Deep City, Contemporary Istanbul

“Deep City “ by Güvenç Özel
Robotic Media Installation
AI-generated animation, chrome finished carbon fiber composite sculpture, industrial robot

Project team:
Designed and envisioned by: Guvenc Ozel
Animated content and edited by: Guvenc Ozel
Machine learning programming: Benjamin Ennemoser, Sarah Kim
Robotics Programming: Guvenc Ozel, Benjamin Ennemoser
Composite fabrication: Metyx Composites
Robotic setup: Kuka Robotics
Project Management and Art Consultancy: Ayse Pinar Akalin
The work is based on the creation of a surveillance database consisting of four world cities with different socioeconomic, demographic, architectural and urbanisticidentities: Istanbul, Hong Kong, Rome and New York. Hours of drone footage, CCTV videos, animated 3D models, maps and other visual data from these cities are used to train deep-learning algorithms to generate a “meta-city,” a fictional urban environment that is the resultant of how AI perceives and interprets the various urban characteristics in its dataset. The images created by this AI are then composited into a continuous video and projected in a panoramic configuration to the walls, immersing the audience in an artificial urban environment envisioned by machines. Working in synchronization with the video, a mirrored sculptural object with various reflective and optical properties is actuated by an industrial robot in an orbital trajectory. Positioned between the projection and the robot, the audience can see their own reflection on the moving sculpture; altered, distorted and composited into the synthetic landscapes of the “Deep City.” Through this spatial setup, the project allows for developing speculative and experiential approaches toward seeing our cities as machines do in the world of surveillance capitalism.
“Deep City”

We are being observed, recorded. In contemporary urban life, we became dependent on machines and are increasingly attracted to their bright, virtual world. From an architectural point of view, cities are growing in a distorted manner in the name of profit, migration and rapid urbanization; history, nature and mankind disappear in it.
LA based artist, architect and technologist Güvenç Özel, questions all these concepts with his robotic media installation “Deep City“. In the frenetic consumption speed of our modern life, this spatial installation lasting 3,5 minutes allows the audience to experience a space between the mind and the body of machines where artificial intelligence and robotics intersect.
In an era in which information plays with our perceptions and tries to decipher us, the artist wants us to experience how machines perceive the cities we live in and us within. Prejudices of human nature turn into generalizations in the world of artificial intelligence. The synthetic landscapes of the “Deep City” transform from two into three dimensions, while colors blend together like a watercolor painting on an abstract expressionist canvas.
It is not yet possible for machines to fully comprehend complex cities with their culture, sociological identity and social nuances. But they are not too far from it...

Project Manager and Art Consultant
Ayşe Pınar Akalın