1 Ocak 2008 Salı

Media And Art

Bu metin, 12 Aralık 2007 tarihinde, Bupyong History Museum'da düzenlenen "The Formation and Criticism of Korean/Turkish Contemporary Arts" başlıklı sempozyumda sunulmuştur.


I wish that we could mention about a media, which could realize its own self-control mechanism with esthetics / ethics, intellectual / cultural concerns. Although it seems as a definite judgment, it is obvious that the media in Turkey now is not quite interested with these adjectives. While touching the mentioned situation, as the scope of this text will be kept within the frame of the relations between Turkish art and Turkish media, it is not possible to take at hand the structure of the media area proper to itself, its contradictions or problems.
It may be said that the relation between Turkish art, and newspaper, magazine, radio, television and internet being defined as media dates far back unilaterally at first stage, I mean form the perspective of the art’s finding place at media. The discovery of the media by the art is much later.
In1980s, the ending of the isolation at Turkish art in 1960s and 1970s is directly proportional with the starting of the media sector to grow after this period, too. However, within time the art and media relation doesn’t present a healthy appearance at the result of capital’s starting to perpetuate its domination through media tools.
In our day, while the reality and image exchange their places, it will be appropriate to suggest ideas about both the current situation of the relation between art and media, and how it should be.

How can we define the media?

The media can be defined as a common name that covers all press organs such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines that provides the communication with masses. A qualitative transformation was realized with the participation of the radio, television and internet to the press at the measure of possibilities, which provided by the technology within time, the meta-concept having the name media occurred.
The starting of the media to participate to legislation, law enforcement and adjudication trio as the forth force after the 2nd World War, by 1950s started a process evolving into the media of our day. The aim of the media, whose basic function is information-experience communication has changed with the domination of liberal market circumstances almost all around the world and with the inevitable effects of Postmodernism; the media has passed to the position of idea and thus ideology producer. The putting forth of Baudrillard, who said “Today there aren’t stage and mirror, instead of them, there are screen and communication network” at his writing dated 1980, that Iraq War is nothing but a war simulation happening at the media only is an example exposing obviously in front of eyes the “serious” situation that the media took at our day.
In Turkey, while the press was an important and independent power until late period, with the military intervention of September 12th 1980, having been lived caused the original ideas to lose blood extensively. While the voice of the opposition was cut, the depoliticization process reflected to media, too. After this period, the process that can be called “the media’s becoming enterprise” was implemented; the media gained a new form as its examples at the world with the entrance of the holdings to media since 90s especially. The monopolization at its institutions caused the media to go after its own profits and aims instead of serving to public benefit, the independent and original ideas were blocked.
The television entering to Turkey since mid 1970s was spread within short while; while state channel TRT stayed unique for long years, numerous private channels were opened with the inclusion of the capital since 1990s.
Today “independent” newspapers, magazines or televisions channels in Turkish media endeavor to perpetuate their existences with their own possibilities, to continue their missions to be the alternative of big media that have become holding.

Art in Turkish Media

How much and how does Turkish Media allocate place to the art? While the answers of these questions are searched, the general properties of the media being tried to be defined are faced inevitably. While the becoming holding makes the greed of earning the principal target of media corporations, this process overlapped with depoliticization of the society starting with September 12th 1980 intervention and the society’s “being rendered ordinary”, and with the trailing of the mass culture to “degeneration”. While gossip news are called “magazine” today in general of Turkish Media, the singers singing popular music kinds, I mean entertainment market producers are called as “artist”. The real art, culture and even architecture are marginal matters for contemporary media.
Certainly, it is not possible to evaluate the media having the power of influencing and directing the societies, in a single basket. On one hand the media corporations the most read, the most watched, the most listened however inside vision and information dirtiness, on other hand educative, informative, promoting media corporations stand.
While there are monetary or moral concerns proper to themselves at corporations’ giving place to the art, the buyers’, i.e. the society’s choice does not result pleasantly. For example at Milliyet newspaper, which is one of the biggest three Turkish newspapers, a news that is dated 18th June 2003 under the title “The Choice of The Youth Is Magazine” took place. The article at the news said that “According to a research having been conducted at Selçuk University, the youth find the magazine news being published at media much more interesting than art, science and economy news...” This situation may have several reasons, however what is ironic is Milliyet Newspaper’s allocation of place to culture and art news for last few months and only half a page daily.
The evaluating separate media kinds by taking at hand one by one will lead us to healthier results.


