Atıf Akın

Atıf Akın

Atıf Akın’s work is about technoscientific criticism in the context of contemporary art, science, and politics. Integrating technology as both subject and means of expression, Akın explores issues that are considered sensitive in the public discourse, unlocking them from the rigid political categories in which they reside.

Akın studied science and design at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, and worked in İstanbul as an artist and educator before moving to New York in 2011. In 2009, his work was listed in the Younger Than Jesus art directory of the New Museum, published by Phaidon. That same year, Akın co-curated a seminal media art exhibition, Uncharted: User Frames in Media Arts in İstanbul, and edited an accompanying book. Akın was the recipient of the 2015 apexart Franchise Program award in New York, and the organizer of the zine project and exhibition, Apricots from Damascus, on behalf of apexart, and co-produced and hosted by SALT in İstanbul. In 2016, he took part in the public programming of Olafur Eliasson’s Greenlight Project, hosted by TBA 21 in Vienna. With the same institution, he embarked on an expedition to research nuclear test sites in French Polynesia. As part of his long-term research-driven art project on nuclear mobility and oceanography, Tepoto Sud morph Moruroa was on display at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Singapore, Le Fresnoy Museum in France, and The Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm in Sweden, and SUNY Binghamton galleries in New York. His ongoing long-term research-driven art project on nuclear mobility, Mutant Space was produced in different contexts and at various locations across the world. His latest work Mutant Time, produced at SAHA Studio was exhibited at the Müze Gazhane as part of the 17th Istanbul Biennial. Akın continues to teach as an Associate Professor of Art & Design at Rutgers University and serve as an advisor to the Center for Cultural Analysis and Critical AI Initiative of the same university in New York, where he lives since 2011.

Mutant Time
As presented in the context of the 17th Istanbul Biennial, Mutant Time is a survey of Akın’s body of work and research over the past ten years on radiation and archaeology. Over the last decade, Akın has been researching radioactivity, nuclear history and spaces, through his long-term project, Mutant Space. For the biennial, he advanced the project with a one-channel video and outdoor installation. In his new work Mutant Time, by way of activating the industrial archaeological character of Müze Gazhane, Akın creates a lens into the deep nuclear time. The project contemplates the nuclear as a time-space interface, surveying historical sites of importance to nuclear heritage and highlighting the Metsamor area, home to a high-risk relic of the Cold War nuclear complex still partly operational today, and a Bronze Age archaeological site close to the Turkey-Armenia border. The visual style of the work is an outcome of studies of explosions, sublime frequencies, overtones and gaze that they create in the landscape.

 is a participatory publication and exhibition project on academia; it consists of notebooks that are to be filled by artists and academicians who in their careers problematized the relationships between art, design, architecture, and academia in various epistemological frameworks. The source of inspiration for this project is a limited-edition book that Atıf Akın has found in the trash, in front of Milton Glaser’s studio in Manhattan among other commercially oriented graphic design books that his studio occasionally disposed of. Written by Walter Gropius and The Architect Collaborative, the book is titled Report on The University of Bagdad, a Project by The Architect Collaborative. It contains data about higher education in the US, Europe, and Arab countries; there are statements on educational approaches and pedagogical philosophies, expert views on Islamic art and architecture, academic organizational schemes, maps, floor plans, 3D renderings of the proposed design for the University of Baghdad, as well as established floor plans of other universities in the US, England, Mexico, and Asia. 

Akın’s project addresses the idea that universities of the modern age are global utopias: They are promises of space for knowledge production and transmission, critical thought, and reflection, for freedom of the mind and speech. Universities are also taken as institutions that reproduce historical and political privileges, shore up settled bodies of knowledge, and train individuals to acknowledge authority and to occupy their place in society. The project also tackles critical questions with local specificities such as the land grant universities in the US or the colonial architecture in the east. Employing a reductive methodology for the analysis of the content of the book by Gropius, and surfacing and highlighting universal thoughts and ideas, the format and the outline of this book is used as a template for the design of the notebooks. The voids that are obtained through the reduction processes of the texts, charts, drawings, and models in the book will be filled in by artists and designers who are invited to participate in this global reimagination and critique of modern utopian academia.


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