ARKHE : A Digital Alchemy Experience - CODAworx

ARKHE : A Digital Alchemy Experience

Submitted by DECOL Media Arts Studio

Client: Siemens Home Turkiye , Alibaba Design Week, China Beijing Public Art, Culture Istanbul (Istanbul Municipality)

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $90,000

Project Team

Project Management

Nebi Cihan Çankaya

DECOL New Media Studio

Interaction Artist

Ahmet Said Kaplan

DECOL New Media Studio

Creative Coder

Hakan Gündüz

DECOL New Media Studio

Art Director

Candaş Şişman

Nohlab Studio

Art Direction

Deniz Kader

Nohlab Studio

Studio Manager

Yasemen Birhekimoğlu

Nohlab Studio

Programming Support

Genco Levi

DECOL New Media Studio

Audio Design

Gokalp Kanatsız

Freelance

Overview

Arkhe is a multi-sensory experience that involves alchemy and engages with the principles of nature’s basic elements. Throughout history, humans have sought to understand and control these elements for their own benefit. Alchemy represents a transition between the inner transformation of humans and the material transformation derived from scientific experimentation. Newton’s attempts to merge alchemy with mechanics inspire this artwork, which combines digital technology with alchemy to demonstrate human control over nature through computer-machine interaction.

The ARKHE experience allows users to control the essence of matter through sensor systems, enabling them to interact with other elements and experience their transformation, motion, and harmony. The experience is customizable across different dimensions, including screen or projector options, as well as mirrors. For instance, it can be presented in a 9*3*2 m format at Contemporary Istanbul, a 6m*3m*2m format at the Beijing Public Art Festival’s Openair event, a 12*9*5 m format at China Design Week, or a 9*3*5 m immersive format at Istanbul Design Week.

Goals

Our main objective was to create interactive and captivating experiences that abstract the Siemens Home products innovations. As a sponsor of the Plug-In section in the Contemporary Istanbul fair, Siemens aimed to create a standout piece of media art. Our team developed the concept that Siemens' product creation revolves around controlling the fundamental elements - fire for the kitchen, water for cleaning, and air for cooling. The main idea of the project was to explore ways of controlling elements and experimenting with transforming them into new outputs. Our aim was to incorporate both visual and audio controls to enhance the interactive experience.

Process

The Plug-in section of the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair was curated by Esra Ozkan with the theme of Raw Material. As a result, we were introduced to Siemens's public relations team, who briefed us on their innovative home products. The DECOL & Nohlab team collaborated to conceptualize how we could abstract the elements of innovation. Hakan Gündüz & Ahmet Said Kaplan, artists in DECOL, programmed the visual representations of the three main elements while NOHLAB created the UI experience for the first installation. The construction designed the Arkhe representation for each occasion by DECOL or NOHLAB, according to the new version of the idea being represented. Gökalp Kanatsız created the audio design, and Ahmet Kaplan mapped the audio samples to the interaction system. The project was invited to China Design Week by Output Media Art Agency, and the team programmed the interaction method from the touch screen to the gesture control sensor system and the visual system. The installation was created by DECOL and Nohlab and exhibited at various art events, including the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, the China Design Week, the Istanbul Design Week, the Beijing Public Art Festival, and the Ace Of Mice Event twice. It will be recreated for the 2024 Hamburg Port De Lumieres.

Additional Information

Arkhe is a constantly evolving installation that adapts its dimensions, interaction methods, and visual output to suit the project space. Initially, it was designed as a semi-immersive experience featuring a projection screen on one wall and a mirror-based setup on the side walls. Users could interact with the artwork via touch screens hidden inside reflective boxes, exploring different parameters of elemental physics. In the second installation, the interaction pad remained, but the visual technique shifted to a screen-based installation, with each interaction station featuring its own sound-reactive composition. Both the visual and sound programming systems were highly complex. When commissioned for The China Design Week, we transformed the interaction system into a non-touch, leap motion control system, allowing visitors to interact with the installation as if they were wizards. We also reconstructed the system with two screens, two computers, and a sound structure, as well as doubled mirrors on the ceiling and floors. This transformed the semi-immersive experience into a fully immersive one.