A questioning with some television channel editors in Turkey upon the relation of media and art presents interesting information.(Art and Media”, Prepared by Bilge Aydoğan, Nilgün Yüksel, rh+sanat magazine, issue 9-10, 2004) According to this, for example TRT 2 that amongs the official channels of Turkish Republic carries the traces of the “culture – art channel” mission that it adopted periodically. While the art programs at televisions are limited with cinema generally, at TRT 2 many programs taking at hand painting-sculpture and contemporary art exhibitions, alternative projects, city, architecture history, theater and stage arts take place. TRT 2’s giving place to these programs, its aiming social education, cultural enrichment are required according to its official broadcasting policy being determined.
It may be claimed that the selection for the activities to be broadcasted at art programs taking place at TRT 2 is healthy; the innovative works from different sections, having universal values are selected for presenting among intense information flow. The bigness or smallness of the activity may be determinative, too.
Kanal D, which is one of the four big national channels of Turkey is a private television channel claiming to broadcast “in direction of spectator demands”, and allocating less place to art due to little demand of the spectator. No art branch except cinema, doesn’t take place at news bulletins of Kanal D, which allocates place to culture and art when they aim entertainment and speculation.
Show TV, which is another one of the biggest national channels at the country behaves with “rating” concern, too. Almost no place is allocated to culture and art. Other two channels ATV and Star TV conduct similar broadcasting policies, too. The concern of being watched directs the managers to behave in direction of popularism. For instance “Picasso is at Istanbul” exhibition, which is loaded sensational values with a big PR campaign may find place at all channels.
While this is the situation of big television channels, there are also private channels with news heavily having the principle of giving place to culture – art. CNN Turk, TV 8, NTV, SKY Turk lead these ones. At these channels, there are privileged programs for plastic arts. These programs being broadcasted without concerning the calculation of watching value stand generally as long as they are supported by private capital, i.e. sponsorship system. At the result of this, for instance at a program, where a bank is sponsor, the exhibitions of the art gallery of that bank, the concerts at its culture center and the presentations of the books being published by publishing house of the same bank have priority.
The opening of big media monopolies more than one and specific channels is the point at issue. For instance D Plus television being linked to Kanal D was implemented with the claim of being culture art channel. The existence of an independent art channel is as joyful as the power of the monopolization being lived, which is able to influence art medium is worrisome, too.
With all of these, the “punishment”s of Supreme Council for Radio and TV Broadcasting (RTÜK), which follows the media within the framework of general principles and, which applies sanctions to programs attract attention. RTÜK obliges to broadcast documentary instead of the programs that it doesn’t approve, by canceling their broadcasting. However this “obligation” is denied by the society and the documentaries are not watched, the “rating” of the channel decreases.


While the owners of the newspapers were generally journalists in Turkey, since 90s the patrons changed and the names outside of communication sector have a voice in the area. Around liberal ideologies that the persons adopted, the newspapers are reduced into the situation named “painted press” within time, too.
The presence of a culture – art page at Ulus newspaper that starts its publishing life in 1935, i.e. a short while after the foundation of Turkish Republic is an important example from the perspective of the recently founded state’s conducting enlightenment policy through culture and art. Again the culture – art publishing policy of Cumhuriyet newspaper starting to be published in 1924 and still being published in our day has a similar quality. With passage to multiparty system since 1950s, the newspapers increased, too, however the place being allocated to culture and art decreased inversely proportionally. This process determined the period extending till our day.
Today just as the concern of televisions to be watched, the newspapers holds the essence of being bought primary at their publishing policies, they give place to news of the kind that the majority wants to read, too. Along with the contemporary political and social news, the sport pages being limited with football generally, the television page regularly, the magazine news descending to gossip level from time to time take place at front pages. The place that is allocated to culture and art at some newspapers is once a week and heavily in form of cinema “agenda”, I mean that it informs about, which activity is where. Among 26 national newspapers being published in Turkey, only four of them continue to make culture –art page steadily. These are Radikal and Birgün newspapers together with Milliyet newspaper again, which doesn’t pass half a page mostly, along with Cumhuriyet. They consider a hierarchical ordering, and the culture art pages are left to last pages.
The biggest problem of the newspapers making culture – art pages or giving place to a single news form time to time is their lack of reporters, who are expert in art area. This situation may cause misevaluation and wrongly reflecting of the art upon not being able to have a command of the language of plastic arts proper to itself.
The not being institutionalized aspect of the art criticism in Turkey, the scarcity of the names in this area and the rarely allocation of place to them at newspapers point out to a separate problem too.

