“The Image:the flux, and inside and outside of the fold”, Catologue writing, Akbank Art Center, Hasan Bulent Kahraman


The image: the flux, and inside and outside of the fold

All of the works in Zeren Goktan’s exhibition are connected to each other, and all the three parts are established upon the image-video motion. Henceforth, they share common structural characteristics. The main component of this “common characteristics” is implied foremost in the name of the exhibition: in-flux.

The name “in-flux” both connotes the inside, internal, and the flux/torrent. On the other hand, it bears the meaning of “internal flux.” That is why the English word “in-flux” is preferred. The word “flux” has many other powerful meanings in English. The accurent Turkish equivalent of the word is ak?m/ak?nt?/sel. But like any other words, it goes beyond the limits of “accuracy” and control. For instance, ak?m gets another sense in physics. Above all, when we say “flux” today, the word appears with its “new” meaning, constructed by Deleuze.

Flux is a term which Deleuze, along with Guattari, constructed in order to go beyond the conventional meaning categories of philosophy. According to Deleuze, flux presents the continuity, the absense of interruption -a flux which encloses everything, and is imputed by the uninterrupted integrity of the continuity. There are several considerations which “requires” or “forces” Deleuze to identify himself with this concept in such a way. Nomadism or deterritoriality are concepts which he has brought in to the depth of thought. All of them are an integral part of transition, flux and continuity.

In this respect, it is obvious that the continuity brings about a problematic regarding place and time. Yet Deleuze’s intervention, in regard to the continiuty, goes beyond the categoric limits put by the conventional thought upon the relationship between the place and time: If there is a continuity, this should be experienced not only in place or time alone, but in both of them. Here it is Guattari’s fundemental proposition –an ever-flowing structure just like the blood and faeces. This activity, certainly, encloses the time as well. From that point of departure, Deleuze re-defines the relationship between the image and time.


The relationship between the image and time is a direct one. Cinematically thinking, time is the one that constructs the story. A story is told in a course of time. Or telling a story spends a definite period of time. On the other hand, the time upon which the images are laid is obtained via the motion of the images. As far as a visual level is concerned, this motion of the images employs the time, even if not activity. Also the montage of a filmic image which do not present walking, running or another human activity is time-based. In terms of the audience, even a still picture of a single face or a blank screen spends and animates the time. Here, the motion is a function of the time.

Furthermore, the motion image and the time that it spends is the milieu where the place in cinema is constructed. The place comes into being in the image and in respect to the image. Therefore, it is necessary to stress that also the place is inscribed to the time: On the cinematic level, if no image, then no place. Nonetheless, it should be underlined that this is not a geographical, but a specific-internal place. However, the cinematic time is a more complex issue, since the cinematic and real times are interpenetrated. In this context, the cinematic place is unreal, whereas the cinematic time is within the real time, in which the former uses the latter. In this sense, the cinematic time and image together correspond actually to a flux.

The image which constitutes the cinematic reality (even if it does not correspond to the reality and is made up of a completely “imageless” image) incorporates the flux. This is its ontological reality. Therefore, it may be said that the flux creates the reality in the cinematic-animated image, and this happens in a fluidity of transformation and differentiation. Or in other words: As far as the time is concerned, neither an absolutness nor changelessness is possible. The reality can appear only in this function. That is to say, the reality is unsteady and the context of the flux.

The “meaning” capacity of the works in Zeren Goktan’s exhibition can be questioned by these considerations.

All the three works in the exhibition hold technical features constituing the video image, and these features do not determine merely the form of the works, but in contrary, their body, structure, as well. They enable them to appear as “ontical” entities. According to this perspective, all the works inter-connect to each other through the time-image relationship, beyond their specific “personal” features. The works’s relations to the time is a factor pushing them out of the visuality, as well, since all of them appear within a transition based on the time.

Consequently, at the very onset, the audience gets off the reality: As soon as viewing the works, he/she detaches from the real time and enters into the filmic time which, forming a special reality, makes up ontological dimension of the work. To put it in a different way, the work on the screen does not merely depend on a visuality. The “formation” of the visuality is a variant of the filmic time. The work is formed, as the time “ages,” exhaustes and goes by. In this way, the formation of the work turns out to be the artist’s direct intervention to the time. The time, in this sense, is a founding and destructive element, or activity. This is put by a sandglass at the very entrance to the exhibition.

Therefore, the work that lends its name to the exhibition assumes a special role.

This work, the In-flux, can be considered as a sandglass. The object consists of two chambers. In each of them, there is a gigantic sand piece. The object itself is exhibited beside the sandglass at the entrance. It has a metaphorical meaning, since the sandglass is formed when the sand in one of the chambers runs out into the other. The sandglass represents the time, and implies its fluidity. There cannot be a sandglass which, when upended, stays motionless. And the equality of the amount of sand in the chambers is possible only at a single time point.

