a’21 amberNetworkFestival
Art Technology Thought
March - May 2021

conceived, programmed and directed by Ekmel Ertan


a’21 amberNetworkFestival will take place between the 10th of March and 16th of May 2021 at Oyoun in Berlin and in the network nodes amberPlatform (İstanbul), Darağaç (Izmir), New Media society (Tehran), DAH Project (Shiraz), KounAktif (Casablanca), BAAB (Khartoum), Shahraban (Baalbek), Bishkek Contemporary (Bishkek) and ADEF (Cairo, Berlin) currently. All the activities will be hybrid; in various locations and online at the same time.

a’21 is taking place in a very special time as a truly decentralized and international festival. We are developing the Collaborative (Network) Curation where the network members and invited artists are curating, creating, and performing collaboratively remotely along the two-month-long festival.

a’21 places the LAB in the core of the festival where the invited participants from all network nodes collectively research, create and produce as well as curate and perform. The LAB will be the first part of the amberNetworkFestival between 10th of March and 18th of April 2021. a’21 amberNetworkFestival will continue following the LAB with an exhibition at Oyoun where the output and the documentation of the LAB will be shared publicly, besides accompanying events, till 16th of May 2021.

Artistic Director: Ekmel Ertan
Co-curators and LAB leaders: Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud

Network Nodes & Curators
amberPlatform (İstanbul, Turkey), Ebru Yetişkin; New Media Society (Tehran, Iran), Amirali Ghasemi; Darağaç (İzmir, Turkey), Cenkhan Aksoy, Ali Cem Doğan; KounAktif (Casablanca, Morocco), Youssef El Idrissi; BAAB (Khartoum, Sudan), Rajaa Shamam; D.A.H. Project (Shiraz, Iran), Mohsen Hazrati, Milad Forouzandeh; Shahraban (Baalbek, Lebanon), Hamza Chamas

a’21 conceived and executed by amberPlatform  as the continuation of amberFestival İstanbul, produced by Oyoun Berlin. Funded by the Berlin Senate’s Hauptstadtkulturfond

amber'15 Art and Technology Festival, 6-15 November 2015, santralIstanbul

When we talk about how the digital revolution has increasingly turned our lives around in the last three decades, we fix our gaze on the center stage and focus on the results. Our ways of doing things, from health to security, from education to entertainment have changed. This has made our life easier as much as it has caused complications. Nevertheless, a world where everyone is reachable anytime is a world much different from before. Mostly we admired it, got mad at it or feared it.

We have ignored the labor behind all this change and how the labor that creates the digital revolution is organized. We have disregarded the ways in which the digital revolution has transformed labor from mines to assembly lines, from homes to offices. Now that our initial fascination has ceded, the digital and the digitally transformed have made it to our daily routines. To better understand this revolution we’d like to look into its relation with labor and contextualize it beyond what is immediately visible in terms of change.

The theme of amber’15 is work and labor. Has digitalization devalued or cheapened labor? How has the relation between labor and capital changed? How widespread is insecurity with regards to work, how has unpaid labor increased? In what way has the relation between work and labor evolved? From white collar to youth who use digital tools, how has people’s attitude toward their own labor changed? Can we talk about robotic or cyborg labor? What’s the role of digital technologies in the growing unemployment, poverty and deepening class-wage gap? Have digital technologies honed the existing antagonisms? Is the reappearance of Marx’ theory of value in contemporary thought-scape an indication of a lack of change in terms of labor and exploitation?

This one-day event, which will take place at Salt Beyoğlu on 9th of November, Sunday,  presents ongoing artistic researches and some of the implementations that focus on gesture/movement based technologies extending different bodies. While new technologies extend and change the bodies we preferred to make a special emphasis on the disabilities. We call it different bodies but not disabled, since each single body has its own communication and performance capacities, which are not indeed subject of disability but divergence. Bodies’ future lays in new technologies. Technology is increasing the diversity of the bodies and blurring the borders of the body, as well as its perception.

In this day the audience is the participant. Participants will watch the presentations and discuss the topics; experience different technologies and learn and create with others along the day. All the presentations and workshops are designed for different bodies. Differently-abled people are encouraged to participate and very welcome. The technologies of body and movement in the space can only be discussed with the participation of diverse bodies.

Event curated and organized by Ekmel Ertan, realized with the participation of Robert Wechsler, Tuğçe Tuna, Şafak Uysal, Nilüfer Kozikoğlu, Paola Tognazzi, Mutlu Güngör, Ezgi Baştuğ and Jaime de Val.


