yapraklar, taşlar, kabuklar, kozalak ve kelebek ölüleri. Hayata bir daha öyle iştahla dokunmadım. Ellerimin unuttuğunu gözlerim yanılttı hep. Dışarıya baktığımda korkudan başka bir şey görmeyişim ondan. Gülerdin ben anlattıkça, acı nedir bilmedin sen derdin. Korkunun panzehiri acıymış, sen ölünce anladım. Artık dışarısı dediğim yer soğuk bir mezar. Yakında benim bakışımla bulanmayacak bir yer işte...

Keskul Interview


Photos by Adem Ozkul for Keskul

The following is an excerpt from Pinar Kutlu Zengin's interview: “Jeffrey Baykal Rollins: The Shape of Beauty”, Keskul, No. 10, Fall, 2006, p. 100-108.

I work alone in a small studio in the Besiktas neighborhood of Istanbul, which is a place so private that no one but my family even knows where it is. This wooden house was built at the same time as Yildiz Saray with left-over materials from the palace, but today is in such poor condition it looks from the outside like no one could possibly even live there. However the inside of the house reveals another world all together different. Over a period of decades, a great sheikh who lived there lovingly painted every square meter from floor to ceiling, of the fourteen rooms throughout the entire house, even the toilets. What is truly remarkable though is not how much he painted, but what he painted: wood grain. Mind you, this is a house made completely of wood, and this man spent fifty years painting over that wood, simulated wood grain that goes in a different direction than what lies underneath! Most people would probably think the man was crazy, and that for fifty years he’d done nothing more than waste a lot of time. In fact many people who come to the house don’t even notice that the wood grain has been painted over. Many of those who do notice still do not look close enough to see what has also been painted into the wood grain: eyes, ears, suns, galaxies and splashes of drops in water. Furthermore, the knots of wood he has painted into each panel add up to numerical symbols that represent a whole lot more as well. What I learn daily from this is that it is possible to make every single element in a work of art meaningful, and it is worth devoting a lifetime to do it.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Babel @ GalataPerform

Babel: March 7, 2007 @GalataPerform, Istanbul, Jeffrey Baykal Rollins performs with his son Shems

Babel was an evening of student performance works exploring issues of art and language, with an emphasis on the spoken-word. Over the course of the event individual works evolved into a dynamic collaboration amongst all the participants, bridging differences in culture, language, media and a variety of art disciplines, in a work curated, directed, and performed by Jeffrey Baykal Rollins. The site for “Babel” was “GalataPerform”, Istanbul’s cutting-edge performance/experimental theater space. Located directly next to the Galata tower, in what is unquestionably the most multi-ethnic part of the city. University students around the world were emailed and asked to contribute translations of the story of the Tower of Babel into ninety-nine different languages. These translations were then utilized in a variety of ways throughout the evening of performances.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Elemental

"Untitled", color photograph on metallic paper

The city of Istanbul, like my own artwork, is all about layers. There are in fact many Istanbuls, all overlapping, each obscuring and revealing the other, like a series of veils that we try to see through. There are layers of architecture. Layers of repairs. Layers of roads. Layers of signs. Layers of lives. Layers of meanings. Layers of bureaucracy. Layers of graves. Layers of story, and there are many, many, layers of extreme and subtle beauty.

To photograph in Istanbul then is to look through these layers of image to something else that we can not entirely see. We block out most of the city to photograph a piece of it. The shutter opens, then it closes again. The act of photographing both blinds us and opens our eyes.

Drawn to a landscape through the burned window of an underground passageway. Light through water. A wall behind fire. The sky through a grave. We no longer know for sure what we are seeing, these fragments of the city have become something else completely.

Each time we photograph we contribute to this city’s ever-increasing multitude of layers. Like a Beyogolu wall full of posters, we place one image over another, covering what lays beneath it. The image becomes part of the fabric of the wall, the wall already inseparable from the architecture which makes up the city itself. Istanbul grows thicker with each image, there is more and more to take in, and the city becomes harder to see.

