ISEA2011 WORKSHOP: Community Science: Istanbul 41.04/28.97

Community Science: Istanbul 41.04/28.97

Workshop Leader: Matti Pohjonen
2nd Leader: Shabina Aslam

In 2010, a group of international artists from the UK, Finland and India took over a historical park in Bradford and created a guerilla broadcast network, which allowed audiences to listen to short audio plays on their own mobile phones while roaming around the park. This crossmedia project – entitled Sounds Like Graffiti – used a diverse range of methods from participatory theatre, electronic music and digital technology/art to provide a new space for unheard stories to be broadcast in a city notorious for its crime, poverty and ethnic tension.  By using simple digital technology, our project brought alive the rich stories of especially disadvantaged young people who live in these spaces by using the unique media ecology of these locations as a platform for creating innovative art (To see the portfolio of our work, please visit

This workshop looks at the tools/ideas/concepts necessary to produce such location-based art – that is, art that not only reflects the narratives of the people who live in these spaces but art that is also produced by using the idiosyncratic media ecologies of everyday locations as its canvas.  There can never be a one-solution-fits-all for such work.  Rather, what we need to do is develop a method of community science that explores the complex relationship people have with different spaces and everyday objects around them. The two-day workshop is divided into two parts.  The first day explores the theoretical and practical issues involved in creating art in specific locations and the principles of such ‘community science.’ The second day looks at the practical issues involved in directing/producing content within such location.  At the end of the workshop, the participants will then exhibit their findings. These can be either in a form of a worked out concept/workplan or by using to the objects/spaces to create an art piece/performance – anything from scribbles, pens, paper, menus, napkins, tables, walls, light switches, laptops, mobile phones, bluetooth, TV monitors in place, projectors, iPads, mp3 players is allowed!

Istanbul is a unique city at the cross-roads of the East and the West, with a dense fabric of history embedded in every location of the city.  We have therefore called our workshop Community Science: Istanbul 41.04/28.97 reflecting the unique geo-coordinates and history of this fascinating city.  Towards facilitating our knowledge of Istanbul, we are therefore getting assistance from the Arcola Theatre and its sister theatre Talimhane Theatre in Istanbul with creating these workshops. The art pieces produced by these workshops will therefore have a longer life beyond the ISEA festival in Istanbul, including a potential theatre performance in Istanbul.
Bios of the Presenters
Matti Pohjonen is a researcher / visual artist working at the intersection between theory, technology and visual arts.  His background is in media anthropology as well as in the visual arts (photography, painting, design). His work aims to combine critical anthropology/cultural studies with recent developments in information, computational and digital theory, with a special focus on the practical and experimental sides of digital technologies for artistic and social purposes. He was previously a Research and Teaching Fellow in Digital Culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and was the Digital Artist for Sounds Like Graffiti: Bradford.

Shabina Aslam is an experienced Theatre and Radio Drama Director, Creative Producer and Dramaturg. Shabina has worked as a director for Contact Theatre, Qatar Foundation as well as the BBC. Productions include I Hear Voices for Contact Theatre, Something Dark by Lemn Sissay for BBC Radio 3 which won the CRE Race in the Media Award in 2005.  She was recently appointed Artistic Director of Ankur Productions, Glasgow, Scotland.
The workshop is open to all participants and requires no prior background.  Only bring your everyday media gadgets and we will have fun and make creative use of whatever is available.


Posted by:  Ebru Surek