13:00    “Interfaces for Body and Space”, Ekmel Ertan (Talk)
13:15     “MotionComposer:  Turning Movement into Music – for persons with and without disabilities”, Robert Wechsler (Talk)
13:30    “Introduction to the METABODY project”, Jaime de Val (Talk)
13:45    “Facilitating Technological Tools and Methods For Cerebral Palsy”, Feride Bilir (Talk)
14:00    Dance with Different Bodies + Motion Composer (Performance)
14:45    MotionComposer (MetabodyBox) (Demonstrations)
15:00    Nilüfer Kozikoğlu (Talk)
15:30    “From Movement to Form: Crystal Bodies”, Şafak Uysal (Talk)
15:45     Christal Bodies (Workshop presentation)
16:00    Nifüfer (Workshop presentation)
16:15     Wearable Dynamics (Demonstrations)
16:45    Dance with Sheldon  (Performance)
17:00    “Wearable_Dynamics”, Paola Tognazzi (Talk)
17:15     “Farklı Bedenlerle Dans”, Tuğçe Tuna (Talk)
17:30     Dance with Different Bodies + Motion Composer (Performance)
17:45     Dance with Sheldon  (Performance)

Kategorized Program

Cinema Hall
“Interfaces for Body and Space”, Ekmel Ertan (Curator, Artist, Academic – amberPlatform)
“Introduction to Metabody Project”, Jaime de Val (Reverso, Metabody project coordinator)
“MotionComposer:  Turning Movement into Music – for persons with and without disabilities”, Robert Weschler ( Choreographer, Performance artist – Palindrome)
“Farklı Bedenlerle Dans”, Tuğçe Tuna (Dance and performance artist, Choreographer, Academic – Rem Dans)
“Facilitating Technological Tools and Methods For Cerebral Palsy”Feride Bilir (PT, MSc, BT)
“From Movement to Form: Crystal Bodies”, Şafak Uysal (Architect, Choreographer, Academic)
Nilüfer Kozikoğlu (Architect)
“Wearable_Dynamics: methodology that applies the dynamics of physical movements to understand body expressivity”, Paola Tognazzi (Physical interaction designer, Choreographer)

Dance with Different Bodies + Motion Composer (Rem Dans, Palindrome)
Dance with Shaldon! (Paola Tognazzi)
Motion Composer (Robert Wechsler)

Public-Participatory Presentations:
Motion Composer (Palindrome)
Wearable Dynamics (Paola Tognazzi)
Choreographic Phrases (Tuğçe Tuna, Robert Wechsler)

Presentations of Research Workshops:
Body and Space (Nilüfer Kozikoğlu, Tuğçe Tuna)
Christal Bodies (Şafak Uysal, Mutlu Güngör, Ezgi)

1-10 November 2013, İstanbul

Smart phones, smart tickets, smart cities, smart buildings, smart living, smart economies, smart moves…

Smart abounds in the market-speak of today’s technologically sophisticated conditions. The ever-growing inflation of smartness, fostered in large part by the pervasiveness of digital technologies, hails us from all directions. Smart appears as a strategic device that qualifies all sorts of acts and objects under the hegemony of the economy-political logic of consumption, profit and control. New and ever-smarter products of all kinds pop-up regularly and one risks being left behind by not heeding the call, the constant invitation to try out and to consume the latest.

While smartness is praised and suggested as a sort of power to be possessed, foolishness becomes those moments and spaces in which we encounter with critical interrogation, creative thinking and deconstruction. We suggest foolishness as a category of thought and a tactical positioning to bring out the subversive potential of smart technologies.

We invite artworks and papers that rethink, open up and resist foolishness in this year’s festival entitled, “Did you plug it in?”

amber'12 Art and Technology Festival
9-18 November 2012
İTÜ Taşkışla Building, Çukurcuma Hamamı, Pasajist, Beyoğlu Belediyesi Gençlik Merkezi

you can download: amber12_katalog [pdf]

Artistic Director: Ekmel Ertan
Curated by Ekmel Ertan, Fatih Aydoğdu
Produced by amberPlatform / link to amber'12 web site
Identity and graphics by Fatih Aydoğdu

The decade that followed 9/11 witnessed a radical regression of communal energies, forcing us to live strictly in individual spheres; the fear and control society in the guise of a war on terror, the tendency of nation-states to impose their ideological agendas onto everyone and everything under their control and the conflicts and collaborations of a global consumerist economy that urges the rapid privatization of public goods have all taken a toll on the common values of human societies around the Globe. The commons that we need to regain entail a broad spectrum. They range from ecological unbalances, which result from the privatization of natural resources, to the 'de facto' privatization of judicial systems, which has led to the degradation of a justice that is common to all.