Art Magazines In Turkey

The cultural enlightenment aim of the recent Turkish Republic brings art magazine business in Turkey to as old times as newspaper business. In 1939 “Güzel Sanatlar Dergisi” being published by “General Directorate”, which depends on Headship of Fine Arts Education (which is the today’ s Turkey Ministry of National Education), is quite important with its big size, offset paper and some colorful pages. The culture art magazines continuing to be published periodically by Ministry of Culture later were pioneer in creating a medium for spreading, comprehension and discussion of Western art in Turkey. Because, despite a radical art school like Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi that have been established in 1882 at the country, the students could not see the artworks at West, and the state tried to cover this gap with colorful reproductions that it published. The heritage of this line provided its continuality of art magazine business at the result of private initiatives for decades although by dragging.
The art magazines are important from the perspective of being an area, where the artists may express themselves, due to closed aspect of the press to the art. It may be determined that most of the magazines being published so far came out by the initiation of the artists. Some of them are “Sanat ve Sanatçılar”, which was began to press in 1960s by Adnan Turani, and after, as the chronicle order; “Kalın” of Mehmet Güleryüz, “Sakala” of Bedri Baykam, “Boyut” of Jale Erzen, “Art-İst” of Halil Altındere-Vahit Tuna. Again there are also magazines such as “Sanat Çevresi” and “Dipnot” being published by art people. Art gallery owners brought different breaths to the area with the magazines that they publish. “rh+sanart” of which I am the editor, along with this “Türkiye’de Sanat”, “Artist”, “Cey” magazines may be counted. Some magazines such as “Plato” are published with the efforts of collectors. These magazines being published still in our day could have really independent and alternative voice as well as they could last their existences because of the owner’s conducting “prestige” aim.
We should add “Ankara Sanat” magazine, too, which marked an era with being published not at İstanbul, but in Ankara at 1970s, and with the respectable place that it acquired.
It may be said that almost all art magazines in Turkey address to “high culture”. However, when this is the point at issue, the magazines such as “Art Decor” and “P Sanat” are the leaders. These magazines having place inside curiosities and auction sector, give an image of reinforcing the consumption culture with both their advertising, sale and publishing policies.
“Milliyet Sanat” magazine being published for quite long while have the same name than a private newspaper, it is the magazine of the same media monopoly. The magazine, which was questioner, open to discussion, informative, keeping consistency in 1970s couldn’t escape from the influence of popular culture, and has got a speculative aspect with both its form and content. The slogan that “Milliyet Sanat” magazine used lastly is “The magazine, which doesn’t separate the popular one and not popular one”. This is not quite possible certainly!
“Sanat Dünyamız” magazine that Yapı Kredi publishes for its own name as a private bank continues to its way steadily for longtime. “Sanat Dünyamız” had an aspect of a certain quality at the result of the efforts of its editors so far, but it is a magazine not being able to voice independently due to not being able to keep the distance with the capital as being a bank magazine.
In Turkey, the art magazines’ not being sustainable in the long run, their being published with individual sacrifice, their difficulties in catching a certain quality originate from not being able to provide the monetary conversion for providing continuality. The main reasons of this are the smallness of the reader mass unfortunately, the limitation of advertisement and sponsor supports. There is a striking data at “Humanitarian Development Report” being prepared for United Nations Development Program (UNDP) by Turkish Economical and Social Etudes Foundation (TESEV). According to the report, it is proved by numbers that 49, 3% of the youth between ages 18-30 are television watcher; however 11% read an art magazine. The smallness of reading habituation is only one of the consequences of the popular culture production.
The monetary limitation of the art magazines brings to the critics, the fact of not taking copyright fees from the articles being published at the magazines and this is a big concussion to criticism institution. The introverted past of the Turkish art market, not being able to capitalize, thus art’s not becoming enterprise, the lack of an culture industry yet kept the budgets at small scale. This creates a contradictory situation such as the capital’s support for the art that it desires, and it may lead us till questioning the art.
It may be said that almost all magazines being published at different areas in Turkey give place to culture - art news at changing scales. It is necessary to underline separately that this is joyful from the perspective of the formation of art spectator.


We may put the internet advancing rapidly on the way of being the biggest media with changing and developing technological conditions of our day, at an important place in inclusion of art matter. Today, the internet being applied billions of times by millions of people at Turkey as at each country has the position of basic source reachable by everybody, that everyone, who wants may take place as they wish, too. In fact although it is very recent, almost all artists, art galleries at Turkish art medium that discovers internet technology have their own web sites. Of course this is joyful from the perspective of being able to reach the first source directly.
When we add internet into the evaluation at matter of art journalism, we face the big news portals; although there is “culture - art” clause at main menus of all news sites, it can be seen that what are claimed about daily newspapers are valid for these sites, too. I.e. the news is selected generally at random and takes place at formats not passing beyond presentation. The fact that even several big sites don’t renew their culture – art agendas daily is an inconvenient situation additionally.

