The opening film of the first Istanbul Design Biennial’s ‘Musibet’ exhibition showcases the conceptual framework, general approach, intentions, problematics lying beneath and the reasoning of the exhibition. Depicting a journey that starts from Kartal seashore and ends in Istanbul Modern which calls on to 25 neighborhoods in a 10-hour drive, it discusses topics such as “urban ownership”, “delocalization of production”, “transportation/accessibility” and “government vs. public” through the stops of this journey. On the route, the words of inhabitants, tradesmen, craftsmen and producers, passengers; briefly the urbanites from a wide range of social groups are accompanied with the words of representatives of NGO’s, specialists, and academics. The stage is set for the team at EAA, after a barrage of tiresome, deconstructive, and cacophonous images and words.

For a relatively short run-time of 18 minutes, Musibet took well over a month of constant shooting, and over 70 hours of footage raw footage to complete. Sarraf | Galeyan | Mekanik team worked day and night to take the words of every person, the contents of every interview, the answers to every question and the imagery of every location to careful consideration, handpicked and merged them in a highly compacted documentary within mere days. In a period of two months, this unusual documentary introduced well over 40.000 biennial-goers to the exhibition and the exhilarating metropolitan cacophony of Istanbul it problematized.

The brief of the project by the curator, Emre Arolat stated that the film should be cacophonous, exhaustive, and even cumbersome in its content. An audio-visual of introduction to an exhibition that problematizes a multitude of urban issues such as “Musibet” had to be short, precise, and impactful. Being exhaustive and maybe even hard-to-watch on the other hand, while keeping the content absorbable by the audience required highly unorthodox methods of editing.

The cut had to be fast paced. In order to reach this speed, it also had to display multiple images at the same time in a single frame. For achieving this, a non-standard aspect ratio of 1:2.5 was picked. This aspect ratio was then divided into 5 pieces, resulting in 1:0.5 ratio portrait segments. In doing so, the audience would be able to follow multiple images in a single frame, because the necessity to follow different parts of the frame could be established easily and early in the film. These segmented portraits would slide into or suddenly appear in the frame, displaying details of the locations and the people attached to them, while most of the frame is still covered by the vista, or the most representative image of the issue associated with topic being discussed at that exact moment.

However, this technique also required a “binding agent”; a set of images or a footage that kept the flow of the film running no matter how drastically the topic, the people and the locations may change. This would be the ‘spine’ of the film. Since the urban issues to be investigated were all selected from Istanbul, the film had to jump from location to location. Instead of jumping, this spine would have the audience be transported by car.

This meant shooting a time-lapse video in motion that has spanned 220 kilometers in an approximately 10-hour commute in Istanbul. Made of 10.727 images and 3 videos, this 7-minute footage of the journey was shot non-stop in a single day.

For shooting the time-lapse video, a Honda Civic was turned into a production vehicle and mounted with a suction cup rig atop of its sunroof. This way, the camera could be controlled from inside the car. The photographs acquired from this shooting were then put through several automated operations to balance out the differences in exposure and overall brightness of the pictures.

Directed by:
M. Can Tanyeli

Creative direction and screenplay by:
E. Seda Kayım

Original score and sound design by:
Erhun Erdoğan

EAA Emre Arolat Architects:

Emre Arolat
Nil Aynalı
Özge Ertoptamış
Deniz Kösemen
Ece Çiper

Contributing organizations:

Gülsuyu-Gülensu Mahalle Dernekleri
Kahraman Bostan Hareketi
Kuzguncuklular Derneği
Sarıyer Mahalle Dernekleri Platformu
Tahribat-ı İsyan

Consultants and experts:

Merve Akı
Cihan Uzunçarşılı Baysal
Alev Erkilet
Arzu Erturan
Hacer Foggo
Haluk Gerçek
Korhan Gümüş
Murat Güvenç
Aslı Kıyak İngin
Yegan Kahya
Funda Oral
Derya Nüket Özer
Mustafa Sönmez
Çiğdem Şahin
Gülsün Tanyeli
Uğur Tanyeli
Erman Topgül
Kevser Üstündağ
Murat Cemal Yalçıntan
Hakkı Yırtıcı