UrbanTank, a design and thinking platform dedicated to research on people-oriented and participatory urban environments, was one of the Tandem Turkey participants. In collaboration with Meet Lab and Artopolis, both in Budapest, they have created DISAPPEAR, a story of not only disappearing in a physical place, but also somewhere between reality and fiction. Read the story and watch the video.

The basis of our collaboration was the shared interest of the three organizations in urbanism, the use of public space and the role of artistic practices generating public discourse about the actual and abstract environment we live in. The collaborative work was inspired by an existing project developed by Meetlab in Budapest, but through the study visits, we formed the final shared idea for our project and the full, process-based complex work we have achieved together.

During the study visit period in Izmir, and sorting out which potential urban site to focus on in relation to the fictional narrative we have in hand; we decided to select the historical commercial district ‘Kemeraltı’, which offered valuable diverse spatial layers revealing site-specific stories about everyday life practices. After the fruitful Kick-off Meeting in Belgrade, our teams started a regular online dialogue about the practical part of our collaboration. We soon agreed about the following tasks that we could work on independently and we have shared the progress with the partners. The UrbanTank team and Artopolis started to look for additional resources and managed to involve the Balassi Institut in Istanbul, the In SITU network and the Yasar University.

In January, Meetlab re-visited Izmir and stayed for a month in order to realize the project process together with UrbanTank. Within this period, we organized a series of talks and presentations regarding the topic of the project and art in public spaces in general with the help of Hayy Open Space and K2 Contemporary Art Gallery. Whilst Artopolis Association gave a public talk at K2 regarding the nature of artistic practices in public spaces, Meetlab and UrbanTank continued to proceed with the research process majorly taking place at Hayy Open Space located at the heart of Kemeraltı.

The process, which included various research steps realized in the form of workshops, stemmed from the dynamics of the site. While Meetlab and UrbanTank discussed the methodology for the workshop regularly, Urban Tank also developed a Toolkit for the students that we could use in the Field Research part of our project. We were reaching out to students and young professionals from architecture, film, urban planning, graphic design, game design and literature through an open call and a great number of applicants agreed to take part in the month-long process of implementing our project in Izmir.

More than 15 participants took part in the interdisciplinary field research in the area of Kemeraltı and a writing team of 5, and a film team of another 5 members formed soon afterwards. The workshop schedule consisted of independent and small group sessions during the weekdays and presentation of the progress for the whole group on the weekends.

In 4 short weeks with the help of the workshop participants, whom we referred to as co-producers and a great informal network within the Izmir cultural and university community, we created a complex augmented audio narrative in a mobile phone application, a booklet and an experimental film.

The outcome of the project was launched through a public event at Hayy Open Space, where local media and hundreds of people were invited. At the launch event, the project was presented with a public talk, an exhibition, and the working application which will stay active forever.

The collaboration with Artopolis, UrbanTank and Meetlab was not only extremely fruitful judging by the great number of actual project outcomes, but by the experience of working together with more than twenty local students, artists, and professionals.

The project continues to take place following the Tandem Turkey programme. We organized a project exhibition and planned a panel discussion with the three collaborating partners in Budapest in the context of the “Window to the Bartók” festival at the end of May 2019. The project was also presented at a “User Experience Meet-Up” in April, and we have been invited to a similar meet up for another public talk at Ankara in July.

We are planning future exhibitions and presentations at the Balassi Institut in Istanbul and at the Izmir Design Week taking place in October. Moreover it is important to state that the outcomes of the project are not “only” the audio walk, the film and the booklet, but rather a working method itself, which can be adapted in the future to other contexts and locations in transition. This is why the collaborating partners are working closely together to elaborate on the methodology and the conceptual background of the project in a book format which we want to publish later this year.