Meanwhile, the ever-popularizing digital media, beginning with the Internet itself as a common resource, has been a major source of inspiration in revitalizing the idea of the commons. More specifically, the capacities offered by new media have helped to re-understand that information is a 'common' as well as the right to access information.

amber'12 selects as its theme 'Paratactic Commons': Can digital commons be an alternative platform to launch a political thought whose main aim is sharing, transparency, and freedom to access information? What can we learn from free software's, copyleft movements, peer-2-peer systems, the logic of open source, and creative commons? Could the digital-commons help for the creation of another form of economy and ecology? Could humans share their common resources rather than exploit them? What kind of paratactic artistic strategies could digital commons consist of?

amber'11 Art and Technology Festival
November 2011, İstanbul
curated by Ekmel Ertan
produced by amberPlatform

Next Ecology
text by Ekmel Ertan, Fatih Aydoğdu, Zeynep Gündüz

New technologies are far more important then ever before not only as a tool but primarily as a framework. By means of new technologies and with increasing acceleration we have changed the world in which we live in: we changed nature, we changed our environments, we changed our bodies. We have created a new and global habitat, which is different from where we started. On the one hand, we cannot return to the starting point where no technology rules. On the other hand, the current situation is not sustainable neither socially nor environmentally.

We have changed our environments and ourselves, but we have not understood the change that we have caused nor have we acknowledged the overall results and effects of these changes. Today we need to reconsider all the paradigms we rely on: nature, bodies, economics, politics, environment, and communication to name a few. In sum, we need a new framework.

The abnormal natural disasters, the global social problems, the antagonism between the consumption economy and energy resources, the revolutionary movements in Middle East and many other places on Earth designate the un-sustainability of the current stand and the need for a change. Examples such as these point to one thing: we must have a new conceptualization of ecology as the environment that we live in, which does not exist without today’s technology.

Taking ecology as a conceptual framework, which entails the relationships of the natural and artificial environments of mankind, we believe that we need a new holistic ecology which internalizes the transformative power and possibilities of technology and covers all aspects of possible relations among the living and non-living surroundings, from politics to love, from environments to health, from economics to media. We call this framework Next Ecology.

With the theme title Next Ecology, amber’11 calls on artists to interpret the life forms, production and consumption patterns and politics of Next Ecology from the vantage point of arts and technology.

Exhibited Artists and Works
Dardex-Mort2Faim Art Group / Planet Of Apes
Francesco MONICO / Hybrid Constitution
Ioannis MICHALOUS / My First Time To Touch A Cloud
Jalila ESSAIDI / 2.6g 329m/s
Le Fresnoy / A Selection Of Films On Next Ecology
Linda IHAROVA / Migromat
Matthieu CHERUBINI / rep.licants.org
Miro SOARES / Sea Studies
Nurit BAR-SHAI / FUJI Spaces And Other Places
Onur YAZICIGİL / Bug İstanbul
Osman KOÇ / Doppelgänger
Ozgun KILIÇ / Microfields
Paul DESTIEU / Fade Out
Raziye KUBAT / Tree Profile
Saša SPACAL / 7K: New Life Forms
Tobias ROSENBERGER / Large Scale - The Song of the Great Promise
Wonjung SHIN / Ring ring rain

amber'10 Art and Technology Festival Exhibition November 2010, Sanat Limanı - Antrepo No:5, İstanbul

DataCity text by Nafiz Akşehirlioğlu, Ekmel Ertan

For the first time in history the World’s urban population has outnumbered its rural counterpart. Cities have become the predominant habitat of humanity. The requirements of rapidly growing cities, coupled with the contemporary technological possibilities bring about new urban reality that is data. amber’10 takes up the relationship between city and data as its festival theme.   It is no accident that the rise of statistics as a science coincided with the rise of the modern city as a social form during the industrial revolution. When statistical methods of data production and measurement coupled with reproductive techniques such as photography and printing, the modern city entered into imaginary circulation simultaneously with its double, its image. From its beginnings, the modern city emerged both as a reality and a representation that were interrelated in such a manner that it became hard to tell one from the other.   In this historical process, contemporaneous with the Enlightenment and Industrial capitalism, the ability to understand the city became conditional on processing and thinking through the data it produced. Data has become a crucial factor in urban social relations and politics.   The capacity to produce and process all kinds of data has increased tremendously with the rise of new technologies in the last three decades. Capitalist parliamentary democracy, as it exists today, demands transparency, efficiency and absolute security as the conditions of its mechanism and has at its service the wide possibilities offered by new technologies to meet these demands. This coupling brought about the strategic importance of data in today’s World. We know and define the city through the images made up of its data. The collection, storage and processing of the vast amount of data has become an everyday practice that is both visible and invisible, threatening to some and absolutely beneficial to others in a field ranging from law to ethics, human rights to health.

amber’10 takes up the relationship between city and data as its festival theme. With the theme title Datacity, amber’10 proposes to define the modern city as a data cluster in addition to however else the city form may be defined today. We call on artists to interpret the life forms, production and consumption patterns and politics of the Datacity from the vantage point of arts and technology.

