Sense of Place and Matter


Island(s) of Escape, Coastline Paradox, and Upcycling

My work entitled ‘The Island of Escape’, which I realized during my participation in Sinopale in 2012, was about an attempt to planting a pirate flag on a rock just beyond Turkey’s northern tip at İnceburun. This rock is an undefinable piece of land due to its size and location. Sometimes it disappears under the waves with the wind and sometimes it appears completely. It is an islet with an intricate surface that is located a few meters from the mainland Turkey. So where is the most northern point of İnceburun, which is called the northernmost tip? The exact positioning of the point is almost impossible, because the view of the islet is different every time. It is possible to specify this location on small-scale maps, but not in detail.

As a map gets smaller in scale, its accuracy becomes questionable and we encounter variable and questionable borders. Since we see more detail as the scale grows on the maps fractally, the coastlines gradually increase in length and grow indefinitely. This mathematical phenomenon, called the ‘coastline paradox’, is a scientific concept. But it can be considered as an artistic concept as well. As we get down to the essence of things and places, and as we get closer, we discover new aspects of them and question what we know to be true. It is no longer possible for us to see a neighborhood where we have lived in for many years through the same eyes as we were there the very first time. This also applies to human relations. Places and things evolve, deform and are reinterpreted each time. Each new moment finds a meaning as the sum of all previous moments.

When I was in Sinop, I took photographs of the ‘Island of Escape’ from the same angle, but in different moments. Inspired the curatorial text of Mürteza Fidan titled ‘The Sense of Place and Matter, The Touch of Human to Human’, I materialized different views of the islet as three dimensional ceramic sculptures, based on these photographs I took. The sculptures are installed in a circular shape similar to a clock. This can be viewed as an animated gif file and there is also an interactive display with photographs.

You can view the documentation of the artwork Sümer Sayın produced in Sinopale 4 titled “The Island of Escape” in the archive. Click for “The Island of Escape, 2012”.


In today’s world, people’s feelings about themselves are affected by the conflict between their economic needs and their beliefs. Whilst their faith’s compass is set on the temporality and spatiality of the powers of compassion, temporality and spatiality of economy’s compass is based on the forces of aggression.

The global-standardizing consumption culture created by the growth ambition of the capitalist economy pushes us in terms of speed and movement, especially in metropolitan areas, breaking our ties with places and matter, creating a crisis of “touch”. In order to resist the currently accepted ethics of detachment that creates such insensitivities between individuals, we need to renounce meta-economy’s desire for uncontrolled growth and exercise the modesty of sustainable degrowth.