As part of my PhD research (2008-2013), I have been looking at ways to design biological systems to raise questions that lie outside the interests of the sciences and engineering. I have designed experimental living artifacts--cellular constructs, modified organisms, and biological hardware--to demonstrate what will it mean to live in a society with biological design, when designed organisms will increasingly become part of our daily lives and shape our aesthetic, social and cultural values. I have designed a microbial perfumery that can demonstrate how genetically modified bacteria can be used synthesize smell with different colors. The Oilwell (2013) is the prototype of a do-it-yourself learning and fabrication machine that can visualize the different stages of a bacterial transformation, incubation and protein synthesis.
These experimental artifacts are created and documented in laboratory settings and used part of may lectures, publications and teaching.
Biosynthesis and The Future of Sandalwood
SymbioticA (Perth/ Australia, 2012)
Telhan Orkan, "Discursive Methods in Synthetic Biological Design" in the proceedings of Design Research Society Conference (DRS 2012), Bangkok, Thailand. 2012.
United Colors of Dissent (UCoD, 2013 - http://ucod.org) is a data-driven performance designed for live public interaction using mobile phones and public displays. Participants collectively respond to a series of questions in their preferred language using a web-based voting interface running on their mobile phones. At every question, UCoD builds real-time graphics based on the answers and features them both on the phones and the displays. The performance intends to capture the linguistic and socio-cultural profile of different communities in urban environments by creating real-time visualizations that can map the prejudices, assumptions, and biases we may have about each other. UCoD is commissioned by “Connecting Cities,” a network aiming to build up a connected infrastructure of media facades, urban screens and projection sites to circulate artistic and social content.
United Colors of Dissent is a collaborative project with Mahir M. Yavuz.
A 5 min. documentary video of the project can be watched here:
Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria, 2013
Videospread Marseille, Marseilles, France, 2013
Amber Festival, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013
"The Eventual" combines traditional silk-screening with synthetic biology. It is designed as a stand-alone microbial battery that uses bacteria to grow electricity to power up an image printed with electroluminescent inks. Feasting on rich soil, Geobacter bacteria forms a biofilm on the electrodes of the battery to produce electricity. As electricity becomes available, it begins to power the printed orb image, causing it to flicker and glow.
Excerpts below are from Molly Petrilla's write up at The Penn Gazette: Art for the Future
"In designing the piece, Telhan says he and Neff strove for a “noir” look and feel. “We wanted an object you could place inside the Blade Runner house or the Minority Report house,” he adds. “We played around with different images, the look and feel of the glass container, how much dirt and the different ingredients in the dirt—it’s quite a bit more complex than it looks.”
Telhan began exploring synthetic biology—a field that fuses biotechnology with design, computation and electronics—when he came to Penn in 2010. “It’s a sub-field that is founded by computer scientists and engineers and designers,” he says. “They’re not necessarily interested in making medicine or human-related research, but rather in using biology as a way of investigating what other things we can do with living systems in relation to human needs, desires and wants."
Read more about the piece from Adam Clark Estes' write-up at Gizmodo.
The Road of Cones: The Eviction of Social Memory (2013) is set up as a reminder for the so-called transformations in public memory of Turkey. The structures translate the transient and fluid nature of events through data captured from online media and turn them layer by layer into conic form. Instead of taking the form of didactic visualizations, they feature streams of data; an abundance of information that is to be experienced as a symbolic embodiment. Walking through the road of cones, the audience witnesses an homage to all histories of eviction in these ancient lands; from the roads that are furnished with statues that stand for once ‘victorious kings’ to public spaces and monuments that glorify the ethnic, nationalistic, and religious cleansing projects that handed over power from one class to another. The cones seek to be read as discursive depictions of complex realities rather than work as abstract mapping, diagramming, and interpretation schemes which promise to reveal a truth, either in the servitude of the evicted or the evictor.
The Road of Cones is a collaborative project with Mahir M. Yavuz.
