ABOUT

As an artist-scientist, I follow my curiosity to understand how we observe and perceive the physical world around us, how we think visually and process the perceived information in our dreams and how we reflect and express these dreams creatively.

Short:

Mert Akbal is a Berlin-based artist and researcher from Istanbul. He is affiliated with three German academic institutions: Saar College of Fine Arts (Saarbruecken), Graduate School of European Dream Cultures at the University of Saarland (Saarbruecken) and Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Leipzig). His artistic research focuses on visualising cognitive processes and has been presented on numerous platforms such as on Prix D’Arts Robert Schuman, at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, by IEEE in Boston, at ISEA 2016 in Hong Kong and at the ZKM Karlsruhe.

Medium:

Mert Akbal is a Berlin-based artist and researcher from Istanbul. His artistic research focuses on visualising cognitive processes. He is affiliated with two German academic institutions: Saar College of Fine Arts (Saarbruecken) and Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Leipzig).

His artworks and research focus on visualising of cognitive processes, the reproduction and representations of ongoing processes and concepts in mind and brain, suggesting „cognitive arts“ as a definition. He presented two theses in various art and science platforms: on „Oneiric Dream as the Missing Visual Expression Organ and Visual Arts as its Prosthesis“ and on „Curiosity as Driving Force of Creative and Intellectual Processes“.

His research has been presented at several international conferences such as the Regional Conference of International Association for the Study of Dreams 2012 at the University of Bern, at the “International Symposium of Psychomotoric / Performance / Interaction” in Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in 2012, at the “Conference on Norbert Wiener in 21st Century” by the Institute Of Electrical and Electronic Engineers in 2014 in Boston, USA, at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2016 in Hong Kong and at the „Real of Reality“ Conference 2016 in the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe.

His artworks have been shown at many exhibitions and festivals. Among them is the Filmfestival Max Ophüls Prize ‘2004 in Saarbruecken, the Landeskunstausstellungen of the Saarland ‘2008 and ‘2013, the Nationaltheater in Bucharest in 2007, the Amber Art and Technology Festival 2012 in Istanbul,, the Prix D’Arts Robert Schuman ‘2013 in Saarbruecken and Transmediale Vorspiel ‘2016 in Berlin. He was awarded the Luxembourgian video art award Octobre Rouge Mention Speciale in 2008.

Long:

Mert Akbal, born 1980 in Istanbul, graduated in 2005 from the interdisciplinary Saar College of Fine Arts (HBKsaar) in Germany after studying painting, performance and media art. Currently, he teaches digital media art at HBKsaar as a research fellow and works on his PhD project „Artistic Reproduction of the Oneiric Dreams“ as an associate member of the Graduate School of European Dream Cultures at the University of Saarland. Furthermore, Akbal is a research fellow of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive Sciences working at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. He is involved in designing, conducting and analysing of neuroscience experiments in virtual reality simulations, on topics such as the impact of heartbeat cycles on arousal, perception and memory; allocentric and egocentric spatial orientation in simulated environments; and the relationship between measured stress and the memory capacity of stress.

His artworks and research focus on visualising cognitive processes, the reproduction and representations of ongoing processes and concepts in mind and brain, suggesting „cognitive arts“ as a definition. He presented two theses in various art and science platforms: on „Oneiric Dream as the Missing Visual Expression Organ and Visual Arts as its Prosthesis“ and on „Curiosity as Driving Force of Creative and Intellectual Processes“.

In his first thesis he argues that the oneiric dreams are “creative poetic simulations” that form an evolutionary precursor in the emergence of a hypothetical “visual expression organ”. The function of this visual expression organ is comparable to the function of a monitor that is absent in the body of mammals, in contrast to, for example present in the body and on the skin of squids and octopuses. Furthermore, he suggests that the visual arts act as a “prosthesis” to compensate this missing visual expression organ, adopting the creative and poetic methods of dreams.

In his second thesis he presents „curiosity as the driving force” of all creative activities. Art, science, philosophy, and other disciplines of culture are all driven by curiosity to create knowledge and initiate change, they just employ different methods. Curiosity, however, is also a universal motivation that breaks the inertia moving towards change, evolution and complexity.

He has presented his research at several international conferences such as the Regional Conference of International Association for the Study of Dreams 2012 at the University of Bern, at the “International Symposium of Psychomotoric / Performance / Interaction” in Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in 2012, at the “Conference on Norbert Wiener in 21st Century” by the Institute Of Electrical and Electronic Engineers in 2014 in Boston, USA, at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2016 in Hong Kong and at the „Real of Reality“ Conference 2016 in the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe.

His artworks have been shown at many exhibitions and festivals. Among them is the Filmfestival Max Ophüls Prize ‘2004 in Saarbruecken, the Landeskunstausstellungen of the Saarland ‘2008 and ‘2013, the Nationaltheater in Bucharest in 2007, the Amber Art and Technology Festival 2012 in Istanbul,, the Prix D’Arts Robert Schuman ‘2013 in Saarbruecken and Transmediale Vorspiel ‘2016 in Berlin. He was awarded the Luxembourgian video art award Octobre Rouge Mention Speciale in 2008.

In addition to his research, Akbal works in collaboration with various institutes on projects that revolve around themes of culture, technology and education, especially the prevalence of open-source culture. Since 2006, he conducted numerous workshops in Germany, Turkey and in other European countries, especially with target groups from socially and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, who have less access to digital production tools.

He is trilingual (Turkish, German and English).