11.05.2014

Slanted 24 Istanbul

I have an story in issue #24 of Slanted, an issue devoted entirely to Istanbul, Turkey.

Slanted 24 Ian Lynam

Istanbul – the city on the Bosphorus – is famous for its countless minarets, magnificent palaces, colorful markets and traders, seagulls and stray cats. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that unites two continents. Traditional crafts collide with a young and blossoming art and design scene, which is slowly changing the face and image of the city.

Slanted takes a close-up look at contemporary design work and all the tumultuous developments in this cultural melting pot city balanced between the Orient and the Occident. On their one-week-trip the Slanted team met 15 design studios and produced comprehensive studio portraits which provide a vivid and up-to-the-minute picture of the scene. Thanks to Augmented Reality and the Junaio app, readers can easily watch embedded videos of the Istanbul turu on mobile devices.

The story I contributed is called “The Martyrdom of Ivram Islander” and is the tale of the future of a world where both humankind and graphic design education are in stasis—a form of suspended animation that pervades culture as much as is representative of it. The story is part graphic design criticism and part science fiction.

An excerpt:

Evrim Aslaner was listening to a collection of murky live recordings of a seminal, late-1980s hardcore band from the American Midwest via headphones on the crosstown train. Some songs were clearer than others, though the differentiation was marginal at best. It was obvious that none of the recordings utilized the mixing boards at the VFW Halls and crappy, tiny venues where they were recorded—perhaps just a handheld tape recorder, or on the more clear ones, a condenser mic, fed into a tape recorder precariously situated in the back of whatever club a fledgling promoter had happened to acquire for the night, 130 years ago and on the other side of the world.

The sound itself was a vaguely polyrhythmic, distorted dirge — all low-end rumble with the occasional Skexis-like feedback squeal overriding momentarily. The vocals—a muffled, staccato Chewbacca-esque cadenced war rant — were delivered unintelligibly, though with the mealy mouthed venom of so many young men of that bygone age that Evrim was currently fascinated with. The only clearly identifiable instrument was the reverberating crash cymbal, the rest was reduced to a two-minute-long semaphore-like aural wet fart of dissonance and rumble.

Evrim’s immersion in the dense music was sharply interrupted by a figure entering the hovertram at the Bestiktas Square stop. Anyone at all riding the hovertram was an anomaly these days. Same with the library. Ditto for the food vendroid stands. The last of the humans, still venturing out-of-doors, were trickling out. Good weather, civic events, “live” music, none of these drew more than a handful of malcontents anymore. That being said, Evrim was continually surprised that the city’s hovertram continued to run—one of the last remaining symbols of the final administration’s promise that auto-piloted public transport would run 24 hours a day for the rest of eternity, with no need for cleaning, maintenance or repairs. He was glad it hadn’t stopped; without it, he’d be forced to sullenly walk halfway across Istanbul to the library. 

This was the third time that Halil Ergün’s facsimile had gotten on the same train as Evrim. It was weird. When the previous administration had deployed its convoy of cyborg replications of movie stars, television personalities, and other historical figures of note, they were wildly popular with the then-ambulatory populace for a few months, but quickly fell from prominence. When members of the human public asked the replicas of the stars about their inner feelings, the cyborgs would quip something nonsensical or re-quote a well-known snippet of history. It became obvious that their personalities were merely cross-indexed databases of suggested behaviors, based on their media personas, not the original stars’ true personalities. It didn’t help that their “faces” were internally projected in a Tony Oursler-esque fashion within their ovoid heads much, either. Real people found that they had little to gain from the simulacra, most already being innately familiar with retro culture due to telechip implants. Otaku-like super-fans were able to stump the cyborgs by grilling them with intense amounts of trivia and barrages of detailed questions about covert activities of the stars’ lives that occurred during their original, wholly organic incarnations.