Art as a vessel of science

Turkish artist Pinar Yoldas is committed to educating through her artworks inspired by biological sciences. “Education is the only mass weapon we have to address our global problems and to bring about solutions,” she said

18 October 2017

Pinar Yoldas

She had her first solo painting exhibition when she was five. Turkish artist Pinar Yoldas, based in the US, communicates science through the language of art. “I think it is different than just letting myself draw whatever image is on my mind, there is a need to control or rather direct your creativity towards the subject matter,” she says. 

“Archipelago” (2015). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

“Architect by training experienced designer and spatial thinker”, who uses “architectural installations, drawings, kinetic sculptures, and even sound”: this is how Pinar Yoldas describes herself. An example is her project “Archipelago” (2015), set up in the entrance foyer of the Rudolf-Virchow Centre, University of Würzburg, a leading German research centre in biological sciences. 

The focus is proteins, which are “the building blocks of cellular function and the gatekeepers between health and disease”. The artist’s aim is to create vessels for concepts of life and death, desperation and hope; where sound, light and geometry work in tandem, in an “archipelago” of sculptural objects of various sizes.

“Ecosystem of Excess” (2014). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

In “Ecosystem of Excess” Pinar Yoldas develops a shocking idea inspired by plastic soup, the Pacific Trash Vortex discovered by Captain Charles Moore in 1997. “If life started today, in our plastic debris filled oceans, what kinds of life form would emerge from this contemporary primordial ooze?” she wonders.

“Ecosystem of Excess”, detail (2014). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

Pinar Yoldas imagines evolved organisms eating and metabolising plastic: pelagic insects, marine reptiles, fish and birds. They are “a new Linnaean order (way of organising living things) of post-human life forms, which has turned the toxic surplus of our capitalistic desire into eggs, vibrations, and joy,” observes Pinar. 

“The Very Loud Chamber Orchestra of Endangered Species” (2013). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

The Very Loud Chamber Orchestra Of Endangered Species” is a collaborative art-science work. Pinar Yoldas explores the impact of environmental degradation on animals. It is a spatial data visualisation project, built with skulls of various species, which informs on pollution and habitat loss.

“The project addresses two main questions: how do animal populations and communities respond to anthropogenic forces? How can one make the consequences of human disturbance on other species more visible, audible, noticeable?” she explains.

“Lattice disruption” (2017). Credit: Bozar, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels

For her work “Lattice disruption”, Pinar Yoldas delved, in some way, into her past as a bronze medal winner for organic chemistry in the national science olympics when she was teenager in Turkey. The artist was inspired by the possibility of capturing CO2 from the air to turn it into fuel and useful chemicals, and thus reduce the ambient greenhouse gas at the same time. Pinar Yoldas collaborated with scientists working for the FET project DIACAT, who are using man-made diamonds to mirror the photosynthesis of plants for the carbon dioxide conversion.

She depicted the complex process in symbolic works of art, produced under the FEAT programme supported by the EU. In Lattice disruption “I used programming to show how a lattice diamond structure can be distorted and turned into a visual experience”, the artist tells youris.com. The work was recently on public display in Brussels, at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts.

“Saltwater Heart” (2015). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

For the 14th Istanbul Biennial themed "Saltwater" and held in a city-wide exhibition on the Bosphorus, the artist worked on “Kaptan Pasa”, a 20-year old passenger catamaran, used as venue. Inspired by the blue whale anatomy, which is almost the same size as the 45-metre boat, she built an externalised circulatory system using water from the Bosphorus. A creation that “could beat in rhythm to a blue whale heart,” said Pinar.

“Saltwater Heart”, detail (2015). Credit: Pinar Yoldas

By Sorina Buzatu