Deniz Kurtel greets me with a big hug behind her trailer, parked a stone’s throw away from the East River. It’s the first time we’ve met, but she embraces me like an old friend. She motions for me to follow her up the ramp into the back of her darkened trailer. Normally I would hesitate to accept such an offer, but Deniz’s warm demeanor and velvety Turkish accent are hard to deny. Inside the tiny trailer it’s pitch black. I trip over a dozen wires, stumbling into an alternate world. I’m surrounded by a ceiling-high vortex of vacillating LED lights. Purple, Green, Red, Fuchsia, Blue. Each transcending through the perfectly cut prisms of glass and mirrors. Kurtel calls the hidden light sculpture, her traveling Introspectacular LED Experience, which she is driving across the country on tour for her latest album, The Way We Live. The lights go out momentarily and we begin the interview in the dark.
“When you look at the trailer from outside, people can’t believe you can come inside and experience this,” she laughs. Kurtel built the sculpture in two weeks for Miami’s Art Basel back in November and decided to show it afterwards at her friend’s club the Electric Pickle. It seemed natural to bring it on tour, although it was something she never planned on doing. Out of a big sheet of mirrored plexiglass, Kurtel sliced long rectangular strips and frosted the edges, placing tiny LED bulbs inside to build the seven-foot high structure.
Deniz posed outside her traveling trailer.
“The diffusion and reflections from the mirrors behind the see-through plexiglass makes the space feel so much larger than it is.” She motions to the mirrors, which reflect countless Kurtel talking heads back towards me. “It was a big challenge to make this thing in the trailer. I spent hours trying to make it completely straight. The first time I drove it everything started bending.” She’s been constantly updating the sculpture since November, bringing an interactive component to it. Audience members can control the pace and colors of the LED lights using a midi-interface. The keys on the midi-interface send a signal to her Ableton software to produce different notes pre-assigned to certain colors.
“This is the first time I’ve done something where the audience can directly control the lights. I like creating these hypnotizing environments where people get completely channeled and distracted from the real world.” she says. “The way I’m interpreting it is facilitating an inner journey. It’s not just about the patterns it’s about the distraction to connect with your inner self. People sometimes come in here to meditate.”
Inside Deniz’s mobile installation
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