Nevertheless, there are only two sand pieces in each of the chambers of the sandglass which is the subject of the In-flux. These are equal in size and the time does not bring about a change. Two “pieces” which are ad finitum equal, do not flow due to the fact that they are larger than the hole, hence do not meld with each other, and confine the timeness in their own wholeness… The pieces, which are captured by the time in the sandglass, now capture the time for themselves.

Zeren Goktan’s video-work overstrains the reality on several levels.

Firstly, the image creates its own reality in this work. At the beginning, an image of object which is so tiny, small and narrow that it cannot be “read” and conceived is dominant. As time goes, the image becomes larger, and envelops the whole screen. At that point, another fact appears. Both two sand pieces are moving up and down in their chambers. This motion accelerates in the course of time. Yet the momentum does not bring about a resolution. They are captured there, and neither a transposition nor a flow is possible.

This is an attempt to reverse the Deleuzian time-and-place function. The time stops the sandglass. However, the Delezian time-and-place relation is still valid in another respect: the audience is sent to the filmic time and view the filmic place. Moreover, the filmic place in this work is of crucial importance; it moves in the animation of a static object-image. After all, there is this object which moves in an ever-mounting impetus for the purpose of flowing, but fails.

Whether Goktan is challanging the Deleuzian concept of flux?

In some way, yes; but in a very different sense.

In formulating his own concept of flow, Deleuze departs from some particular propositions. One of them is the concept of “image of thought,” which the conventional philosophy employs for its own speculations and questions. In the conventional philosophical structures there is a definite thought. The phenomenon is “imaged” in thought. To put it strictly, an established thought is the one which has an image in our minds. This very visuality is the reason why the thought is received as objective. The thought traces and analyses this “image,” and converts it into another “image” in the course of time. This is a sort of anatomy. The Ottoman equivalence of the word is, therefore, meaningfull: te?rih (dissection), that is ?erh etmek (to dissect). Anatomy is the dissection of the invisual and also it has an image. The image of the hand is different than its anatomical, dissected image.

Nontheless, Deleuze searches for an imageless thought, or what he looks for is a thought that cannot be imaged. He strives towards introducing a thought (without imaging it) which is transitive, fluiding, and hence, cannot be decomposed and dissected. This comes to a quite interesting conclusion: He does not put forward an alternative proposition. It is an indirect, but radical way. Deleuze is not, and suggests to be not, interested in the solutions but the problems. However, dissection and imaging is an “objectification” and concretion. To dissect and demonstrate would be a solu-tion. This is exactly what to-solve means. To solve and to dissect: obviosly, there is no Great Wall separating them. This is, maybe, to understand. Or rather, to think that it is to understand. Nevertheless, engaging in a phenomenon that cannot be dissected and imaged is to keep off a search for solution, and to engage in the problem itself. This is what understanding means in fact: not to engage in the solution but the problem. The infinity and fluidity of engaging in a problem as against the limits of understanding…

This is what Zeren Goktan’s In-flux points out.

This work concerns, foremost, the internal visual transformation of a given object. On the one hand, the work (which is presented us as well-known, concrete and objective) transforms at the visual level in a continous fluidity, and makes us to question where the reality is. And on the other hand, it stresses the deception of the picture which overlaps in our minds with that object, and hence, enables us to understand because we know it like that. This is very interesting, for we know that that image is unreal. It can be a simulation, an imagination, but not real. In straining and visualising the image, Goktan departs from an unreal phenomenon (image) and this time, makes us to question the reality of objectivity. In spite of the mental patterns which used to approach from the object to the image, now we are face to face with a new level, a doorstep which, departing from the image, questions the reality of the object.

This also brings about the following: The dissection of the image does not enlarge the limits of the meaning. In contrast, as the image of the same object transforms and is dissected in the In-flux, we loose the sense of familiarity about the object. The end of the anatomy: the end of the categorical knowledge.

On the other hand, the In-flux states precisely the point where the Deleuzian image-and-place relation comes to an end. As we have mentioned before, the cinematic place can only be made up of and maturate through the images. This place is both that of the image and the one which enables the image to come into being. Consider the filmic reality. The sequences, consecutive pictures, and the narratives depicted by them create a place. The image itself is a place. This is the basic problematic of the abstraction. Newmann and Rothko or Sol Lewitt and Soulage, and many others have examined whether the image-abstraction which does not correspond to anything is a question of place. In Goktan’s work, the dynamism of the image destructs the place. The placelessness created by the pictures’ becoming closer and further, and moving on the vertical axis, is not acquired merely through the continous fluidity. But it is a phenomenon that displays the inner dynamic of the cinematic-visual place, as well.

This can be confirmed in the Passing-1 and Passing-2.