13th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013
Emancipati Ensemble (2013) is an installation that features readers that address the needs of a more discursive religious pedagogy. These readers connect with each other and form “reading ensembles” among two to four children. The screens of the tablets make a shared reading surface and let children read, watch, and learn together. The dual-tablet interface presents information with alternative points of view by using custom content analysis software. Children get exposed to perspectives from multiple points of view that span across different religions, belief systems, orthodox, secular, scientific or agnostic opinions at the same time. Thus, children not only can introduce their own preferences and styles of learning by picking from a multitude of sources but also share with each other what they individually encounter during their studies.
New Museum, New York, NY, 2013
Limewarf Gallery, London, UK, 2013
The Emancipati Reader (2012) is a discursive reading instrument that addresses the needs of progressive religious practitioners who are willing to adopt new styles of learning to diversify their sources of knowledge. As users research their topic of interest using the left screen of a dual-tablet interface, the Reader dynamically prepares a number of adversarial “point of views” related to the content and presents them on the right screen. The instrument not only intends to assure that the subject is studied in a hyper-linked, socially-networked, and distributed form meshed with data, images, and sound, but that the subject is also presented with opposing arguments that are prepared with custom filtering and content-matching software. Through a comparative study, the Emancipati users rely on confronting first with others’ way of looking at the world to form an opinion; exercise a Kantian form of ‘judgment,’ where the need for exchange with the opposing argument is necessary to become aware of one’s own values, both for upholding a position or taking on others.’
1st Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, 2012
We are living at times where everyone remembers and forgets at the same time. Tapes, bluffs, lies, or scandals circulate in the public consciousness only briefly either to manufacture consent and make us take sides, or to disguise intricate political agendas. But ultimately nothing persists. It turns out that what is being watched, read, or mediated is often not so important. The media news don’t sediment but rather cast shadows on memories that make up an audience—a public—of believers, learners and ultimately forgetters. The Shadow Arithmetic investigates the gaze of this invisible public and examines how it forms itself out of the desire to see the forbidden, secret, scandalous, and the immoral. The videos on display are footages from recent memories manufactured by the Turkish media. They are obtained from online sources and permanently fixed into consciousness to function as reminders of this public, which not only lives before but also behind the screens. Videos, images, words, opinions add up; some reinforce some negate another, but this arithmetic mostly matters as a logic of substitution and a desire to access the forbidden: for a public to be able to come into being not from roots, kinship, land or language but through a shared yearning for amnesia.
March 21 - April 20, METUArt 15, Ankara, Turkey, 2014.
eCrafting Circles (2013) integrates fine arts, design, engineering and technology into science education. The project intends to form informal learning and making collectives from which can share new designs using electronic textiles and printed electronics. The project offers a new model for public science events that can serve disadvantaged groups inside and outside of schools and science museums and ultimately intends to build an online community that can scale up locally and nationwide. Our design making & sharing portal ecrafting.org is launched on February 2014 for initial testing.
eCrafting Circles is a collaborative project with Dr. Yasmin Kafai (Penn Graduate School of Education) and Dr. Karen Elinich (from the Franklin Institute) and is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1238172.
This two-day workshop was called "Free City" and explored alternative models of learning using mobile media and paper-based interfaces.
In the first day, participants were introduced to new applications of printed electronics in critical cartography, citizen science, and civic media and in the second day, asked to map the free and informal economy of New York using a custom printed interface and a mobile video sharing platform.
The workshop was supported by Matt Neff and Kate Clayton from the University of Pennsylvania and done in collaboration with Federico Casalegno and researchers from the MIT Mobile Experience Laboratory.
Learning with Mobile x Printed Media, two-day workshop at Mobility Shifts Conference at New School, New York (October 10-11, 2011)
'Dust Serenade' is a reenactment of an acoustic experiment done by German physicist August Kundt. Inspired by the Chladni's famous sand figures visualizing sound waves in solid materials, Kundt devised an experiment for visualizing longitudinal sound waves through fine lycopodium dust; a setup that would allow him to measure the speed of sound in different gases.
