L.A.’s expanding art scene has no center and no rules. Hailing from Istanbul with a degree in architecture from Vienna, Ömer Pekin seems to appreciate the “L.A. touch” influencing his creative process.
Can you briefly describe what you do?
I create imagery to explore digitally enhanced architectural compositions as art. Through using softwares I develop, I aim to define a visual practice that evolves between art and architecture, creating a unique form each time.
My works mimic analog abstract painting techniques by giving digital sources a pseudo materiality. Questioning the relationship between physical qualities and the digital output, I aim to create various realities, each carrying a distinct aesthetic in terms of form and pattern.
How did you get here as an architect from the “Akademie” in Vienna? In what direction has your practice evolved in the past years?
I was introduced to architecture at a very young age in Istanbul. As a child, I spent a lot of time in different creative environments, where I started interacting with computers. Engaging with various programs and experiencing the beauty of digital creative process triggered a thirst in me to discover more about digital tools. With this motivation, I started developing my own softwares, which established my “one of a kind” kind visual systems. Within my images, I started seeking for constructive qualities – integral parts that are giving the digital a pseudo-physical trait. From there on I started creating new digital compositions that build upon analog painterly effects.
I feel like my works are becoming more and more abstract, while embracing a distinct aesthetic that used to exist in a subtler way in my earlier works. I am continuously experimenting with objects, while leaning towards an act of relinquishing reality to grasp the essence of the objects’ existence. More and more, I find myself creating shapes that get almost dissolved in a vibrant-colored composition. I can say that the graduate education I received at Sci-Arc has influenced me to “let go.” (laughs)
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
Los Angeles has a vibrant scene — like the colors I use!
There is an eclectic community here that keeps on growing with the addition of great artists and makers from all around the world, which paves the way for all of us to witness more exciting stuff every day. I love the diversity in art that is present in L.A. I think it is highly influential.
Maybe due to structural issues, traffic and traveling distances, the art scene is shaping itself around event-based occasions, rather than a more traditional, European scene where walking in and out of galleries on your way home from work is a daily activity.
I also believe that the L.A. art scene has a big sub-community of people who are interested in digital as medium. Have you tried virtual reality? You must.
“Los Angeles has a vibrant scene — like the colors I use!”
In your opinion, what does digital art mean in contemporary culture?
Looking at it from an L.A. perspective, I can say that the term “digital art” is being quite overused. With the extensive amount of technology oriented creative start-ups in the digital realm and their players who can’t really define themselves as artists but make some sort of art, I often find myself asking these questions: What is “digital art” anyway? What makes an art piece “digital”? What makes a digital creation “art”? Is it the production of it? Is it how we view it? Is virtual reality more “digital” or “art” than, let’s say, a digital painting? When is a digital piece considered as art?
When I look up the hashtag #digitalart on social media, I realize that the defining range is substantially big. Comprised of platforms used by almost every single one of us, social media is telling us that we are confused about the term “digital art,” as the term gets more and more vague every day.
Some residencies, that’s for sure.
For the sake of my practice, I know that I want to continue pushing my limits of using technology. Technology is definitely an endless river, and I want to swim in it as much as I can. In that sense, I am quite sure that VR will be my next area to explore. As doing so, I wish to develop the material qualities of my practice in a 3D world, which will eventually–and hopefully–lead me to build a solid bridge between digital-painterly effects and 3D works (digital sculptures).
Röportaj / Interview: Selin Çamlı