The Disappearance of the Frontiers in Media – Art Relation: The Art of Media and the Art That Takes Media as the Subject

Now the art has a much more interdisciplinary identity compared to the past. It enters into the areas of social sciences form time to time as well as it is nourished from them. The relation between media and art is brought to a different form in our day by art’s discovery of the media as a new “medium”. At this point, the matter may be better understood with a few different examples givable from Turkey.
A new kind of art so called “The Art of the Media”, existing at digital mediums and of interactive quality has been formed in our day. A typical example to be given to this kind of art, where the artist uses the image as an abstraction means and where the material of the art changes completely, may be internet art. NOMAD, which works with a production network that it built through digital art in Turkey, is the name of the art formation, where a group of artists form different nations may be together. The group produces common projects with artists and curators from Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and one of the last works of NOMAD was an internet site that they formed with the aim of protesting the attack of Israel to Lebanon last year.
In media – art relation other than the art’s making exist itself at a media medium, the taking of art the media as subject by pulling the media into its own frontiers is the point at issue. One of the best examples to be given at this matter is the work of artist Serkan Özkaya at 8th Istanbul Biennial in 2003. The artist drawing by hand anew whole cover page Radikal Newspaper dated September 21st made reference to media by providing the publishing of the newspaper like this that day and its distribution at the Biennial. The artist both approves and questions with this work the newspaper that he defines as “at the position of being the writer of daily history”. Özkaya, who said “The plastic arts don’t pass beyond one-two pages of one-two newspapers. There isn’t a developed system. We may say definitely that there isn’t a conscious ‘reader mass’ ” about art – media relations in an interview being made beforehand was indicating that he wanted to convert the newspaper into the “image of the reality” with this work of him.
An exhibition having been realized at Turkey In 2006 was a quite successful, interesting example from the perspective opening to discussion media and art relations. If we summarize briefly; firstly before the start of this exhibition named “Hacet”, the press release containing short information about the concept, dates, site of the exhibition and the artists taking place, together with their works, reached all press establishments. Later the information at the press release being written with a complex language found large place as unsigned news at newspapers, magazines, television channels and internet sites. Soon the signed interpretations started about the exhibition, which wasn’t opened yet. However, the difference of this exhibition from other ones was exactly towards showing the deficiencies of the media in taking the art at hand; because there wasn’t in fact such exhibition as “Hacet”! While a part of the artists having been indicated to participate were not even artist, the address of the exhibition was invention! When the non existence of the exhibition was declared with a second press release, the discussions towards the name owner of this idea Fatih Balcı, who introduced himself as the curator, arose this time at media organs. Because, he was accused by “deceiving the media”. Later Balcı said that they made “a completely simulative exhibition at Postmodern times” and that they aimed to decipher “the media having entered between the spectator and art fact” at an interview having been held with him (“Absent Exhibition Method, Reporter Rafet Arslan, rh+sanart magazine, issue 35, December 2006). This was possible with media again.


These clauses at “Humanitarian Development Report” having been published by Turkey Economical and Social Etudes Foundation in 1999 are interesting from the perspective of summarizing the relation between media and art: “The negative development being created by the art’s reaching large masses at the result of technological developments may be mentioned, too. In direction of this development, which may be defined as merchandization of the art, the artistic production originating from the own cultural accumulation of the folk –that we may define as folk art examples- started to disappear more and more and the commercial value criteria were valid at art area. At this point the media has responsibility as well as the state has, too. The values being put forth, exalted by media are determinative at art of our day. However in media, too, the quality must be at foreground just as it should be the case at the art institutions of the state.”
After what are said about the basic character of the media at Turkey and the forms of media’s taking the art at hand, a situation, which may be especially underlined is the fact that the visual elements being used with advertising and presentation aims in our day, and the art approach to each other more and more. This situation is supported by a section from art medium also which desires the harmonious relation of the art with advertisement sector. While the two areas are mixed up with each other, the existence reasons of the art and advertisement are intermingled, and this situation causes the people living at metropolises especially to be bombed with both every kind of media tools and numerous images at streets. As a result the artistic works become invisible inside this abundance of image.
While the art that media institutions don’t prefer to present have difficulty in meeting with the spectator, the works being able to achieve this become acceptable without questioning.
For a healthier art medium and the development of the art – media relation, all of these facts must be absolutely opened to discussion at whole world, mainly in Turkey. At a time being indexed to consumption, the “products” of the new media started to be spectator or reader now, too. However the obstruction of the whole of profit aiming relations will form the healthier form of relation too between the art and media.