Balca Arda’s artistic quests concentrate on areas such as illustration, character design, comics, anime and video. Yet her technique underlines their relation to painting, intensely sensed by the viewer. Her artwork titled Indirect, composed in comics format but in a highly painterly aesthetic approach, focuses on how the social media and the images shared in mass via smartphones transform and render life and, consequently, artistic experience virtual. The meaning of social realm is at the center of Arda’s approach and is closely related to the artist’s deep interest in sociological and political theory, particularly in the question of “identity”.
About the Artist
Curator İpek Yeğinsü examines the themes and motifs of Balca Arda’s work and the context in which it was made:
“Cyborg” is the abbreviated version of “cybernetic organism”, defining beings with both artificial and biological parts. This term is also used in naming prosthetic implants that communicate with the impaired or amputated patient’s central nervous system. While in literature and cinema it refers to superhuman beings transformed into machines, in social sciences the name is given to elaborate networks of communication and management. It is closely related to the notions of human-machine relationship and the mechanized human. Debates evolving around this issue question the ethical consequences of the point up to which artificial intelligence is expected to develop. Can willpower, morality and empathy that distinguish the human from the machine be obtained with artificial intelligence? Can the robots be held responsible for the moral aspect of their actions? At what point does a mechanized human being cease to be human? The issue of human- robot ethics that Isaac Asimov tackles in his “I, Robot”, will be one of the highlighted topics of our near future.
In Balca Arda’s (www.balcaarda.com) work Blush No More we encounter a female “cyborg” busted in the toilet. Arda’s ironic approach also reveals itself in the artwork’s title. The blushing reflex, natural and specific to humans, is associated with a being whose toilet necessity is doubtful. Even the cyborg who is being told to be ashamed no more has internalized our society’s judgmental values. So can one talk about morality where willpower is absent? What are the answers if we ask the same question for the humanity instead of the cyborgs?
Balca Arda’s artistic quests concentrate on areas such as illustration, character design, comics, anime and video. Yet her technique underlines their relation to painting, intensely sensed by the viewer. Her artwork titled Indirect, composed in comics format but in a highly painterly aesthetic approach, focuses on how the social media and the images shared in mass via smartphones transform and render life and, consequently, artistic experience virtual. Just like the other visitors, a couple visiting a Van Gogh exhibition is struggling to photograph the artworks with their smartphones rather than actually examining them. They are so fixated on the impression they are to make in the virtual environment, they necessitate a second frame to be able to see Van Gogh’s paintings. Nowadays, as each and every one of us has become the artist of his or her own image, the meaning of social realm is at the center of Arda’s approach and is closely related to the artist’s deep interest in sociological and political theory, particularly in the question of “identity”. The fact that Arda chooses an impressionist, or more, a “genius-lunatic” figure like Van Gogh to describe the society’s transformation via technological instruments, is not coincidental. İpek Yeğinsü
Balca Arda holds a PhD degree in the Department of Political Science at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation project focuses on the Politics of Aesthetics. During her undergraduate studies at Bogazici University in Turkey in Political Science, she co-founded “Davetsiz Misafir” (The Uninvited Guest), an intellectual journal of science-fiction, cinema and critique, and she became the chief editor and director of the magazine. The magazine worked as a platform to get involved in the popular culture, and provided the opportunity to meet and discuss with several contemporary public intellectuals in Turkey and also conduct interviews with the well-known intellectuals abroad such as Jean Baudrillard and Arthur Kroker. During the same period, she also participated to the activities of the Mithat Alam Film Center, one of the most prominent cinema resource centers in Turkey. There she took an active part in the film production group as a scriptwriter and storyboard artist. She pursued her graduate studies at the University of the Arts London in the field of Digital Arts. From 2008-2010, Balca was a member of the artist residency of Borusan Art Center that selected 10 young Turkish artists to support their artistic works. She pursued another MA in the political science department at Bogazici University, and her thesis was on the Transformation of the Oppositional Art in Turkey. She is a graduate of Galatasaray High School and has exhibited her art in Istanbul, Toronto and London.Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in Visual Communication Design at Kadir Has University.
A Selection of her Articles: *all of her articles in Turkish are available at http://www.davetsizmisafir.org / *some of her articles and interviews in English are available at http://www.uninvitedguest.net
-Arda, T.Balca – (2009), “TRT6: Yeni Hegemonik Savas Alani” (“A New Hegemonic Battlefield: The Formation of the Official Kurdish TV, TRT6”), in Türkiye’de Iktidarı Yeniden Düşünmek, (Rethinking Power in Turkey), Varlık Yayınları (Varlık Publishing House), Istanbul
-Arda, T. Balca (2006) “Lost Dizisi ve Populer Medya Siyaseti” (“Lost TV Series and the Politics of Popular Media”) Altyazı Cinema Magazine, September 2005
-Arda, T. Balca (2004) “Beden Siyaseti ve Nip-Tuck Dizisinde Bedenin Temsilleri (“Body Politics and Representations of the Body in Nip-Tuck TV Series”), Davetsiz Misafir Journal, Spring2005
3. Translations, Compilations:
-Baudrillard, Jean (2004) “Baudrillard İstanbul Söylesileri” (“Conversation with Jean Baudrillard in İstanbul”), compiled and translated from French by T.Balca Arda, Davetsiz Misafir Journal, Spring-Summer2004, pp.2-6
-Haraway, Donna. (2005) “Donna Haraway ile Söylesi” (“Conversation with Donna Haraway”) compiled by T. Balca Arda, Davetsiz Misafir Journal, Spring 2005, pp.24-29