It makes one both inspired and a little envious when you see people doing exactly what they want in life. So determined, so talented, so full of creativity that it’s almost infectious. Bİ’ŞEYLER is made up of a duo, Ece Yılmaz and Gökhan Okuyucu, who exude a similar feeling, making it inevitable for us to stay away…
You know those books that explain a subject in the simplest manner called “xxx for Dummies”? Could you explain what you do to those who don’t know anything about it?
Ece: I don’t know if it’s the simplest way but we can say that we work in New Media Arts.
Gökhan: And that is not even an answer we can get away with. We haven’t even been able to explain our job to our relatives. On the other hand, we find ourselves frequently talking about this subject, interpreting it.
What is “new media,” what do we do exactly?
Ece: There are many people who work on new media and comtemplate on different subjects. To me it’s better to try to explain the situation rather than what we do exactly. What we call new media is actually not that new. There are examples in the 70’s and 60’s. Complete works, first experiments of today’s technological toys. We can say that New Media is made up of the intersection of technology and art. Well, science can also be a part of this and when that happens, it’s the best.
Gökhan: Throughout history, creative brains worked to experience new materials, to exhibit new production and genres. I think what we do is not different than that. Materials change/ develop, and curious people use them easily due to the advancement of the internet and digital technology. These provide a new approach to this sector. What we try to do is to narrate our visual world and ideas using technology in this world.
There aren’t too many people who work in this field in Turkey. What is your story in this field?
Gökhan: This was sort of a beginning. We both wanted to try new things. We also had the means to be in this field because of the infrastructure and relations we had already built. But to start on your own is difficult, and staying true to only your own style is boring. That’s to say we both needed a companion. After we met, the rest followed rapidly.
When we receive a brief, we turn it into something we like. We try not to see it as an obligation, but as a new experience for the team throughout each phase.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Which studios and who do you follow?
Ece: We all have different skills in the office and we constantly share our inspirations from our own work of field . There are so many names… But Gökhan and I, we both like Adrian M/Claire B. Apart from them I love Mediated Matter because they make projects inspired by nature and biology. Dimitris Papaioannou is one of the names I’m curious about and want to meet. Studios depend on project-based inspirations…
Gökhan: For me, it’s very difficult to answer this question. I am focused on works rather than people. Sometimes it’s a painting, sometimes it’s a prodcut. I allow myself a lot of time in front of the computer during the day. I follow certain websites. It’s almost impossible to miss out on a good work on Vimeo. Oh, I might also be one of those who use Pinterest a lot. If you look at my boards, there are many irrelevant topics but all are visuals I pinned for one specific reason.
Ece: There are great inspirations from Turkey as well. Refik Anadol is one of them, his works are like his signature. I think he is a good example for newbies. I should also add Mehmet Kızılay and Studio Kraken. Both his projects and character puts him on my “I wish we could work on a project together” list.
Of course each project is different. But can you tell us the process behind a project?
Gökhan: Here the process differs between our own projects and those we construct according to briefs. Our projects – which we will begin to realize more of- begin with some idea from someone or something they want to try. After thinking it through we talk about how to handle it and how to proceed with it. If we are unable to find a genre for it therefore sell the idea, we either sponsor organizations or present the file for relevant events.
Ece: When we receive a brief, we turn it into something we like. We try not to see it as an obligation, but as a new experience for the team throughout each phase. Mostly we create the concept after the brief arrives. There is always a story behind what we do, whether it is something we created or something that is obvious. Then we find out how to narrate it. Whether to use visuals or involve other disciplines, what new technology we can use and what kind of an effect we want etc. Since this process is very important to use and are prepared from A to Z, our clients usually trust us and leave the rest in our hands. This way it no longer feels like business and switches to a more exciting path… We also like to challenge ourselves. If the other party is open to new ideas, we present what we want to try. Next month we have a laser performance for one of our projects. As a whole team, we are excited about playing with a new toy.
What’s the biggest challenge in your work?
Ece: Copyright issues. We see a lot of our projects here and there. Or hear about people talking about them as if it’s their own idea.
Gökhan: Not being open to new ideas. While you pitch your work, you immediately feel a sense of hierarchy. They don’t know what their superior would like so they don’t want to be involved in a “risky” project. But they ignore the fact that the boss might already be bored of those ideas that are wildly common. It can be difficult to break the shell.
What’s the most memorable success story from your firm?
Ece: I think our biggest success story is to not see Bİ’ŞEYLER as a firm. We feel like we are a bunch of people hanging out under the same roof.
You approach art from an uncommon perspective, challenging the imagination. It’s almost like childhood dreams. How did your childhood influence your production?
Ece: I was a very greedy kid. I would join clubs and teams to ditch class. The chorus, bands, theatre club, dance, basketball, painting, school events etc. and the remaining time I would be in classes. Thankfully my mother didn’t say much, I guess I still feed from that. I haven’t lost my appetite. I want to jump right into everything, and I actually do…
Gökhan: I’ve done so many different projects. I’m a good listener so I always meet new people and see things in a different perspective. All these data you collect throughout your life are really important in the process of figuring out what you want. I think our experiences, dreams and desires are very important. I continue to build on new experiences as I go along.
You do projects for different fields; how does your process of creation change for fashion, automotive, dance and such?
Ece: We try to do everything necessary for the concept we’ve created. Sometimes we go to classical storytelling, which is when we need a person to use. Including dance in a project like that makes it fun and it creates new challenges for us. Sometimes we focus on a form or an emotion. Then, we like to leave the person face to face with the work itself without interruptions or distractions. Of course there is a technological side and a phase of determining how to go about them. Here the budget determines how high we can fly.
We have to ask, why “Bİ’ŞEYLER” [“Somethin’”]?
Ece: It’s actually one of the most common words. “I wanna do SOMETHIN’”, “I wanna eat SOMETHIN’”, “The client wants SOMETHIN’ different this year”, “We need SOMETHIN’ more dynamic.” We never know what these SOMETHIN’gs are, yet we eventually always find it out.
You never know what we’ll do. That’s why we said “Let’s do SOMETHIN’!”