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Art, like science, is about experiments. Some fail, others succeed to varying degrees. Istanbul-based new media artist Uğur Engin Deniz is both an artist and scientist, so much of his adult life has been about experimentation.
In his still and motion graphics work, Deniz creates abstracted and unreal forms. One work, like Chi 02, might look like an amorphous mass, while others, like Pulsar, seem to be exploding. In Endence 02, a form of what looks like the Buddha is replaced with what might be video synthesizer’s moire effect. But Deniz’s techniques, style and output seem to be as varied as the number of works he creates, from the cyberdelia of Kuku Kachu to the weird topographies of Impression 02.
And this is just Deniz’s still work. The videos are trippier yet. A video like Duel (see above) might explore the fluid motion of interwoven black and white ribbons, while something like Khton seems to be more inspired by mathematical patterns. But this may have something to do with Deniz’s mathematics background.
After studying physics at university, Deniz got involved with the glitch art community. While he says his still and video experiments don’t qualify as glitches, the community channeled his work in other directions and influenced his mindset.
Halved, courtesy the artist
“I am a self-taught artist [and] through the years I tried to satisfy the standards of the visual industry,” Deniz tells The Creators Project. “I spent endless nights trying to grasp why the tools doesn’t exactly do what they are supposed to do. Terabytes of experiments ensued.”
In the process, Deniz started to see each button as a particular function rather than a magic fix. This tendency grew over time even before he was exposed to social media communities. By then, he was disillusioned with the idea of striving for commercial perfection. Instead, inspired by the glitch community, Deniz wanted to explore the “uncanny.”
Surge, courtesy the artist
Deniz uses a number of software tools, but his digital “headquarters” is generally Cinema 4D, as it can either shoulder the whole process, or create content for other tools. Besides programs supporting 3D, he also enjoys using node-based platforms such as Quartz Composer and Touch Designer.
“I try to engage with gadgets such as Kinect, Oculus Rift and hopefully all the emerging technologies out there as I gather the means,” Deniz says. “Beamers are my mistress—I like working with a column of light sweeping over surfaces.”
“I think of the experiments as my refuge from pitfalls of commercial production—there are no quotas to fulfill, a certain aesthetics or singularity of meaning I need to convey,” he adds. “This made them ensue in a flowing state. Anything can be a trigger. I try to avoid post-processing besides color correction as much as possible.”
In Deniz’s work, everything has to take place in the virtual camera, however contradictory the idea might seem. When he starts a composition, he says it spills out a beam of chaos through “simulation tools, changing physics and fractal noises.” Then he tries to tame it down to a comprehensible world of events. The ultimate goal is to create elements that have their own life characterized by the way they move.
Pulsar, courtesy the artist
Motion and interaction are at the core of his work. At first, early 20th century experimental animators such as Norman McLaren and Oskar Fischinger were his primary influences, alongside the work of science fiction master Stanislaw Lem (Solaris, The Futurological Congress). Now he’s interested and inspired by the work of Memo Akten, Quayola, and Kyle McDonald. “They consistently manage to intertwine the technique with purpose elevating new media from a bag full of fancy tricks,” he says. More recently he’s been inspired by videos found on Vimeo, including David O Reilly’s music video for Venetian Snares’ “Szamar Madar.”
While Deniz’s work is highly visible online, he’s also been part of mixed exhibitions and performances. Centrifugal was part of Salt Soyut (Purely Abstract) on Mixerarts, while Deep Blue was a part of Port İzmir Triennal. Deniz also created live projection-mapped stage visuals for the play Boş Şehir, which is currently on tour. Last year, his work appeared in three glitch-related exhibitions around the world: Glitch Shop (London), /’fu:bar/ glitch art expo (Zagreb), and Glitcha (New York), and this year he’s contributing a virtual sculpture in the Uncurated Pavillion at The Wrong Biennale in Mexico City.
Endence 02, courtesy the artist
As for future plans, Deniz’s pursuing an “unnamed genre of broken 3D with numerous contributors.” He says it will take years until they deplete its possibilities, but for now it’s full of wonders.
“Real-time rendering in game engines is galloping and slowly the set purposes of tools are being eradicated,” he says. “There are no clear borders between creative coding, engineering, scientific, and gaming tools and gadgets anymore. I’ve been sitting on some for awhile and [the works] will unfold as they mature.”
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