About Augmented Reality Exhibition "Hamam"

AR Augmented Reality is becoming more and more popular day by day. As an American Arts Incubator Amplify 2019 I adore using new tools to tell my stories. My last exhibition Hamam had all secrets revealed with augmented rality app ARTIVIVE.

Here are some images and comments about art critiques from the exhibition.

Augmented Reality Art via ARTIVIVE App 


I define myself as a set designer and visual storyteller. Using a 3D modeling software offers unlimited possibilities when designing space for the stories I tell. Many of my stories have gender roles, social issues, and LGBTQAI rights. In my studies, there are frames and connections of ancient mosaic coating patterns that symbolize the limits of living in unity. As a cultural heiress who feeds on archaeological sites that I have established close relationships with in my childhood, I am very impressed by the methods of telling stories about the optical illusion language and periods of mosaics.

While creating space for the stories I tell, all my angles work like a storyboard. My favorite tools are 3D softwares because they have the power to fill the gap without any gravity and budget. Using 3D softwares for drawing offers the possibility to use tools such as 3D printing, CNC or laser engraving while producing my work. Besides, I prepare 3D animations, AutoCAD drawings and photos to visualize my stories.

The materials I love vary according to the concept I am working on. As an artist with stage and set design experiences, I am fascinated by the language of the materials and their out of general purpose potential.
I was taught to remain silent about my existence. That's why most of my stories have secrets about the society I belong to, and the mosaic frame patterns I use frequently, borders, turn into areas that I need to fit.

I have been abstracting ancient mosaic tiles in recent years and have been using storytelling methods about their period. I am fascinated by the illusions of their frames, their borders and the 3D surface they try to act as. With the interfaces I use, I feel that I have reached the threshold filled with 3D anxieties that the mosaic masters of the time tried to reach through three-dimensional programs. I read archaeological publications and Queer theories for the fiction of my stories. Following the American Arts Incubator program I am a participant in, I continue to work on new tools to improve my 3D design skills.

The bathhouse series was shaped through researches to identify women, the subject of my previous exhibition, in certain areas. While working on "Gynaeceum - Women's Gathering Place", which is my archaeological and historical research series, the analysis of public buildings, private properties, body, gender has led me to baths with interesting readings. Bathhouse series, which emerged on the social and spatial change of the bath, which is one of the architectural structures shaped by the bodies as a reference to spatial encounters, also takes on the mission of transferring information to the future while feeding on verbal expressions.

Although the tranquility caused by the diffusion of daylight leaking from the eyes of the elephant to the place with steam, creates sub-dome verjuice, the baths hosted socialization, riots, organizations, pleasure, healing, murders, legends. Today, the "Hammam" exhibition, which has turned into a very touristic experience and whose number is gradually decreasing and whose original architecture has changed, looks at the keyhole with its personal testimony, verbal memory and various constructions, and brings the audience to the invisible behind the visible with the Artivive application.

Valuable names such as İlker Cihan Biner, Kerim Kürkçü, Lütfiye Bozdağ, Tuncer Gül wrote various texts for the series shaped with the images of east-west. It is divided into 4 baths: Coldness, Warmness, Heat and Hypocaust.

Ahmet Rüstem Ekici

Fine touches, spaced loincloths, flaming bodies

Another day from fetus and
While beginning,
I bleed a branch with my nails
I touch an unopened rose

Friend Z. Özger / One day, making love to me

0. Prologue

Breathing with prohibited desires causes the body to close in itself.
In an inner world where the sun is not rising and darkness collapses, feelings are buried in the
mechanism of shame. Now, the entire development area has the risk of turning into a desert.
It is only a matter of time
to be blown away from among the noisy masses who speak to us and impose borders.
Nevertheless, we start looking for someone to share this loneliness in streets, parks or other places
where the day is unknown. We are thirsty for a glance,
a hint or a touch. We attempt to find ways to tear off the darkness within us.
We venture out of our own cave to fall on the roads. We think that neither death
nor oppression can stop us.
Hazards appear at the door. Here comes the question of embarking on adventures,
that we can call freedom, eroding borders and building ourselves. Indeed,
we keep thinking that what keeps us in this world. We confuse upon the
difficulties of lifting and throwing whatever is written on the body. We search
for possibilities to find gap places.
Nipple, lips, hips... As we feel that every corner of our body is cut off,
it becomes inevitable to come face to face with death. On the verge of nothingness,
the desire to touch the stranger on the edge of the cliff begins to grow day by day.
Like the snowball, the surface of the skin is filled with endless vibrations.
So we can say that; Being able to crack or escape from the patriarchal
order kneaded with dual gender domination takes place as the building
block of each of us' s struggles. Hasn't the way of our ocean-like worlds passed
through parks, bathhousess, bars?  These places,
where our first sexual experiences, love and friendships take shape,
surely exceed the power lines of the classical space.

1. 'Hammam' as an interact.

