Movement, with Feeling



Land’s End

The line ends at the Haydarpaşa Train Station. It is not an arbitrary end – Haydarpaşa is located right by the sea; that is where the land, and indeed the continent, ends. Once a lively place for urban commuters as well as travelers headed for distant destinations, Haydarpaşa has been defunct for quite some time, due to plans to move the central station and replace the old tracks with new ones designed for fast trains. It seems that soon, Haydarpaşa will host only ghosts. Its platforms, once filled with people getting on, getting off, waving hands, or waiting for their loved ones, will only have old and tired echoes to fill the void.

This, then, is the setting for an installation of oversized gold-plated dials moving up and down in erratic yet graceful choreography. E-Motions is Rahşan Düren’s latest work, installed in the Waiting Lounge of the Haydarpaşa Train Station in Istanbul’s Asian side. It is a creation of deceptive simplicity – enter the lounge when the contraptions are at rest, and you will find yourself in an almost premonitory preparation for a resuscitation rite. Like dormant Martians from the H.G. Wells’ novel or slumbering prehistoric monsters of sorts, congregated in a mass graveyard, the dials will be lying still at various angles to each other. With the switch of a button, however, the graveyard comes alive, and an eerie dance begins.



What do these dials measure?

Speed. When the body moves, the soul follows suit. Speed is of crucial importance – accelerate the body beyond the natural speed of the soul, and you will have to wait for it to catch up – a phenomenon well known, it seems, by the Indians and the Postmoderns. Düren’s dials measure not the speed of bodies moving around on the platforms or moving in and out of the station on the trains, and not necessarily the speed of their souls, either, but the speed with which motions turn into emotions - emotions arising from realized or missed encounters, farewells, and departures that may or may not lead to a totally new range of motions and emotions.

Weight. Train stations are gatekeepers or weight watchers – it is their responsibility to ensure that, at the end of the day (which may be years away), the total weight moving in balances the total weight moving out. This measurement is not simply of mass, though it is that as well; it is more concerned with the amount of feeling “invested” by outsiders as opposed to the amount “exported” by locals. These two amounts fluctuate all the time - hence the movement of the dials. If the books keeping track of the incoming and outgoing feelings cannot be balanced, great misery and confusion may be expected: the peaches of the land will ever so slowly lose their vivid colors, and birds of prey will begin to shed their feathers in mid-flight, one by one.

Energy. Düren’s dials also measure the energy released during meetings and farewells in the station. Both of these phenomena may be experienced in gradually increasing increments or bursts; regardless, the dials move at their own pace to register this energy, their gold plates turning slightly brighter when measuring happy reunions, and imperceptibly darker when registering the sorrow of departures.



Accompanying the installation is a group of black-and-white paintings by the artist in gold-plated frames at the VIP Lounge of the station. These paintings can be read as projections of the motion of the dials in the installation, much like the printed output of a seismograph, and they frame the same question asked by E-Motions in a different way: how to understand movement and the feelings aroused by it.



Düren’sE-Motions is the blood relative of such kinetic sculptures as John Douglas Powers’ Ialu, Anne Lilly’s Parietals, Arthur Ganson’sMachine with Oil, or even Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Articulated Intersect. It shares with them a deliberate slowness that invites deliberation in a space has stagnated into a stationary station, substituting stasis for hustle, solitude for hordes, and silence for hubbub. Düren taps into the reservoir of the eternally existential conundrum of arrivals, departures, encounters, and the feelings evoked by them; she brings out a reverie inhabited by giant dials that measure out our essence in silence. 


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