Assignment 1: Understand A City

       1) The first image is one that “shows” the camera’s power to make the different, the shock, the other an object available for your “experience.” This is an image that implicates you as an “outsider” in your use of technology to handle the new and the excess of sensations that comes with being in a new world such as Istanbul. Boredom and sleepiness are other ways that we deal with this excess of sensation or “shock.”

A City’s Life
I was shocked by this scene because of the unique fashion and lifestyle shown here. Compared to our daily fashion which is usually comprised of simple and clean clothes with few colors, the clothes on display here illustrate that Turkish people always dress in more complicated, heavy, and colorful clothes. Also, we seldom sit down on carpets surrounded by so many stones like the Turkish people always do. As an ‘outsider’, the best way to understand a culture is to start by observing how people live there.

   2) The second image is one that conveys for you a difference or otherness in the build environment or social spaces of Istanbul that in some way has surprised or shocked you. This image does not try to control the shock but instead to focus on it, to try to linger on this shock.

 A City’s Disaster
      This image displays a time when a natural disaster was inflicted upon Istanbul. Actually, this flood was completely inevitable since it was a result of Istanbul's poor infrastructure. “In Istanbul, today's infrastructure is no different from that of 10 years ago. The infrastructure in some districts was built for the needs of around 10,000 people 10 years ago. But those places now have 100,000 residents. Everywhere is filled with concrete. Rainwater has almost no place to flow”, explained Professor Hızır Önsoy from Karadeniz Technical University. I never imagined the people in this ancient city having to suffer through poor conditions like this.

     3) The third image should be one that you think helps you convey the “limit” or the violent of the camera. That is, this image is one that is important to you because it somehow comments on the technology that you use to capture this image.

A City’s View
    Clean street, blue sky, and clear road signs in this picture will make everyone who never encountered Istanbul think this is a developed and modern city. However, Istanbul is not a rich country and has many problems in regards to city development. Also, other parts of Istanbul, maybe even just one street down from this one, can have a completely different look. A camera- produced picture which contains only a small part of the city cannot fully reveal what the city is really like.

4) The fourth image engages the politics of photography in the non-western world. Historically the camera has been seen as offering Westerners the truth of the Orient. The camera is used less as an apparatus of art than it has been used as an apparatus of scientific truth when picturing the non-west. To counter this it is important to think of images or shots that for you either undo the west/non-west binary in some way or that pushes the image away from being scientific document and toward being more of an artistic composition. As an artistic composition the image is valuable because it demands interpretation. Can you come up with an image in the city that for you is so complex that it demands interpretation?

 A City’s History

This is a picture of Topkapi Palace which is a palace that Ottoman Sultans lived for approximately four hundred years. As we can see from this picture, this palace is an amazing palace that has a fountain in front of it, four cistels sitting in the four corners, and a big lawn around it. In addition to its many important historical meanings and values, it is a beautiful work of art.

     5)The fifth picture should convey your struggle to capture deeply personal memory through an image. Is there an image that you have or could take that is meaningful to you because it evokes personal memory? How do you take that picture without loosing its quality as a memory?

A City’s Religion
5.1: This is a picture I took in an Islam mosque in Istanbul.

5.2: a picture I took in an Islam mosque in Xinjiang Province, China, which looks really similar as the one in Istanbul.

     The same religion holds the similar surroundings and buildings even in different countries. In Xinjiang province there are many mosques because the most popular religion there is Islam. When I arrived in Istanbul and saw the ancient buildings, I sensed a strong impression of religion in this city that reminded me of my time in Xinjiang Province. Religion is a very important part of a culture, and it makes the culture and the region colorful.

6) The sixth and seventh images are related to our three lectures by Jen, Orhan, and Didem. Can you take two pictures in the city/of the city that you think conveys or aids in conveying what you have taken away from these first three lectures. What in the lectures was most rich and meaningful to you. What was the take away for you? Power and inequality? Cities and their complex relation to nations? Modernity and its demand for homogeneous citizens? States and the way they hide their violence through what a citizen sees and remembers (ie, gentrification).

For the last two images we would like you to provide a short blog entry (500-900 words) that describes what you’ve been thinking about while in Istanbul, especially after our three lectures/tours. Use the blog space to tell a reader why you chose the images you took, how they relate to the theme of our study and how they express your interests. Tell a reader how the images are expressive of the connections you’re making between being in Istanbul, thinking about migration and identity, and learning about the history of cities, states and communities.

Although I only stayed in Istanbul for two days because of some flight and visa reasons and missed the first two day lectures, the lesson about history, migration, and religion I learned from Istanbul, this ancient amazing city, is much more than my two-day experience. 

The sixth image I was chosen was an Islam women standing in the street. She was wearing a white cover for her hair and her neck in a hot day because of her Islam religion. We can see lots of people like them in Istanbul, since Islam is the biggest religion in there, and the appearance of those people on the street or other social activities is becoming a common thing that not surprised people. These kinds of reactions from Istanbul people were making me think about the reason. Since when I was in China, a single race and culture nation, I always think about how the people in other culture live, communicate and think since all the people around me are Han people. Maybe because most people there have the same thought as me, when we see a foreigner or a Uygur person or the other people from Western China, we always stare at them and discuss about them for a long time. The reason for that happened was included in Professor Danis’s lecture that Turkey is a migration country for many historical and geographical facts, the people here are having different backgrounds and different living styles. These migration countries like Turkey always have a similar characteristic that more easily accept new cultures and concepts. People here can more understand and care about different race, religion and lifestyle, that was the most impressive feeling this city gave to me.

The seventh picture was I took when we are in the Immigration Association. After listening the lecture by the organizer, seeing the photos they collected, and reading the ‘Story of migrations’, I got more understanding of why people want abandon the country they born, the culture they remain, the roots they have. There are a great number of people come to another country for their new lives, the reason for that is because they want to a safe place, a health place, and a peace place to live. Before my this trip to Istanbul, I have a thought that those people who come to another country instead of their homeland is betray their country, and the unfair treatment maybe sometimes is ‘fair’ to them in some degree. However, now, I feel my thought was wrong that people want to come to another country just for surviving in this world. This is the only thing they can think about when they are facing diseases, hungers and even deaths. They already suffered the pain to leave the place they familiar with, the unfair treatments are more serious problem to them. Thus, we should use some legal ways to help them and make their lives better.

This short but meaning for trip to Istanbul makes me understand more about this beautiful but poor city. I learnt religion from the Blue Mosque, I learnt culture from Hagia Sophia Church, I learnt history from Topkapi Palace, and most important I learnt migration from everywhere in this city.