For Sea Art Festival 2021 in Busan, South Korea, Kerem Ozan Bayraktar focused on the complex dynamics between the ecology of the East Sea and a fishing village, presenting a multimedia installation with the commonly found sea eel as its motif. The two videos in Strands contain a 3D rendering created based on research about the unique habits of sea eels, as well as a scene wherein a local fisherman weaves eel hooks.
Through nylon nets, cables, tarpaulin, and other objects, Bayraktar’s installation in a small fishing tent forms a mysterious habitat that immerses us into the dark, labyrinthine world of eels. Through Strands, the artist not only experiments with the possibility of redesigning the ideological hierarchy between humans and non-humans, but also the interrelations among inorganic objects, living bodies, and digital media.
“Bayraktar creates an arcane habitat through video, cables, fishing hooks and line, 3D printed pedestals, nets, tarpaulin, and nylon. A local species of conger eels found in this marine region, featuring black bodies with lines of white dotting their length, are popularly hunted and eaten in Ilgwang area.
Visualizing the indeterminate flows and reproductive encounters between the fishing community in Ilgwang and these East Sea eel communities, this installation immerses us in a space of destabilized hierarchies. Rather than a reductive denigration of fishing industries, Strands immerses us in a culturally critically located yet erotic, sensorial space constructed through the eerie entanglements of eels. Spatial objects and materials mimic these writhing eel ecologies based on research about their communal habits and conversations with local fishermen and Haenyeo women.
A large suspended television screen combines organic and plastic strands with renderings of eels who are the primary actors; a smaller video screen depicts a local fisherman weaving fishing hooks over a basin, but his fingers resemble eel bodies as a disembodied voice names the objects entwined in the installation. The interior of the tent is wrapped in tarpaulin, recalling the watery origins of plastic production and anoxic seas, while the design of the 3D printed pedestals recalls uncanny oceanic forms. The digital renderings are not merely simulacra of the physical site and its constituent elements; Strands vitalizes these through the movement of pixels to inscribe new forms of flux and dematerialized temporalities.”—Ritika Biswas
Kerem Ozan BAYRAKTAR