Empathy Sessions
5th Istanbul Design Biennial

Stream of Consciousness / The Caves of Hasankeyf

Emmy Bacharach, 2020
6’ 
no dialogue

Designed as an immersive experience and film, this work explores the threat to Hasankeyf, an ancient city in south-eastern Turkey by the Ilisu Dam. Since the work’s creation in November 2019, the dam has caused the water levels of the Tigris river to rise and flood the town. The work represents Hasankeyf using photogrammetric material collected from the site, providing a unique record of the caves in digital form, and exploring the potential of virtual reality to create empathy across different societies, geographies and life forms.

Taking a non-anthropocentric viewpoint, the work explores the relationship of water to human settlement, focusing on the Tigris river, which made this fertile region home to the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia. The water that has nourished the land and the people here for millennia is now being harnessed for hydroelectric power – an infrastructure project that will have massive ecological ramifications for the region.

The experience is composed of two elements: ‘Stream of Consciousness’, which follows the river through the mountainous landscape, and ‘The Caves of Hasankeyf’, which leads the viewer through a series of caves as they become submerged, the distorted noise of water creating an eerie post-human soundscape.

Created during Connect for Creativity residency in Istanbul, Turkey, in partnership with ATÖLYE and the British Council.

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