prev /home/ next
Downward Straits
Downward Straits (2004). Four channel PAL video, four channel sound. Duration: approx 3 min video, and 13:25 min audio, continuous loop. Installation view Beck's Futures 2004, ICA, London.

Ships move, ghostlike, between two shores. Some of these ships carry oil. Some carry containers full of the things we consume. The two shores are often cast as the shores of Europe and Asia. They are the shores of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. It is night time. We can see lights across the waterway. Some of the shots are from one shore and some from the other. The ships move both ways – right to left and left to right. There dark hulls and superstructures move across the lights of the other continent, momentarily blacking them out. All of this is happening on four large screens that the viewer is invited to walk through and engage with. The viewer is mobile like the ships, looking right and left as we negoti- ate our own passage. We hear sound too. The sounds of radio transmissions concerning the regulation of maritime mobilities. Ships are the vehicles that make the world work. They seem unremarkable: invisible even. Ships are old. Almost as old as humanity. They move across the earth’s surface relatively slowly. They do not attract the attention of the theorists. But the vast majority of the world’s “stuff” moves on ships. Ships are part of the infrastructure of mobility that hides what it is that is moving. Their apparent innocuousness is a deliberate consequence of the modern logistical imperative to standardize movements, to abolish stillness as much as possible. It is this linking of visibility, standardiza- tion and routinisation that global commodity movements are predicated on. This linking attempts to produce stability and predictability and, in turn, invisibility.

Downward Straits reflects on this largely invisible, mundane, passage of things across the seemingly contourless, borderless waters of the world. These ships only become visible as a kind of absence: the ship-shaped blankness that we perceive as the dim silhouettes of ships pass across the lights of the thoroughly coded landscapes of Europe and Asia. Here the thin passage of water acts as a liminal zone where mobility is juxtaposed with the seeming certainties of the hard, borderline landscapes that form the shores. The ship is a place outside of place. As in much of Cavusoglu’s work, a mysterious entanglement of place and mobility occurs asking us to confront the ways in which they make and undo each other.

Prof Tim Cresswell, (excerpt) fast forward 2 The Power of Motion, Media Art Sammlung Goetz (Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, Germany 2010)