Kundt was a strong believer in experimental methods over purely theoretical inquiry in a time when the disciplines of theoretical and experimental physics started to diverge.
'Dust Serenade' intends to remind us the materiality of sound. Tubes filled with scraps of words and letters--cut-up theory--interact with sound waves and turn into figures of dust. Here, visitors can modulate the frequency of the sound emitted by moving a rod and create different harmonic sound effects. As sound waves figure, refigure, and disfigure the text, we invite visitors to rethink about the tension between their theorical knowlegde and the sensory experience.
Dust Serenade is one of a series of interactive sound projects that enable visitors to experience the physical aspects of sound, presence, and atmosphere. Works in the series have been shown at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Zagreb, Istanbul and São Paulo.
Dust Serenade is a collaboration with Markus Decker and Dietmar Offenhuber.
Laboratoria: Art & Science Space, Moscow, 2012
M.I.T. Museum - Emerging Technologies Gallery, Cambridge, MA, 2010
Echologue is a new type of public media that functions as a social catalyst in public spaces and urban environments. It is made of a double-sided foldable display architecture that can be customized for individual or public interaction. By bending the tiles into different geometries, users can reverse the flow of the graphics and provide input for the content.
Echologue is used as public interface for sensing and displaying socio-cultural characteristics of a place based on its sonic features. It is built to reflect its surroundings like a smart mirror, highlight the salient details and patterns in the environment and contribute to our understanding of the perception of social places. This interface senses ambient sound, records deliberate user input and displays a visualization of the activity in that space as its output. The design explores the utility of sound for envisioning new social, cultural and entertainment uses of public places and help us shape our relationships with each other with new social interfaces embedded in urban settings.
Pixelspaces 07 *OnField*, Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria, September 5-11, 2007.
Telhan, Orkan. "Materials with Computational Experience and Style." To appear in Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, A Special Issue on Material Computing, Forthcoming 2010.
The Cloud (2008) is an interactive public sculpture that responds to human interaction. It can display graphics, animation and video on its three-dimensional surface. It expresses context awareness using hundreds of sensors and over 15,000 individually addressable optical fibers and respond to the audience by visual or audio output. Constructed of carbon glass, the Cloud encourages visitors to touch and interact with information in new ways, manifesting emotions and behavior through sound and a dichotomy of luminescence and darkness.
The Cloud is developed at the MIT Mobile Experience Lab and commissioned by Pitti Immagine to be installed at Fortezza da Basso, Florence.
Concept and interaction design.
Lead software and hardware designer.
Pitti Uomo 2008, June 18-22, Florence.
Locast (2009) is a platform for sharing and discovering location-based user-generated videos and production quality multimedia content provided by RAI TV.
It consists of a combination of mobile and wearable computing elements supported by a distributed Web application. Content gathered from RAI TV’s historical archives and user-generated media are linked to physical locations in Venice in order to be accessible to all those visiting the space.
Specific Project Role
Wearable design lead.
Wearable software, hardware and product design
with John Luciani and Guz Gutman.
July 3-10, 2009, Venice.
Ride.link (2008) is a sustainable ride-sharing system that utilizes bracelets, mobile phones and a web infrastructure to create a peer-to-peer trust network.
The system, comprised of social networking, reputation management and referral systems makes it possible to coordinate the matching of drivers and passengers with preferences entered online in user profiles. An alcohol sensor is built into a wearable bracelet, which can communicate with the system.
At the end of a night out partying and drinking with friends a Ridelink user can breathe into their breathalyzer bracelet to find out if it is unsafe for them to drive. Using a link to their mobile phone, the system can then help the user find a ride with a driver they trust. The system tracks successful ride shares and provides incentives to participants accordingly. Ridelink not only promotes responsible alcohol consumption, it encourages social sustainability by allowing users to self-organize into their own ride-share pools.
The prototypes were tested Brescia in December 2008 and January 2009 with 50 bracelets.
Ride.link is developed at the MIT Mobile Experience Lab.
Specific Project Role
Design Lead (concept, interaction design and bracelet development).