Creative Figures Behind Digital Transformation Gathered at “Digilogue”

Hosted by the Zorlu Holding and the Zorlu Performing Arts Center (Zorlu PSM), the “Digilogue Discussion Panel” was held on May 6, 2016 at the Zorlu PSM and brought together the creative figures behind digital transformation. Gathering the most important names who produce works in the fields of digital technology, digital art, new media, and experimental architecture, the estimable names from the business world of Turkey in the digital field have also shared their experiences at the “Digilogue Panel”. Participants had the chance to listen first-hand to those who produces works in this field on how digital technologies can become innovative and creative when they interact with arts, architecture, and fashion.


The “Digilogue Panel Discussion” was hosted by Zorlu Holding and Zorlu PSM in two sessions. During the first session of the panel discussion, the career stories and works of the participants: wearable fashion technology designer, researcher, and curator Birce Özkan; new media artist and researcher Refik Anadol who has won many awards such as “Microsoft Research” and “Research at Google”; the accomplished architect, artist, and researcher Güvenç Özel, who ranked among the best at the architecture competition of NASA titled “Mars Colony”; architect, artist, researcher and instructor Ebru Kurbak who creates wearable technological artworks using traditional textile methods such as knitting and embroidery;  Michael Tyka who transforms the magical world of protein molecules into art through metal and glass sculptures have created an inspiring atmosphere for the attendees.. In the second session of the panel discussion, the most important figures of the digital field in Turkey, including Ali Şahinbaş, CEO of Karnaval Media Group, Çağdaş Göğüş, CEO of Hürriyet; Hatice Memigüven, Vice General Manager of Digitürk IT; and, Coşku Tarhan, the successful animation director of Sony Pictures have presented their experiences..


Ömer Yüngül, CEO of Zorlu Holding, and Murat Abbas, General Manager of Zorlu Performing Arts Center, also attended the discussion panel which was moderated by Noyan Ayan, Chief Editor of Webrazzi. During his speech, Yüngül touched upon the significance of digitalization and remarked that the luckiest community in Turkey is those that were present at the discussion panel. Yüngül concluded his speech with the following words: “Present here today are valuable names with their extraordinary works and their career stories. We are all very lucky to have the chance to listen to them. As Zorlu Holding, it makes us really happy to have organized such an event and gathered so many valuable names. We are one of the largest groups in Turkey, operating in the fields of “Textile”, “Electronic, White Appliances, and Information Technologies”, “Energy”, “Real Estate”, and “Mining and Metallurgy”. We are a pioneer in Turkey especially in digital transformation with our strength in “Technology”, “Innovation”, “Design”, and “R&D”. Today, if we could bring together the creative names behind digital transformation, this is a reflection of our leadership in digitalization. As a group, we believe in our country and in our people. It also makes us proud that a majority of the speakers here today are names who successfully represent our country abroad. As a group who has trust and believes in our country and our people under any circumstances, I believe that these colleagues of ours who are our national pride will serve as a model and inspire the young people in the audience.


Giving a speech at the discussion panel, Murat Abbas told that he used to be a DJ and he had to carry dozens of vinyls with him when he would go to a venue to perform a show but today, thousands of songs can be stored on a digital flash disk. Abbas continued his words as follows: “In the past 15 years, many new concepts has entered into our lives such as digital music, social media, and the increase of mobility. It is inevitable in such a world that digitalization becomes a part of the arts. Accordingly, as Zorlu Performing Arts Center, we brought the Digital Revolution exhibition, which was created by Barbican Centre, one of the most valuable art centers of Europe, to Istanbul. The “Digilogue Discussion Panel” we host together with Zorlu Holding within the scope of this exhibition, which attracted a great deal of attention, I believe is an important opportunity for everyone here in order to better understand the ongoing digital revolution.


“Digilogue Panel Discussion” was organized under the main sponsorship of Zorlu Holding, with the support of Vestel, as part of the “Digital Revolution” exhibition that is held at the Zorlu PSM from 20 February through 12 June. Curated by the Barbican Centre, one of the most precious art centers of Europe, Digital Revolution stands out as the most comprehensive exhibition on technology that has ever taken place in Turkey. Various areas particularly art, design, cinema, music, and video games are comprised as a whole at the Digital Revolution, which is on display in Istanbul after being exhibited in London, Stockholm, and Athens. Those who visit the exhibition will find the opportunity to experience the admirable works of world-famous artists, film producers, designers, musicians, and game producers.


Hosting the Digital Revolution, Zorlu PSM has been introducing the most important performers and artists of the world since the day it was founded. Zorlu PSM is the only performing arts center in Turkey and in the region, and among the numbered centers in Europe with its architecture, its technology, and its technical infrastructure, and allowed this extraordinary panel discussion to reach a wide audience due to its experience in digital art.


