Yitik Bir Şehrin Görsel BelleğiMete Çamdereli
Bir kentin belleğini okumak, onun göstergelerini okumayı, diline ve söylemine sokulmayı gerektirir. Kentler başlı başına bir söylemdir ve kendilerini gizlemez, apaçık ifade eder; mevcut ve geçmiş durumunu kendi uzamında dillendirir, göstergeleri vasıtasıyla söylemini inşa eder, muhatabıyla aracısız iletişim kurar. Kentin kültürünü ve kimliğini içkin belleği, onun söyleminde saklıdır. Kenti okumak, onun söylemine nüfuz etmekle, söylemini anlamaya ve anlamlamaya çalışmakla mümkündür. Kent söylemi, mimariden gravürlere, oradan fotoğraflara dek bir dizi görsel birikimi de kapsayıcıdır. Yitik görsel birikim daha çok bugüne kalabilmiş görüntüsel bellekte koruma altındadır; ve, korunduğu ya da korunabildiği kadarıyla okunup anlaşılabilirdir. Görsel birikimin görüntüsel tezahürleri çoğukez fotografiktir. Fotoğrafik görseller kentlerin görsel belleğinin bilgisel verileri olarak işlev görürler. Bu çalışmada, bir kentin, gösterenlerle örülü ilksel fotoğrafları incelenmiş ve onların söylemi okunmaya çalışılmıştır. Bu yapılırken kentsel bellek, kentsel fotografik bellek olgularına temas edilmiş ve okuma işlemi, fenomenolojinin desteğinde göstergebilimsel yaklaşımla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Kentin fotografik yüzeylere yansıyan görsel belleği, bu çerçevede, bir şehrin kurucu mekanlarından hareketle okunmuş, kült yapılarla birlikte ayrıntılara da bakılmıştır. Herbiri bir işaret taşı niteliğindeki bir çatının, bir kiremidin, bir saçağın, bir duvarın, bir kapının, bir merdivenin kentsel bellekte ne denli önemli olduğu belirlenmiştir. Ayrıca, ilksel fotografik şehir görüntülerinin bugünü öteleyen eskil bir şehir dokusu inşa ettiği görülmüştür. Kurucu unsurlar olarak ‘çeşme ve şadırvanlar’ın, şehrin merkezinden taşrasına doğru suyu ve sesini bir medeniyet ikliminde yaydığı, ‘camiler ve minareler’in şehre berrak bir kadim şehir kimliği kazandırdığı, ‘evler ve sokaklar’ın biriktirdikleri zamanı şehrin sesi ve dokusuna bıraktıkları tespit edilmiştir.
Visual Memory of a Lost CityMete Çamdereli
Reading the memory of a city requires reading its signs and being inserted into its language and discourse. Cities are a discourse in themselves; they do not hide themselves but express themselves clearly. They express their current and past situations within their own space, construct their discourse through their own signs, and communicates with their interlocutors without intermediaries. The immanent memory of a city’s culture and identity is hidden within its discourse. Reading a city at any level is possible by penetrating its discourse and by trying to understand and make sense of it. Urban discourse also encompasses a series of visual accumulations, from architecture and engravings to photographs. Lost visual accumulations are mostly preserved in the surviving visual memory and remains readable and understandable insofar as it has been able to be preserved. Visual manifestations of visual accumulation are often photographic, with photographic images functioning as informational data of a city’s visual memory. This study examines the primary photographs of a city woven with signifiers and attempts to study their discourse. While doing so, the study also touches upon the phenomena of urban memory and urban photographic memory. The study is carried out using the semiotic approach as supported by phenomenology. In this context, the article studies the visual memory of cities as reflected on the photographic surfaces of the founding places of a city, looking at the details alongside cult buildings. The importance of a roof, a tile, an eave, a wall, a door, and a staircase, each of which are landmarks, is determined in urban memory. In addition, the primary photographic city images are seen to have built an ancient city texture that transcends the present. Fountains, especially large fountains as founding elements, are seen to spread water and sounds from the center of the city to the countryside in a climate of civilization, while mosques and minarets are seen to give the city a clear identify of an ancient city, and it has been determined that ‘houses and streets’, when they accumulate, leave the sound and texture of the city.