Ahmet Rüstem Ekici  traces an escape place in the drowned to the point world, where various forms of sexuality are prohibited. The artist deals with the surfaces of baths, which have been the subject of fairy tales, archaeological research, and mythological narratives from Anatolia to Europe and even the Far East for centuries. However, these areas are not studied with a mystical view of orientalism. The works of art transcend Orientalism, born at the heart of colonialism, processed as a spectacle. The venues are removed from the context of Pandora's box and covered in flesh. Bodies, objects spreading to the works are not processed with an oriental closure or sub-erotic references. The oriental sexuality we see in some places, the exotism of Arab boys, especially Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, is a narrative form in which he avoids. But by gathering all our courage, we need to explain how mystery, which is the key concept of orientalism, is processed by detaching it from its context. Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, who has turned the conception upside down, focuses on the indicators in the baths that turn into a place of sexual experience. In doing so, it transcends the natural-artificial duality by creating a digital universe. Space frames, body marks, erotic objects shaped with antique mosaic coatings connect on the fabric and connect the most distant possibilities. Thus, the hammam emphasizes a reality that can express the sexual energy field.

2. Epilogue

What does the concept of heterotopia point to?

For example; prisons, mental hospitals, cemeteries are the characteristics of heterotopia. Today, the concept still remains useful. It means, these mechanisms, which occur as visibility-guiding visions, having changeable or dynamic qualities, are always in a position to show. Each position, which we can also call function devices, points to different regimes of power. Although the bath is seen as a cleaning area (or heterotopia) before social dynamics, this situation is reversed in Ekici's works. The perception of classical space may indicate bilateral gender domination such as men's bath or women's bath. But the exhibition get over this situation via queer theories. The bathhouse opens the door to many stories and experiences as the place where sexual experiences or the contacts of the bodies form on the brink of borders. Finally; The possibilities of the rainbow are not too far away. In this context, Ahmet Rüstem Ekici's Hamam exhibition is waiting to be seen. Many more stories buried in the gaze will come to light with the Works of art.

İlker Cihan Biner

A homoerotic exhibition; The Bathhouse

Lütfiye Bozdağ

AICA member, Art Critic

Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, who sets off from the concept of Turkish bath, offers the opportunity to discuss some of the new concepts added to the field of art with his latest works in his exhibition at Gallery Bu. We can list these concepts as follows: "homoerotic", queer space, "Layhar shroud", "Hermaphrodite", "gay sex".
The artist, who chooses to make a rich art with various techniques such as paintings, prints on fabric, installations, holograms, animations with the art vive application, materials, and the interior design education, takes advantage of the experience of décor and stage design, by taking the bathhouse. The bath, which has been known since ancient Rome, offers a concept that allows us to think of it as a queer space with the concept of homoerotic.

Ahmet Rüstem deals with the bath, which is the place of washing, cleaning and purification of both the Ottoman and the Republican era since ancient times, not only as a place, but with all its elements and cultural aspects.

Bathhouses in the official ideology of history; Although it is the place of water purification and cleaning, it is known as socialization areas built in an architectural form in line with the religious beliefs of societies. With the possibilities offered by technology today, the central heating system and thermosiphons in the houses have eliminated the need to go to bathhouses to wash and get clean. In addition, many people do not want to go to the bathhouse due to the risk of infectious diseases passing into the body in the bath environment. On the other hand, despite all these, the artist wants to show us what lies behind the tendency of men to go to the bath, the other side of the bathhouse, which is covered by the ideology of official history. The subject that the artist wants to draw attention in his exhibition; In the oriental view of the West, perceiving the baths in the East as erotic and exotic places and revealing the clues that are the basis of this perception. The bath, which was avoided due to epidemics and superstitions in Medieval Europe, has modernized in Europe today and has turned into saunas, which is the gathering place of gay culture. Although it is known that baths have been used not only for body cleaning but also for pleasure and entertainment since the Roman period, it is thought-provoking not to be mentioned as a sexual pleasure place.

Although the document regarding the use of the bath as a gay-sex place in the Ottoman Empire is not recorded, in the article of Sarper Yılmaz's[1] On the Concept of the Boulders; We learn some information from the Kulhanbeyi Betting section that Ebuzziya Tevfik described in his book The New Ottoman History.[2] When Ebuzziya Tevfik was exiled to the island of Rhodes, he learns this topic from a cave called Sami and explains it in his book: “Sami, who went into many jobs after losing his mother and father, applied to Pat Burun İbrahim in the Gedikpaşa bathhouse, which is the head of the supporters of the church when he has no place to accommodate. However, there is a prerequisite to be accepted to the Kulhan. Halva and pilaf should be cooked that night in the Kulhan and the child has to find the necessary ingredients in a way that will be accepted. The child who supplies the material delivers it to the Kulhan owner. With this, dinner is prepared, the candidate child does not attend the dinner and serves everyone water. After the meal is finished, the Kulhan owner bites the bread with three fingers, and he immerses it in salt, he reads a poem, which is considered sacred for the beasts, and throws the bite into his mouth, and those on the table repeat it. The original form of this poem published in the newspaper Yeni Tasvîr-i Efkâr is as follows:
The name of this home is real kulhan,
It is a place for the homeless people
Many men were brought up from Kulhan,
Who knows who is where Pinhan today.
Does not fit in parent's arms
Kids are guests in this furnace.
Koca Layhar is our father,
God is the sultan who doesn’t have any equal
Let’s repeat hu for the spirit of Layhar, hu
For him, rich and poor is on the same level

