Although we admire the historical texture of Istanbul, we all agree that the city is being transformed due to new formations. Our astonishment after seeing Yener Torun’s work on his Instagram account @cimkedi is due to this reason. Torun, who is an architect and a photographer, goes for a treasure hunt around the city and captures colorful, minimalistic buildings that he comes across, and the vibrant results has people from all around the world talking.
As someone who is from outside of Istanbul, you photograph places that even locals aren’t aware of. How did your Instagram project emerge? How did you come across your first discoveries?
Actually it didn’t happen spontaneously… It came to this point in the course of approximately one year. But since the beginning, the idea of dealing with peculiar, unfamiliar and unknown parts of the city was in my plans. If you consider what comes to your mind when somebody says ‘’a photo of Istanbul’’, you will understand what I mean: the Bosphorus views, magnificent historical buildings, old streets, fishermen, animals on the street… Although there are beautiful examples of these pictures, they create a one-dimensional feeling of Istanbul because of their common approach to the city. However, there are many other facets of Istanbul. First I was photographing colourful details of architecture. With time, I started to combine minimalism with street photography. I began to capture the moments of colours and modern lines interacting with everyday life and sights from the city. Lately my work has been more personal and profound; I started to build stories with my pictures and sometimes I abstract architectural elements to emphasize their other functions. My first discoveries began around industrial sites. Then I moved on to newly developing areas.
“A lot of the titles of my pictures get their names from lyrics or song titles. Sometimes, when I’m listening to a song, I tell myself to take a picture that reflects these lyrics.”
You take your pictures in areas such as Kartal and Bağcılar, which are considered outer areas. Do you come across colourful architecture more in these developing areas?
I chose to stay away from central parts of Istanbul since the day I started. I mean, even before I had what one would call “my style” it has been a conscious choice of mine. The simplicity, geometry and colours that I look for, I find a lot easier in these regions. This is very natural, because contemporary buildings are simpler and colour usage is more common in these buildings.
“I began to capture the moments of colours and modern lines interacting with everyday life and sights from the city.”
You spend a lot of time in these neighbourhoods. What have been your observations so far, how is life different?
Life is very stable in these neighbourhoods. Actually there is no sense of city in general. This is pretty sad because new areas in Istanbul have no significant characteristics. Really, there is a boring development happening that has no identity.
What kind of equipment do you use to take pictures with? Do you consider sharing them on media channels other than Instagram? What about opening an exhibition?
Almost a year ago, I used to take photos with my smart phone. But since last March, I started using a camera for some professional work. I do not take any photos with a phone anymore. Regarding an exhibition, I started making new contacts but honestly there is nothing set in stone as of now. I would love to.
You are also an architect. Can you tell us about exciting upcoming projects?
I actually cannot think of an exciting project. I can’t event say that I like most of the buildings I photograph. Although many projects are well planned, they don’t integrate with the city so they become dysfunctional for me.
If I have to name one, I can say Santralistanbul. This campus has changed and developed its location positively and it’s a well-planned space. The best part is that it does not only serve students, but everyone in general. It was even hosting music festivals until a few years ago if you remember. When I feel a need to breathe, this place is my first stop. Some weekends, I sit at the cafés in Santral and edit photos for hours. Also I feel a connection to it as I’ve worked briefly on the project of this place.
So far the most exciting project to be part of has been the Marmaray project. We gave various services to this project with my former company and it was a very important experience for me to be a part of; such a big and significant project for Istanbul.
As an architect, what are your favourite buildings in Istanbul? How would you interpret the city?
Actually like almost everyone else, I also like the historical regions of Istanbul. I mean, I don’t really care for new structures. As I said before, new structures don’t mean much to me unless they contribute to the city. If urban planning is not done right and these new buildings are not designed according to the principles of urban planning, I guess my opinion on this is not going to change much.
Your photos remind us of pop-art works. How do you get inspired from the art world?
Primarily I can’t say that I am influenced by any movement other than minimalism. Also I really don’t have the background to speak on art movements. But simplicity and subject- focus in minimalism are the main elements for me. I think the similarity with Pop art is the vivid colours. Other than that it’s not a movement that influenced me directly or consciously.
Whether it’s spotted or not, I do get a lot of inspiration from the elements of popular culture when I form compositions. This even reflects on the titles of the photos. I am also in the works of starting a new series where the element of popular culture remains at the forefront. I guess in this sense, one can make a connection with Pop-art and my pictures.
Other than that, music really inspires me. Music is a very important part of my life and I formed many compositions inspired by the songs I like. A lot of the titles of my pictures get their names from lyrics or song titles. Sometimes, when I’m listening to a song, I tell myself to take pictures that reflect the lyrics. And sometimes I realize a photo I captured resembles a song or its lyrics.
How would you evaluate the future of Istanbul’s architecture?
Due to my excursions circling around photographing, especially in Istanbul and in other cities I visited, I had the chance to go to many regions where new buildings are the majority and unfortunately the situation is not looking pleasant. As if this uncontrolled structuring and growth doesn’t create a lot of economical, ecological, and social problems, these buildings without any identity or quality pushes one to be more hopeless on the subject. A significant part of the structures I photograph also got their shares of this architectural design without identity. Of course, since I display the parts that grab my attention rather than the whole building, these might not be recognized by the audience.