The value that a roof, a tile, an eave, a wall, a door, or even a staircase possesses becomes clear when observing the visual memory of a city within the various spaces reflected on photographic surfaces for the purpose of study. Primary photographic urban images, each of which is a landmark, are understood to conceal an ancient urban fabric from the early to mid20th century. The fountains and wells that have been focused on as the primary photographic space organizers with reference to time, spread water and sound to every living thing from the center of the city to the countryside; while doing so, they also spread the codes of culture and civilization that they had accumulated up to that day in the city. Meanwhile, mosques and minarets have been determined to give the city a clear identify as an ancient city, while houses and streets added the time that had been accumulated through the streets and shops to the sounds and textures of the city. Phenomenal dead-end streets unviewable in photographic reality, as well as wells, fountains with troughs, wooden mosques, courtyard arrangements with kitchens, neighborhood relations, bazaars and markets, artisan morality, and peddlers’ shouts can appear in one’s memory based on existing photographic landmarks and can also be imagined using the phenomenological approach. This is similar to dreaming of the respect shown to a tree for centuries, the mercy felt toward a human being in a porter’s stone, or the mercy of birds in an ornamental fountain. This is even similar to dreaming of the shopkeeper’s conversations around a well, the solidarity of the neighborhood around a flowing fountain, the equitable meeting of animals in a trough, the excitement of children accumulating around a halvah or boza seller. Such images are valid for many cities as well as here. However, with the uniformization and homogenization of cities, much effort is now required to find and write a sentence about a feature that distinguishes one city from another. Witnesses from the periods of photographic images have suggestive slices of visual memory. On one hand, they allow such phenomenal dreams, while on the other hand, they open the door to empirical inferences. Accompanied by complementary phenomenological fantasies, they provide the opportunity here to identify the remnants of a lost civilization, the remains of a civilization of water and sound. Fountains and minarets alongside a clock tower describe the sounds, culture, and identity of a city. The harmony they produce together builds the sound and unchanging melody of the city, determines the life training as a harmony of movement for the citizens, and nourishes the minds and hearts of generations like the water of life. The metaphysics of a city are interwoven through its sounds, and its physics are interwoven through its architecture. These join the city with the sounds of minarets and clock towers, as well as with its architecture, with their vertical heights strengthening the central imagination. The center is visible from all sides; it is the great mosque, the most massive of all with its vertical height. The symbol of the center corresponds to the great mosque, while also referring to the nature of being an administrative, commercial, and judicial center. In this case, the great mosque of the city embodies the image of a universal world that completely embraces the city and, in a way, determines the qibla as the mihrab of the city. Such a richness of imagery, symbols, and function as a dense gathering place makes no one feel the need for a separate secular square in the center of the city. Establishing a symbolic structure in an urban space means creating a new sustainable imagination and leaving it to the collective memory of generations. Just like a secular square, a new avenue, or new street to be opened, the quest to expand the center will mean dissolving the physical and spiritual ties of the people who’d originally built the center, removing the city from its central identity or giving it a brand-new central identity, and building a brandnew central culture of life. Whether with the intention of creating new spaces or opening up and renovating or relaxing the central structures, purifying central structures from their surroundings transforms them into objects of spectacle, evolves them into a mediocre memory from the past, has them lose their grand narrative, cuts them off from their past or ancestry, and abandons them with their own story, isolating them as lonely structures. These will become anachronistic landmarks that have lost their cultural value. Renovating streets or renaming street names; changing cemeteries to create parks and recreation areas; displacing a bakery, cereal shop, or halvah or pastry shop to facilitate the passage of buses; and sacrificing a promoter, a counter, or a saddlery shop can all cause urban memory trauma. While leading to change and renewal, a city’s renovation, rehabilitation, or even degeneration will directly affect the codes of urban memory and at the same time cover the original city identity with new codes of memory, leaving a brand-new urban identity to be defined free from the old city’s identity. The new culture of urban life will rehabilitate the perception of the city and build a new urban memory that has changed its shell, namely a new urban person. Upon building the new urban memory, the original city’s photographs become the death certificates of almost non-existent cities or the records of the destruction of a lost city. However, they also continue to remind one of the existential debt to lost cities as the memory custodians of an urban discourse that cannot be redundant. The earlier a city met with photography, the more fertile its primary photographic visual memory, and the richer its function as a reminder of the primeval times they had accumulated. Cities that are not embodied in photographic spaces are worthy of being referred to as cities with missing visual memories or as cities with lost and scarred visual memories. The lost cities that can preserve their ancient imagination, stories, and symbolic references even on photographic surfaces are worth remembering as cities to be mourned in proportion to their charms. This article attempts to read the visual memory of a city and to understand and interpret its spatial structure based on primary photographic surfaces. The final analysis has revealed in the simplest terms through the witness of photographic places that cities are changed very frequently and alienated from themselves thoroughly. Cities have been determined to live in photographic spaces that can be seen as invisible cities, to whisper the city to life in today’s urban people, and to pronounce the image of a pleasant city.