Offering Table for Uncertain Futures

Group1 Artwork, 2018

Offering Table for Uncertain Futures is a group artwork exhibited at Gümüşlük Akademisi Bodrum following the workshop “Field Notebook as a Research Tool/Apparatus” that was held in July, 2018. The artwork is an attempt at countervisualizing the anthropocene, utilizing waste material that was collected by the participants in the dump area near Gümüşlük Akademisi.

1. Offering Table for Uncertain Futures was made by Ömür Harmanşah, Peri Johnson, Yağmur Koçak, Burak Taşdizen and Sercan Yerşen as part of Field Notebook as a Research Tool/Apparatus workshop.

Some notebooks from the workshop. Photograph: Ömür HarmanşahSome notebooks from the workshop. Photograph: Ömür Harmanşah
Offering Table for Uncertain Futures. Photograph: Burak Taşdizen Offering Table for Uncertain Futures. Photograph by Burak Taşdizen

Exhibition in the making. Yağmur Koçak and Burak Taşdizen. Photograph: Merve Şanlı Exhibition in the making. Yağmur Koçak and Burak Taşdizen. Photograph: Merve Şanlı

Notebook as a Research Tool/Apparatus workshopTaken from the call for participants for the workshop
Keeping a field notebook is a shared method of documentation and medium of representation among all areas of research for which fieldwork and field observation plays a vital role: biology, archaeology, geology, architectural history, urbanism, anthropology, earth sciences, public history, heritage studies and historical conservation, art disciplines and so on. Greek thinker Aristotle spent weeks and weeks on the island of Lesbos at Pyrrha lagoon, staring at fish and documenting their reproductive cycles. His field observations that filled notebooks led him to produce several treatises on marine biology, including History of Animals, accompanied by his drawings in The Anatomies. His influential concept of phûsis was built on this work.

If field observation is key to many disciplines whose data collection is dependent on meticulous record keeping, the fieldwork notebook performs not only as a vital apparatus of doing fieldwork and recording observations, but also as an archive, a direct record of the field experience, which is by definition emotional and often requires improvisation (Davies and Spencer 2011; Cerwonka and Malkki 2007). Field notebooks are direct witnesses to and indexes of what goes on in the field.

Many experienced fieldworkers however would testify that sketching and drawing in the field are not simply acts of documentation, but they are analytical acts of thinking deeply and carefully about the object of observation. With the introduction of digital media to fieldwork, digital humanities opened new opportunities such as sharing and publishing raw fieldwork data. While one could never imagine in the past including field notebooks in the final publication of a research project, today it is becoming more and more common for scientists and researchers to incorporate this material to their presentation through creative web interfaces that provide open access to research project databases. Hand-held video cameras have opened the possibility of video diaries and other new media for documentation. Therefore, in this workshop, we are not only interested in analog notebook but open to digital forms such as “noteblogs” and mixed use of media.

Contemporary debates on the ecological and heritage crisis, global warming and the new proposal for the onset of the new geological epoch of the Anthropocene, urges academics and scholars in the social sciences, humanities and the arts to develop a new ethics of collaboration, and alternative methods of engaging with the field. The field of engaged/public humanities require scientists to collaborate with local communities around the world, rather than treat them as objects of research. In this sense, it is timely to re-think and evaluate the notebook / noteblog as an apparatus, within different methods and strategies of fieldwork and explore the potentials for an increasingly responsible, ethical, and politically engaged work on the ground.

Find me at

Burak Taşdizen
Orient-Institut Istanbul
Susam Sokak 16, D. 8
TR—34433 Cihangir – Istanbul
phone +90—212—2936067 ext. 128


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