Empire Front: Networks and the Hermeneutical Dimensions of Disruption


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Atif Akin


War and fronts have always been cultural contact points in history but more for the US as its empire borders reach way far than its physical borders. This seminar will focus on concepts that inspired the project which are about metadata, surveillance, warfare imagery, application programming interfaces, and history of photography as it relates to war and fronts.

The most offensive effects of mass surveillance, so intricately interwoven into our daily existence, have yet to be fully assessed. Contemporary forces such as war, power, rights (privacy), culture (empire), and language are shaped and morphed by surveillance, with momentum and speed that only capitalism can provide. Where are the counter forces to this all-but-complete appropriation of life as we know it? Empire Front, an installation of over 600 polaroid-format photos taken from the social media accounts of American soldiers stationed in US bases abroad, offers a glimpse of one such possibility.

Empire Front appropriates 624 photographs and captions published online at public realm by American or UN soldiers around 7 largest overseas bases of the American Army along with a drone vision simulation animation over the same locations.


Atif Akin (Turkey, 1979) is an artist and designer living in New York. His work examines science, nature, mobility, and politics through an (a)historical and contemporary lens. Through a series of activities made up of research, documentation and design, Akin’s work considers transdisciplinary issues, through a technoscientic lens, in aesthetic and political contexts. Akin studied at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Over the past ten years, he has been teaching in Istanbul, Europe, and the US. Akin joined the Mason Gross School of the Arts faculty at Rutgers University
in 2011, the same year he moved to New York. Akin has a private studio in New York, and works and exhibits actively in the US, as well as Europe and the Middle East. Currently, he is working
 on a long term research-driven art project on nuclear mobility and archaeology to be presented at the Design Biennial.