New Media

  • Graft
    Aslihan Demirtas

Aslihan Demirtas, Grafted river, 1999, detail photograph from Atatürk Dam, Urfa, Turkey. Photograph by the artist.

Grafting is a technological intervention; simply put, it is the insertion of desirable or desired genes to be cultivated in an existing plant. Despite the fact that both the scion (grafted branch) and the stock (host tree) fall under the category of nature, the resulting tree is a hybrid of nature and technology, by way of human intervention. Considered icons of modernity, dams and dam lakes are man-made grafts in the natural world—interventions that propagate technological landscapes from rivers. As in the case of the grafted tree, rivers are not asked for their consent in the process of becoming "natural and national resources." The right of nature is excluded in the contracts of modernity. Graft is a publicly accessible digital source of research and multimedia production intended to provoke a discussion of "graft" as a concept and modernity's politics of nature through technological interventions, landscapes, and their repercussions focused on, but not limited to, Turkey.

Aslihan Demirtas is an architect and the principal of the interdisciplinary studio Aslihan Demirtas Design & Research Office, based in New York and Istanbul. Her practice purposefully crosses territories and boundaries of disciplines in the forms of building, landscape and installation projects, exhibitions, art projects, as well as research. Demirtas holds an MS in architectural studies from MIT and a BArch from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. Her publications include a chapter in the book Landscapes of Development: The Impact of Modernization Discourses on the Physical Environment of the Eastern Mediterranean (Harvard University Press, 2013); Infrastructure: Water issue of Betonart journal which she guest-edited in 2013,  as well as chapters in Anytime (MIT Press), In-Transit (Verlag der Bauhaus), Thresholds (MIT), and WORK (Parsons). She has participated in conferences at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, MIT, and Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. Her work has been exhibited at SALT, Istanbul and Ankara; Pratt Manhattan Gallery; the Aronson Gallery; and NTHCCC, in New York. Demirtas currently teaches design studio at Parsons School of Constructed Environments and is full time faculty at the Department of Architecture at Kadir Has University, Istanbul.