Performance Noctographic Memory 




My diary is made of carbon paper.

Carbon paper was invented in 1806 to make writing easier for the visually impaired. While the rest of us believed that the human eye could see a distance of 48 km, in 2015 two scientists proved that this number was actually 2.6 km. And it is said that about half of the human population has bad eye-sight. As luck would have it, a family with roots reaching as far as 1500s Venetia, who possesses sight with no bounds made a promise to the humankind, “Each day we will write to you whatever it is we see in the horizon; we will tell the tale of the roads and the walls hidden from the sight of the rest of the folk.” Rumor has it that their lines were braided, their word was lost in time. Now the roads that link us are folded
paper garlands.

My diary is made of carbon paper. I turn the pages and hope for a good fortune.

In March 2018, Dogan Media Group, the largest media company in Turkey, composed of 4 TV channels, 4 newspapers and numerous magazine publications was sold to the state supported Demiroren group. Noctographic Memory was produced as a response to this event. It questions the assignment of the production of history to select individuals and troubles the separation between individual experiences of the near past, collective memory and the construction
of history.

The interactive performance instrumentalizes the Turkish tradition of coffee grain reading, hourglasses, helium balloons, sandcastles, newspapers from the month of the performance and a noctograph[1] to trigger participants’ memories of the near past and proposes an alternative to the established form of recording history.


1 A noctograph is a wooden frame that was invented in the beginning of the 19th century when quills and ink were the main tools for writing. Initially intenteded to help the visually impaired in writing, the noctograph became widely used for writing in the dark. One would put a blank piece of paper in the bottom of the frame and layer it with a sheet covered in carbon. Instead of using a quill and ink, a metal stick would be used to press on the carbon paper which would create an imprint on the blank sheet below. Noctographs disappeared with the invention of the pen but carbon paper stayed in use for decades and was instrumental in duplicating documents. A noctograph was made for this performance.



DATE April 2018
DURATION  7 hours 

EXHIBITION Immaterial, curated by Simge Burhanoğlu and Seyhan Musaoğlu
LOCATION Mamut Art Project, Istanbul












Twenty red helium balloons were tied to hourglasses and placed in the performance space. A table in the back of the room carried newspapers from the month of the performance, Turkish coffee cups and plates, bags filled with sand, a noctograph with carbon paper and small wooden sticks. The participants entered the space and sat among the red balloons.

The performer picked up a newspaper from the stack and read the date and headlines.

She asked the viewers to write on thin strips of paper incidents that took place at that date which was significant enough to be a headline for them.



When done, the viewers were asked to build sand castles using the Turkish coffee cups and embed the strips of paper in them.















The participants were asked to exchange their sand castles and destroy them to reveal the strips of paper. After reading them, they were asked to approach the noctograph. The performer put the first page of the newspaper  on the noctograph and covered it with carbon paper. The participants were then asked to use the wooden sticks to write the text they received on the noctograph.
When the task was completed, the performer removed the newspaper from the frame and cut it into strips. She weaved them together to make paper garlands.










The performer attached the garlands to the strings of the red balloons. As the the garlands weighed the balloons down, she cut the strings that connected the balloons to the hourglasses, creating a floating network of borders.
The performance was repeated seven times.
As time passed, the balloons deflated and sank, grounding the borders they were attached to.







Mark