A sibling must be assigned to the child who is accepted to Kulhan. This also has a ritual. Children who will be siblings are stripped of being born from the mother and wear a big shirt brought together by the Kulhan owner called Layhar Shroud. The child on the right puts his right hand on the right arm of the shirt and the left hand on the left. The body is unique, while with two heads and two arms visible from the outside. That night, two children sleep in this shirt. In the evening, backgammon, checkers and similar games are played, songs, manias, ghazals are sung. Then they are laid on the prepared ashes, the little ones are usually buried in the ashes in pairs and naked, such as rugs and sacks are covered[3]. ”

Although this information does not provide any clear information about the fact that the bathhouse was a homoerotic place during the Ottoman period and that gay-sex was performed, the artist included “Layhar's shirt” in one of his works as a result of implicit information and oral history. The artist transforms this shirt, where two young men enter the body naked and spend the night together, transforming it into an object of art.
The artist thinks that the bath is not a power area but a transparent one. Here he wants to show that the positions have disappeared, that everyone can see each other naked or that they can see each other half-naked in the loincloth, so that the hierarchy has disappeared and that the loincloth equals everyone as a uniform garment. Ahmet Rüstem treats the fictional bath as a queer space, while the loincloth is a sexless garment that women who cover a part of the body use by men as well.

Also, we know that the loincloth is both the same and the separator in the Ottoman baths. Bath attendants Non-Muslims do not want to wash Non-Muslims, so they are given loincloths in different colors and weaves, so that according to the loincloth woven in different colors and patterns, it is understood who is Muslim and who is non-Muslim. The artist is making designs referring to these loincloths. On the other hand, the bathhouse, where the hierarchy disappears among Muslims, where men leave from stress and relax, is the area of relaxation with the softness of steam, and the relaxation where the body gets loose itself.
When we look at the architectural space, we know that the bathhouse is generally square and the center is designed to have a navel stone and there are private rooms in it, and these private rooms are used as closed spaces for privacy. The artist designs the bath bowls, one of the most important elements of the bath, in the form of a nipple, and aesthetizes them as an erotic object. The piercing on the nipples placed in the middle of the bath bowl strengthens the homoerotic contact of the bath, the artist presents these forms as an installation in the form of about 10 ceramic bath bowls.

Another concept that Ahmet Rüstem featured most in this exhibition is keyhole and peeping. All the visuals in the exhibition evoke the feeling that we are spying on one of the key holes. Three-dimensional animations give the feeling of looking out over the bathhouse. The sense of blinking and peeping while walking in a bathhouse, the wondering under the loincloth, and the handling of the homoerotic atmosphere on the fabric such as peeping through the keyhole, reinforces the concept of the exhibition with the pattern, figures and colors of these fabrics. The animations that show that the naked body is dressed when touched create a different excitement with the viewers seeing that the naked body they touch is covered with clothing. The illusionic air in the bathhouse, which gives the feeling of watching the naked bodies secretly through a keyhole and peeping in the bath, gives the illusionic air in the bath with animations made by the artist hologram and art vive application. The animation fan shows two-dimensional images rotating on the basis of 20 frames through three-dimensional program. With this program, which has a three-dimensional interface, the interior images of the bathhouse create an exotic atmosphere with its moving parts.

All pictures printed on fabric have a frame. He says that the mosaics of ancient times always have very big frames and he wants to make them look like mosaic panels that try to provide three-dimensionality with those frames. I wanted to give a three-dimensional feeling, but I did it mostly with animations and digital techniques, he says. It provides mobility to some places in holograms and animations. When viewed from a distance, some images whose depth is not understood turn static and two-dimensional images into three-dimensional images that move using digital three-dimensional techniques and gain depth. In fact, the artist says that he carried these works beyond three dimensions with hologram printing, and that he can tell erotic stories that he could not tell with two-dimensional pictures with hologram prints and animations.
The artist, who chose to use flip flops slippers instead of wooden clogs, one of the important elements of the Ottoman bath, draws attention to the fact that flip flops slippers are sexless. In an image of these slippers, he makes a homoerotic reference with a condom on the side by positioning two slippers together.
The exhibition attracts attention with its being the first exhibition that handles the concepts of "homoerotism", queer space, "Layhar's shirt" and "gay sex" together.

[1] YILMAZ Sarper; 1 On the Concept of the Kulhanbeyi, Journal of Academic History and Thought, Volume III, Number: 8, May 2016
[2] TEVFİK Ebuzziya, 1973, History of New Ottomans, Kervan Kitapcılık Basın Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., İstanbul
[3] YILMAZ Sarper; 1 On the Concept of the Kulhanbeyi, Journal of Academic History and Thought, Volume III, Number: 8, May 2016

Augmented Reality Art via ARTIVIVE App


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