What is seen in Passing-1 is, therefore, enigmatic. A rotten chain, laying on the sand, and its transformation into a slang. The slang is not an accidential choice. It is a creature that undergoes a metamorphose. It is born from an egg, cracks the eggshell, and adapts to the circumstances into which it is born. In its every form, the slang is about the invisuality. The reality of the slang is associated with the invisuality. What is the slang-of-now? It will metamorphose in a while. The same thing appears in front of us, within the facilities of video and as a sub-text. The rotten chain transforms into a slang and disappears after a while: the transition of the slang and chain. The alterability of the slang, the relationship of the rotten chain with the slang, the deprivability of image. All the three are connected to the invisuality of the image. It is the special facilities of video which paves the way for all those to be objectified.

Passing-2 goes a step further in respect of this question.

We are looking at a floor where the shot guns constitute the background. This floor is, certainly, a place. Yet there is this superimposed image. People descending stairs… Here, descending points to a dynamism. The image does not happen in a static, but a mobile and changeable environment. This is a reality which is pulled away from the static structure of the place. But it goes further. The people descending stairs in each sides, that is, two seperate images, intersect in the middle. Or say, they coalesce with each other. And they suddenly disappear. It is quite obvious what this correspond to: the deprivation. However, this deprivation is not absolute. Not an end, but a montage which repeats itself thanks to the fluidity of the video image is concerned. The word which is reflected on the image and implying the shotguns dissect the metaphore of the work and the image which is integrated to it: blank gun. A tool which is not as real as is seen; both gives the impression of being functional and is deprived of any function. Then, is it possible to make mention of the reality and functionality of the coalescing and disappearing images?

At this point, a further step can be attempted. Taking the circumstances mentioned above into account, perception and interpretation of the image is a question of rationalization. Image-perception-interpretation are not out of the rational. And this is a lineer time-and-place relation. Both a displaced mind and a displaced object are out of the rational, and achieve a new meaning. It is no longer the same old object; hence, it cannot be imputed with the same old meaning. All the three works in the exhibition underline this fact: in spite of the correlation of the meaning with the static one, the fluid’s irrationality which destructs the place, and displaces the object and (its) meaning. Yet, this is no more a surreality. On the contrary, it is a new state which appeared spontenously, as the real is fluid.

This new state created by three works in the In-flux exhibition objectifies another Deleuzian concept: the fold.

In defining the fold, Deleuze touches on an interesting issue, and emphasizes that the fold is different than a stone’s melting into sand. The fold is like a never-ending crumpling of a paper. In scrutinizing Leibniz’s concept of monad, he pushes the limits of the concept’s definition. Apart from the fact that the monad bears in itself the whole univers, Deleuze puts forward that every monad is the basic unit of existance. And he goes further to argue that ‘the outside is not a fixed limit but a moving matter animated by peristaltic movements.’*(1) This movement is achieved thanks to the folds and foldings, and makes up an inside. At that point, Deleuze points out that ‘they are not something other than the outside but precisely the inside of the outside.’*(2)

Objectifying Deleuze’s conception, Zeren Goktan’s Passing-1 puts this phenomenon in its true light. The slang moves peristaltically and makes up folds (albeit not just like crumpling of a paper). Henceforth, the slang animates the inside of the outside, the inside’s being the outside, in every fold and in the chain that lays as the outside. This is a milestone for the internality-externality relation, which we have mentioned above in reference to placeness. That “baroque” structure appears along with every fold of the slang, and making up a new monad at every stage, incorporates the inside and outside to each other.

This phenomenon comes on the scene in the Passing-2 in a different and more “dramatic” way. Deleuze repeats that topologically, the inside is in contact with the outside. What makes it possible is the fold. The fold does not neutrally let it go at that, but ‘brings the two into confrantation at the limit of the living present.’*(3) This is the very point where the dramatic tension of the Passing-2 appears. People are descending a stair, and just as Deleuze puts it, confrontate at the limit of the “living present.” As regards the living present, it bears the artist’s intervention. Whether the living present is cinematic time, or video recording time, or watching time is so ambigious that it becomes the objectification moment of the in-flux antagonisms we have mentioned above.

Deleuze and Guattari mentions somewhere else ‘having a body.’ *(4) This is a phenomenon which appears at the most dramatic moment of the work. Because, Deleuze argues that, departing from the monad, ‘human subject as the outside folded in' *(5) The audience witnesses bodies that are overlapping, superimposing, interpenetrating through consecutive foldings. This is at the same time the body which, melting into each other, turns out a monad, as the outside folded in. The outside twines inside. The invisuality of the body at the limit of the place… However, the Passing-2 points to the very opposite of this, as well.

And thereafter, either over again recurrence or stability in a single-time-point. As far as the relationship between the image and objectivity is concerned, going beyond this is impossible.

*(1)Gilles Deleuze, Foucault. Foreword by P. Bove. Tr. by S. Hand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988; s. 96-97.

*(3)Ibid., s. 118-19.

*(4)Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Preface by Michel Foucault. Tr. by R. Hurley, M. Serem, H.R.Lane. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 10th printing 2000.

*(5)Gilles Deleuze, Leibniz and the Baroque: The Fold. Tr. by. T. Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.