Water Memory

October 1-25, 2015
Melis Bürsin, Sırma Doruk, Seyhan Musa, Bahar Yürükoğlu, Louisa Marie Summer

 We are what we remember. Nothing is so uniquely one’s own memories— not only because they form the transcript of an individual history, but also because that transcript is so idiosyncratically preserved, so personally constructed and maintained. We are how we remember. The act of recollection is fundamentally creative act as well as an existential act; it is at once self-expression and self-constitution.

Scott Burnham, “Schubert and the Sound Memory”, The Musical Quarterly 84.4 (Winter, 2000): 655

The exhibition Water Memory reflects upon the notion of memory and how it is formed through diverse lenses ranging from personal to collective ones, featuring digitized and manipulated versions of ourselves, and utilizing the lexicon of nature and human physique with corresponding sound elements.

The fourth century B.C.E. Greek philosopher Aristotle compared memorizing to making impressions in wax, and the belief that memories are copies of reality that a person stores and later retrieves has been widespread. In 21st century, we trust what our ‘smart’ gadgets store for us to ‘remember’ and to be ‘remembered’. In reality, much that is remembered captures the gist rather than the details of the original experiences, and we forget remembering is often a process of reconstruction, manipulated through the neural passages of our brain.

It is proven by this century that recall or retrieval of memory refers to the subsequent re-accessing of events or information from the past, which have been previously encoded and stored in the brain. During a ‘recall’, the brain “replays” a neural activity pattern originally generated as a response to a particular event, echoing the brain’s perception of the real event.

Video as a medium, functions similarly to the way we retain memory, where the information or events from the past of the artist are encoded and are replayed in unique combinations under particular circumstances. Thus, remembering can be thought of as an act of creative imagination.

The artists’ urge to create in portraying the “sense of being intimately close yet exiled from present tense reality” mirrors itself in the way the water memory hypothesis is constructed.

‘Water memory’ is described as the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substances previously dissolved after arbitrary number of serial dilutions. Although remaining controversial due to the highly disputable nature of this hypothesis, it is at least a productive metaphor in the arts for thinking about manipulated perception of the pervasive societal dynamics.

This all-women video exhibition, opening on October 1st at Space Debris, mimics the mechanics of memory or ‘the act of remembering’ with the site-specific works. Each artist is unique in their approach to the matter at hand, but they have one thing in common: they utilize the dialogue between photography and video in re-creating narratives of and for memory. Some use instances of memory recorded by gadgets of the new millennium, while others stick to older techniques of photography and film-making. While one of artists prefer a quasi-scientific approach, the other develops a documentary aesthetic with a conscientious style .

The works included in the exhibition re-visits and re-consolidates echoic (aural) memory tandem with iconic (visual) memory as a mental process, in a playful way, suggesting the tragedy of romantic memory in relation to personal and collective spatial instances.

“What has touched us on the surface and what we recreate to recall is translated here before your eyes to experience. “[1]

[1] Text from “Water Memory” Interactive Log

Melis Bürsin (b. 1984, Istanbul)  lives and works in multiple time zones. She studied Italian Art History at the University of Georgia’s program in Cortona, Italy. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006, and her MFA from Columbia University in 2013.

Melis Bürsin is a lens based artist; she works with video, print, and photography. Her videos fuse together immediate influences of media culture with mythology in order to unveil the paradoxes between knowledge and experience—what we choose to preserve and what we purposefully choose to repress. Feelings of interconnectedness fuse with nostalgia, deceiving your mind into feeling connected, while your body is detached—creating a phantom limb-like effect. It is in this internal conflict between the mind and body: the psychosomatic. She embraces the remixed melodramas in re-creating both personal and mainstream images.

Sırma Doruk completed her undergraduate studies in Istanbul Bilgi University’s Photography and Video Department. Some of the group exhibitions that she participated in are; Things That Count… Things That Don’t, New York, USA (2015); Non-existing Images, Istanbul, TR (2014); Time Lights, Kleinmachnnow DE (2011). She lives and works in Istanbul.

Sırma Doruk makes us confront an abstraction that goes beyond what is seen. She creates fields and moments of discovery, evoking a chaotic taste that relates personal issues with sociological conditions. Particularly pertinent in her video works is the ironic state of mind created by the individual’s reactions.

Seyhan Musaoglu is a multi-media artist whose work spans the fields of live performance, sound art, film and video, and 2-D media. Drawing inspiration from diverse sources ranging from science fiction imagery, to fashion, to modern dance choreography, her work investigates the gap between sound production and music composition, contemporary feminist theory, and the history of avant-garde filmmaking. She has been performing widely with collaborations celebrated internationally in genres of sound and experimental noise. She is also an innovative independent curator, and is the founder of the sound, new media&peformance festival {SØNiK}Fest. Seyhan holds an MFA from Parsons the New School for Design. Some of the venues her work has been presented at are: The Kitchen (NYC), New York Studio Gallery (NYC), Lit Lounge (NYC), Curta 8 Film Festival (Brazil), and Istanbul’s famed venue, Babylon.

Louisa Marie Summer, born 1983 in Munich, is an artist and documentary photographer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Photo Design from the University of Applied Sciences Munich and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. In 2010 she relocated to New York to work as a freelance photographer and photography teacher for students with special needs.

Louisa is an artist concerned with inequality between social classes. Through subtle and intimate images she examines issues of social structure, inequity, identity, and survival. She has explored these issues in India, the Republic of Georgia, the United States, and most recently in Ukraine and Romania. Eager to address human needs and to give voice to those living on the margins of society and those not heard in their communities, her work is comprehensive yet conscientious, exploring and expressing her personal values and addressing issues she considers paramount, regardless of media relevance and coverage.

Bahar Yürükoğlu was born in Washington DC. She received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art & Design (Boston, MA) and her BFA from the School of Visual Arts (NYC). Her work has been shown across the US, and internationally. Bahar currently lives and works in Istanbul. Bahar’s recent solo exhibitions include This Place, maumau works (2015), Neosapes, Beth Urdang Gallery (Boston, 2014); Self-Titled, Nesrin Esirtgen Collection, (Istanbul, 2014); WYOMING, the Hallway Gallery (Boston, 2014); and Melting North, 301 Gallery, Montserrat College of Art (Beverly, MA; 2013). Recent group shows include; Intimate Horizons, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, (Portland, OR 2014), 2013 Biennial, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (Lincoln, MA), We, Out There, SIM Gallery (Reykjavik, Iceland, 2012). In June 2015 she attended the Arctic Circle Residency, in the Svalbard Northern Territories in the Arctic Circle. Yürükoğlu combines photography, video, and sculptural elements to alter a space both indoors and in the landscape. Inspired by both natural and constructed landscapes these mixed media installations use plexiglas to investigate light and color in the natural world. She has spent several years photographing these tableaux in extreme settings like Iceland and Wyoming. Drawing connections between a raw natural landscape and contemporary culture, Yürükoğlu is interested in the dichotomous relationships between natural and artificial, reality and illusion, cause and effect.