[ISEA2011] Panel: Orhan Cem Çetin – Pho­tog­ra­phy, Re­al­ity, and Dig­i­tal Ex­pres­sion

Panel Statement

Panel: The Big Bang of Electronic Art: Merging Abstraction and Representation in the Age of Digital Imaging

Pho­tog­ra­phy, con­trary to gen­eral be­lief, is in my opin­ion a su­per­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the ac­tual human ex­pe­ri­ence of a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment, be­com­ing even more su­per­fi­cial when con­sid­er­ing a longer time span. In com­par­i­son to per­ceived re­al­ity, we ex­pe­ri­ence pho­to­graphic im­ages as shock­ing and sur­real. The power of pho­tog­ra­phy as a medium, in fact, is de­rived from this dis­torted con­nec­tion be­tween re­al­ity and rep­re­sen­ta­tion.  Tak­ing this dis­con­nect be­tween re­al­ity and pho­to­graphic rep­re­sen­ta­tion a few steps fur­ther into ab­strac­tion and/or ma­nip­u­la­tion of the image is a nat­ural ex­ten­sion of the medium, con­sid­er­ing that even in its purest forms, pho­tog­ra­phy re­mains a dra­matic ab­strac­tion of re­al­ity. I have been using dig­i­tal media for cre­ative pho­to­graphic ap­pli­ca­tions since 1993. Al­ways in­ter­ested in dis­cov­er­ing new ways of ex­plor­ing the ex­pres­sion­ist pos­si­bil­i­ties of pho­tog­ra­phy, by the 1990s I was al­ready using al­ter­na­tive imag­ing, in­clud­ing print­ing and dis­play­ing tech­niques such as Po­laroid image trans­fer­ring, emul­sion lift­ing, fax-prints, hand col­or­ing paper neg­a­tives and shoot­ing with home­made dif­fuse lenses. The new dig­i­tal medium pro­vided pos­si­bil­i­ties of full cre­ativ­ity and ways of in­te­grat­ing into the image fur­ther as­pects of my per­sonal human ex­pe­ri­ence of the mo­ment, but at the same time, the image was still a pho­to­graph with its strong ties with the real, phys­i­cal world and a mo­ment or mo­ments which def­i­nitely hap­pened in the past.  Be­gin­ning with early black and white scan­ning, I have de­vel­oped a mode of work­ing that ex­panded my cre­ativ­ity. In much the same way that painters are free to ex­plore the ex­pres­sion­ist qual­i­ties of im­agery, I found that through dig­i­tal ma­nip­u­la­tions the same free­dom from the con­straints of viewer ex­pec­ta­tions of de­pict­ing re­al­ity.

  • Orhan Cem Çetin was born in Is­tan­bul. A self taught pho­tog­ra­pher, in 1988, his first solo ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled Fa­mil­iaria , con­sist­ing of hand col­ored paper neg­a­tive prints, at­tracted con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion with its al­ter­na­tive ap­proach to pho­tog­ra­phy. He has par­tic­i­pated in nu­mer­ous solo and group shows ever since, with recog­ni­tion for his focus on a con­cep­tual and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary ap­proach. In 2000, Çetin re­leased a mini-al­bum, Renk’ar­nasyon, and his book, Be­dava Gergedan (Rhino for Free), a “black humor” col­lec­tion of pho­tog­ra­phy and lit­er­a­ture was pub­lished in 2004. He re­cently com­pleted a bilin­gual photo diary Tut­Keep , soon to be pub­lished as a book. Çetin is also a con­sul­tant on pho­tog­ra­phy and pho­to­graphic tech­nol­ogy, and is a fac­ulty mem­ber of Is­tan­bul Bilgi Uni­ver­sity Fac­ulty of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion as head of the Pho­tog­ra­phy and Video Pro­gram. He grad­u­ated from the De­part­ment of Psy­chol­ogy at Bogazici Uni­ver­sity, Is­tan­bul and re­ceived his MFA de­gree in Vi­sual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion De­sign from Is­tan­bul Bilgi Uni­ver­sity.

Full text (PDF) p. 389-391