The city’s dense image makes it impossible to see much of Istanbul with just our eyes. As if we are blind it forces us to see by other means. I photograph in Istanbul daily, to remind myself of this. (From an unpublished essay written by Jeffrey Baykal Rollins for Kare Magazine, 2006)

Elemental is an ongoing series of color and black and white photographs by Jeffrey Baykal Rollins exploring the intermingling of absence and presence. Fire, water, earth and air are addressed at their points of entry, where luminous objects slip from one element into another, often visible only through the traces they leave behind. Exhibited at the Pool Art Fair, New York City, 2005

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Autopsy From Life: The Work of the New Daguerreians


The following is an excerpt from "Autopsy From Life: The Work of the New Daguerreians", by Jeffrey Baykal Rollins published in Genis Aci #40

A daguerreotype is like no other photographic object or image. Each is a one-of-a-kind direct positive, printed literally on the surface of a mirror. Small and intimate, hand-held like a book, we see ourselves reflected therein . Depending on the position of the viewer, the image on the silver-coated copper plate passes back and forth between positive and negative with extraordinary clarity. Often portraits, the figures appear, then dematerialize like ghosts, within a mirror that also contains our own fleeting reflection.

© Jerry Spagnoli, “Anatomical Detail #6”, 2001, daguerreotype 

Here is an image that is explicitly dependent upon the participation of the viewer, which is why daguerreotypes are impossible to fully reproduce. A conventional photograph remains always still, a fixed image, whereas reflection in a mirror changes with the position of each viewer. Furthermore, a daguerreotype plate “has an invisible substrate” explains contemporary daguerreian Jerry Spagnoli, which “permits the viewer to directly engage the subject”. Beholding a daguerreotype is tantamount to experiencing the initial moment the camera took in,  because “the substrate is a mirror and the subject is suspended within this optical medium”. According to Spagnoli the daguerreotype is therefore not a photograph at all, but an “optical system involving the plate, the viewer and light”(1).

The daguerreotype invites and facilitates personal observation unlike any other photographic process. Spagnoli keenly exploits this in a series called “Anatomical Details”. Works like“Anatomical Detail #6” and “Anatomical Detail #21” are differentiated in name only by number, making the titles as sparse and clinical as the images themselves. Placing pristine texture against empty light-less backgrounds, the artist zeros in on the surface of skin with the surface of silver. As these bodies recede into the blur of shallow depth-of-field, detail emerges out of darkness. Spagnoli perceives this conflict as “the push and pull of objective and subjective, of information and oblivion”. His is way of seeing, like the way after weeping, the world appears both blurred and far more clear.

© Sean Culver, "Presence Series (Cloud)", daguerreotype

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Kucuk Kiyamet


Press Release

Artist Jeffrey Baykal Rollins has created a series of paintings which feature prominently in the new Turkish film Küçük Kiyamet (roughly translated as “Little Apocalypse”; the film’s official English title has not yet been confirmed). Rollins collaborated with directors Durul Taylan and Yagmur Taylan (who are known professionally as the Taylan Brothers in Turkey) and screenwriter Dogu Yücel for this psychological thriller/horror movie, which is said to be based on the earthquake fear of the Turkish people. The cast includes some of the country's most important actors and actresses, such as Basak Köklükaya, Cansel Elçin and Ilker Aksum. The soundtrack has been written and produced by Kevin Moore of Dream Theater fame, whom together with Rollins have been described by Altyazi Magazine as “the two American heroes of the film”. Rollins’ contribution consists of two dozen paintings, from which much of the story and scenes are directly based upon. Rollins has also served as visual advisor to the directors, a first in Turkish cinema, consulting on the film’s overall look, cinematic approach, and shooting locations.
 Küçük Kiyamet will receive a theatrical release in Turkey on December 22. After that, the movie will be released in Europe with limited distribution. The movie trailer can be downloaded from the movie's official site, www.kucukkiyamet.com, or watch the trailer online at YouTube.com.