Exhibited Works:

6-15 November 2009
Abud Efendi Mansion, The Basilica Cistern

download the catalog amber'09 [pdf]

Living in a technologically-mediated environment causes changes and shifts in human habits, postures and behaviors. Technologies have an impact on our perceptions; each new technology demands new practices of body and speech as well as a new comprehension of time and space. The notion of the cyborg (cybernetic organism) explores the literal and figurative integrations of the human body and technology. Being a hybrid concept Cyborg, links the organic with the non-organic and raises questions concerning human corporeality and subjectivity. In the same vein, the field of art and technology also elaborates on the transformation of human beings and addresses questions like who or what we may become as a result of our ever increasing engagement with technology. Based on recent technological developments and their incorporation in the social, cultural and political domains, amber’09 explores the consequences of exposing and augmenting our bodies with digital technologies. It aims to elaborate on the body and its multiple relations in the World, the asymmetrical structures and practices inherent to contemporary societies and the possibilities to break these asymmetries in order to achieve a free and equal society. Re-visiting and re-thinking the notion of the cyborg, amber’09 asks: Are you (un)Cyborgable?

visit the site on http://09.amberplatform.org


amber'08 catalog [pdf]

Interpassive Persona
theme text by Nafiz Akşehirli & Ekmel Ertan

Interactivity is celebrated and enjoyed for the comfort and convenience it brings into our lives, and the aesthetic and practical possibilities it opens up for all creative activity. Efficiency, speed, fluidity, a frictionless flow of things, precision of form and an infinite multiplication of virtual possessions in the digital universe come to mind. Interactive technologies re-articulate our relations to ourselves and to others.

In today's digitalizing world, we access closed and invisible systems that operate on a global scale via our network-connected personal computers. We take on an ever-increasing role in this network of relations that is itself based on interactive technology. Our bodily disposition and movement, consciously or unconsciously partakes in digital interactivity. We interact with machines and others as we interact with others through machines. The information produced as a result of this interaction takes on an independent life as data but continues to somehow represent our real self. On the other hand, the information as an independant existence, do not belong anymore to ourselves and become an active subject, which determines the limitations of our connection to the external world on our behalf.

In this brave new World, in the now and here determined by digital technologies, are we really and completely active subjects? Or do we also need to talk about an interpassive personality?

festival theme.voice and survival  (Ekmel Ertan, Nafiz Akşehirli)

Digital technologies that store, process and send all types of data efficiently and quickly are becoming crucial elements of our lives. We are happy and comfortable thanks to the tools that employ such technologies as the latter are fast becoming the determinants and signs of a good life. However, we are simultaneously living through the risks that are created and mediated by digital technologies, which are used in circuits of global finance, advertising, entertainment, health and weapons systems as well as in everyday tools such as cell phones and computers. Such technologies affect each and all of us. They articulate and redefine our ways of communication, our speech, writing, visual and aural practices and even our sensory capabilities. Increasingly for individuals and groups, institutions and even states, the capability to be heard, to have a legitimate voice has come to depend on the use of digital technologies. We all feel the need to institute a technological presence. In today’s world, we are always already present as data, sign, number, image or voice thanks to the generative capacities of digital technology. Yet, as the subject of a collectivity, we all too readily assume that we are capable of producing a voice, and hence a worthwhile presence in the scenes and spheres that matter to our lives and to our future. Rather than being a given fact; the capability to produce a voice that will embody our plight, our stance in art, thought, love or politics has become a crucial question that we all face.

In light of the above, amber’07 takes up the theme of Voice and Survival in a world where digital technology has become instrumentalized to generate the mundane as well as the sublime. What happens to Voice, in its artistic, personal, social or physical/bodily incarnations as digital technology increasingly mediates human and systems’ interrelationships? What kind of Voice do we adapt to survive as individuals and societies in and through contemporary technology as the boundaries between Art and Technology transform.

amber’07 aims to pose these and similar questions and seek possible answers.