Güvenç Özel designed Mars Colony for NASA   

Accomplished architect, artist and researcher Güvenç Özel, who ranked among the best at the architecture competition titled “Mars Colony” organized by NASA, was a significant guest in this panel discussion. Güvenç Özel has participated in many events such as the Istanbul Design Biennial with his artistic works, and uses art as a platform to create technological innovations. Özel is the Technology Director of IDEAS Master's program of architecture at UCLA, and the principal of Ozel Office, an interdisciplinary design practice located in Los Angeles. An expert on adapting digital technologies to buildings, Özel has many innovative ideas on creating interactive architecture and interactive environments. The long-term objective of Özel is an architecture whereby people can communicate with the buildings through various sensors, and where the environments, and not humans, move according to the needs.


Knitted Radio, embroidered computer by Ebru Kurbak

Architect, artist, researcher and instructor Ebru Kurbak is among the speakers of the panel discussion who has created wearable technological artworks using traditional textile methods such as knitting and embroidery. Kurbak studied architecture at the Istanbul Technical University and is currently an artist, researcher, and instructor living in Vienna. Kurbak often uses textile methods and materials in her works. She currently runs an artistic research project “Stitching Worlds”. She runs this international art project with her team at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, with the grant she received from the Austria Science Fund. She is creating an 8 bit computer by using textile material and techniques in this “Stitching Worlds” project. Kurbak proved that she can produce a radio transmitter by knitting with her work “The Knitted Radio” she had designed a few years ago.


Michael Tyka is inspired by protein molecules

Another participant of the panel discussion was Michael Tyka, a research fellow who has been studying the structure and dynamics of protein molecules for a long time. Having been involved in art and sculpture since 2009, Tyka creates sculptures of protein folds and wants to inspire those who want to learn more about these fascinating molecules. Tyka is a co-founder of ALTSpace, a shared art studio in Seattle. This shared studio provides an environment where creative people come together, share their knowledge and experience as well as their works and ideas, and can even find a place for their large works that do not fit into their houses. Tyka also works on computer simulation software for a project titled Connectomics (the field that studies the maps of connections within an organism's nervous system) at Google. Tyka conducts artistic projects on artificial neural networks, and his project titled DeepDream is one of the most invaluable projects within this field.


Theodore Spyropoulos, an accomplished representative of experimental architecture

An estimable participant of the panel discussion was the architect and educator, and an accomplished representative of the experimental architecture Theodore Spyropoulos. He is the Director of the Architectural Association's world-renowned Design Research Lab (AADRL) in London and the co-founder of Minimaforms, an experimental architecture and design studio. Spyropoulos had previously worked as project architect for the offices of two world-famous architects, Zaha Hadid and Peter Eisenman. Spyropoulos is a co-founder of the New Media and Information Research Initiative at the Architectural Association. Spyropoulos has been practicing experimental architecture and design since 2002 and has recently received attention with two thematic scaffolding structures, the lighting he prepared for the National Park in Athens, and his work titled Emotive City.


Birce Özkan brought wearable technology to the catwalk

Wearable fashion technology designer, researcher, and curator Birce Özkan introduces technology to fashion and to the catwalk with her works, and was another speaker who participated in the panel discussion. Özkan has magnificent designs such as the “compass jacket” that directs its user through an application installed on it and an electrical compass; “defoliation dress” that has the capability of perceiving the environment like living organisms; “the skirt with butterflies flipping over”; and, the “outfit that modifies itself according to the environment and movement”. Graduated from the Department of International Relations at the Koç University, Özkan completed her MFA degree in Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design, and today explores an extraordinary field. Wearable fashion technology designer, researcher and curator, Özkan currently teaches “Interactive Garments” class at the Parsons despite being just 27 years old. She showcased her projects in London, Paris, New York, California, and Texas, and won “the best Wearable Technology Design Award” at a competition that was held in Japan in September last year.


Refik Anadol designed the first visual data sculpture of the world

At the panel, Refik Anadol, who is familiar to many who are interested in digital art in Turkey, presented beautiful examples of new media during his presentation.

Digital art enthusiasts will also remember Anadol from his work Liminal Room which he exhibited at the Istanbul Light Festival that took place at the Zorlu Center. Anadol is a lecturer at the UCLA Design Media Arts Department. A new media artist and researcher, Anadol has many awards such as “Microsoft Research” and “Research at Google”, and has been creating works all around the world in the fields of live audio/visual performance and site-specific immersive installations, and defines himself as a “New Media Artist”. His works explore the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture and media arts, using arts and technology in unseen ways in order to establish groundbreaking connections between the audience and the media. He exhibited his sculpture titled Virtual Depictions, the first visual data of the world, with dimensions of 15x30 meters in San Francisco, US. His site-specific audio/visual performances have been seen in Walt Disney Concert Hall (US), Hammer Museum (US), International Digital Arts Biennial Montreal (Canada), among others.