The global pandemic has turned the world upside down and has affected millions of people psychologically if not physically. However, there are still some artists who can give us inspiration and light hope in our lives in the days of Corona. Berk Kır is a photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. He is known for his collaborations with global institutions like Apple, Samsung, and Vogue Italy. He is one of the artists that continue to create during the lockdown. In the series “Home diaries: Webcam”, he captures portraits through a video call. In his current creative project, he combines his existing works with screenshots taken from city surveillance cameras to create beautiful collages.
Berk Kır-Collage with city surveillance cameras: Grand Bazaar
The “Home Diaries: Webcam” series was published in Vogue Italy and attracted great attention. When asked about his inspiration and the starting point of his project, he answered: “the biggest trigger was my desire to discover ways to overcome rather than get used to the isolation we are in.” Berk Kır also stated that his view of isolation started to take a completely different form in this process. His main intention is to assure the continuity of the creative process in daily life. In “Home Diaries”, he guides the models during video calls and takes screenshots. The works of Alessio Albi in Italy, which carry out online productions, were one of Berk Kır’s nourishing points.
The “PrtScn” button, which allows me to take a screenshot, replaced my shutter.
When people cannot get out of their houses, they long for the actions they used to do in their “normal” lives. Nowadays, there are lots of online opportunities for art lovers such as museums opening their exhibitions to visit online, theatre plays that are open for viewing in various online platforms as well as films. I asked about his opinions for a potential increase in the appreciation of arts in society due to the opportunities we are surrounded with.
He stated that surely, accessibility brings consumability. At this point, the quality of consumption may need to be discussed. “When I think in a general framework I want to believe that it contributes to creating a memory. In line with my observations, I can express that people tend to not miss the experience instead of discovering something new. If this perception changes, the existing interest will be collated.”
Berk Kır– Home Diaries: Webcam
It’s inevitable that the pandemic is affecting most of the sectors for the time being. I asked him about potential changes this outbreak could make in terms of production and consumption of arts in the future; Do you think that long term isolation and drastic changes to interpersonal communication will affect art and photography in the future?
By being physically located in separate spaces, we can still become a part of the common production.
Kır says that there is a globally adopted idea of transformation, but understanding the essence of digital transformation is the main point. Adapting to technological advances is only a part of it. He states that it’s inevitable that outbreaks cause innovations in their own period. By being physically located in separate spaces, we can still become part of common production. Under quarantine conditions, this is shaped according to the technological equipment one has. For example, it’s also possible to infiltrate outside the physical space with a drone. When he imagines life after the virus he thinks photography will keep its originality as a form of production.
There is a pressure that this period of staying at home should be perceived as an opportunity especially from social media but it’s not always possible to assure this. How does staying home affect your productivity?
“Yes, I would like to state that I am not a fan of this imposition.” He mentions that when he started to not leave his home in early March, “a feast of archive” was taking place online, one that we could not possibly reach in a short amount of time. On the other hand, online courses gained momentum at that time. “I think these are originally very valuable steps but I think people’s desire to share how they reach these values doesn’t make sense for me.”
When it comes to how this reflects on social media, Berk Kır says; “ Next to the goodwill behind people’s intention to share what is seen beneficial, a percept of “I only share what is beneficial” emerged in this period throughout the influencers.” He conveys that he feels like witnessing these dilemmas has recently affected his motivation to create. “Staying at home works as a deconstruction of the bonds with the outside world for me. At the same time, I am developing new perspectives and meanings for the objects I see at home. Since I have an innovation-seeking characteristic, I can create my own motivation in my own setting and continue to create.”
Berk Kır– Home Diaries: Webcam
Lastly, I asked him about his thoughts on the effect of social media on the arts: “As an artist who uses social media very effectively, what do you think about the power of social media in the days of corona?”
Kır replied: “I find nurturing the eye and memory very important. My form of using social media channels develops solely from these two factors. Sometimes I get included in a memory and sometimes I am attracting people to the memory I created. Internalizing and absorbing the act of seeing is very valuable. I feel like I use this power correctly as long as the content is internalizable.”
Cover: Berk Kır