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What is ‘From Below’?

What is ‘From Below’?

We are watched by cameras installed from above, our screens are filled by product placements, our daily life is under surveillance. But how about surveillance from below? Can we look at streets, protests, archives, campuses, screens with a gaze ‘from below’? Altyazı Fasikül made a call and filmmakers, video-activists, artists responded. From Below series will stream a new video around these questions and issues every Thursday.

Click here for information and streaming dates of the series’ videos.

Turkish Directorate General of Security’s order on 27 April 2021, right before May 1st International Worker’s Day, to illegalize visual and audio recordings at protests created a heated debate. Documentarians, video-activists and journalists reacted to this order, saying “We are here and we are on record”. State council decided on a stay of execution on this order, which was followed by an appeal filed by Turkish Directorate of Security and Ministry of Internal Affairs. The extent of discussion on this issue is wide and it directly effects our daily life, political existence and labor processes of everyone who holds a camera, but especially of those who work on such fields.

Documentarians, video-activists and journalists reacted to Turkish Directorate of Security’ order, saying “We are here and we are on record.”

Drawing courage and inspiration from voices against this order, we curated ‘From Below”, a series of 10 videos that contemplate the importance of recording, witnessing, creating a collective memory, intervening, chronicling, remembering, and reminding through audio-visual tools; and will do so by using these audio-visual tools themselves.

Audio-visual material recorded by civilians and ‘broadcasted’ via social media, such as in the cases of George Floyd and Rodney King, has triggered major social movements, exposing the violence committed by law enforcement officers to the world. Similarly, in the cases of Ali İsmail Korkmaz and Kemal Kurkut in Turkey, the images captured by passersby and even surveillance footage were as influential as the footage recorded by journalists in shaping public opinion.

From the recording of Rodney King’s murder.

From Seattle to Tunisia, from Gezi to Columbia, civilian journalism and ‘surveillance from below’ play an important part not only in judicial processes, but also in creating collective memories and strategies for resistance. From feminist struggle to queer visibility, we can obverse the effects of personal recordings and using social media as a platform on a daily basis.

On the other hand, we live in times in which the concept of ‘personal data’ is constantly transformed via the state apparatus. Using a dense network of street surveillance and consumer data, ‘surveillance capitalism’ intensifies its ‘hegemonic gaze from above’.

As everybody holds a camera and the images keep piling up; what becomes more important is the distribution of these recordings and what they become in which hands, rather than the recordings themselves.

Waiting for Hasan (Alper Şen)
Above: Nothing Outside the Frame (Oktay İnce)
Below: Side by Side (Aylin Kuryel), Mercy (Halil Yetiş), Untitled (Deniz Buga)

From Below is a video series where we would like to think about visibility and invisibility of what we call a “recording” within this complex frame of meanings. Our intention is to crate space for a variety of examples – both by content and form – that shine a light on politics of the image (and the mechanisms of domination they operate under, their spaces of freedom and limits to those spaces etc.).

The first video from Altyazı Fasikül: From Below series will be premiere at 24 March 2022 and we will continue to stream a new video every following Thursday. The stream premiers will start at 19:00 and will be followed by a live talk session with the video’s director at 19:30. The series, which will start with videos from names such as Aylin Kuryel, Alper Şen, Oktay İnce, Halil Yetiş, Fatma Çelik and Deniz Buga; will extend the conversation further than the theoretical context we mentioned above and touch upon issues like the Migros Struggle, hot war, media censorship from Turkey’s recent history and dilemmas of reel politics.

We sincerely hope to grow each others’ voices louder within this project, created by the use of visual and audial tools themselves, in a world where our spaces of expression continue to diminish.

Click here for some of the questions that were circulating our minds while we were creating From Below, which we also shared with the directors selected for this series.