Images courtesy of the artist
Turkish illustrator Emin Mete Erdogan creates painstakingly detailed mashups of modern architectural structures, and then augments them to massive proportions. In contrast to the short, two-letter signifiers (HC, GY, or AW) that serve as the titles of his sci-fi-esque architectural works, each of his paintings seems to encompass entire panoramas with their presences. Using a combination of classical and technical methods, Erdogan references similarly massive machines like the Large Hadron Collider, imbuing his illustrations witha level of detail that draws the eye deep into the worlds he has created.
Erdogan told The Creators Project that he thinks of his creations as "aimless structures," impossibly giant machines he conceived by "taking out [their] actual functions." He plans out the locations for his functionless tubes, arrays, and rivets by compositing collages of modern architectural masterpieces, technical graphs, or whatever else catches his fancy. He projects those composites onto a canvas, then traces over the projections, weaving the real patterns into non-existant machines. It's a combined process that straddles the edge between imagination and actuality.
Despite their concretized inspiration, Erdogan's work comes off like a photo series of industrial spaceship yards, urban future highways, or interstellar weapons thankfully beyond the scope of modern science. His training at both the Escola de Arte Antonio Failde in Spain and the Marmara University Institute of Fine Arts in Istanbul outfitted him with the artistic tools necessary to blend fine art painting abilities with the meticulous technical drafting techniques that form the basis of his current series.
The Creators Project spoke to Erdogan about the process of imagining these giant machines, the possible stories behind his series of structures, and why he views his paintings as "timeless":
The Creators Project: Each of your illustrations is massive in scope. What draws you toward imagining and painting these enormous structures?
Emin Erdogan: I’m trying to create a perfectly-united order which I want neither to add anything to, nor remove anything from. I’m constructing the bringing together of complex structures and the steps of constructions in my body of work. I am showing how an enormous and mysterious thing covers the areas over the horizon.
How do you go about planning your paintings with so much technical detail?
I design my work as collages on my computer. Later, I project the main largest parts to the surface that I’m working on. Finally, I draw the texture as a covering of all spacing—that I would say is my original image—as seen in all of my works. This texture shows the different machines, which are designed as collages, as if they were the parts of a whole that serves the exactly same purpose.
How would you describe your style to someone who had never seen one of your paintings before?
This series of work initially came out of the idea of combining the techniques of classical and technical painting. I made works consist of indoor buildings, which I can call contemporary designs. In these drawings, I reveal a web that makes visible the relation between the machines and spaces, and the correlation of the parts of machine with each other. Afterwards, these machines went outdoors so that we can see the light and shadow, and thereby the mass. I would describe these ones as contemporary landscapes.
What exactly are the structures you are drawing?
I am inspired by the buildings and structures generated by all the information and knowledge that humanity has ever reached. These are generally the mash-up/combined structures of buildings and machines which are serving positive sciences, and designed to answer big questions, like the CERN Hadron Collider, and so on.
Is there a backstory or larger world that you imagine the paintings in, or do they exist as separate works? What stories do your artworks tell?
I am receiving different feedback and comments from the people who have encountered my works. One says they resemble a future description from 2200, while another says they take after the same image of a Russian building which was used during the 2nd World War. In this respect, I see my works as timeless. In addition, I create my work as neither a critique of technology nor an affirmation of it. I believe a definite, sharp statement would harm the relation between the work and the viewer, but to stimulate the viewer’s sensations I would say this: a mysterious texture which covers all the machines indoors and the interior place itself, and in the outdoors, the same mysterious texture rises from the outline of the frame over the horizon by constantly changing and by being constantly under construction.
Where do you get your inspiration? What other architectural structures, fictional or real, have left an impression on you?
As a matter of fact, I get inspiration from different things and places. And the processes are not the same each time. For instance, I generated the piece that I am currently working on from the images that I collected when reviewing some charts and technical graphics on magnetic field, which appeared to me while I was searching a new alternative chemotherapy treatment.
If you could actually get one of your buildings built, which would it be?
I actually get inspiration for my paintings from real buildings. They're all made already even though not exactly and naturally the way I have constructed them. I am combining the machines as parts of a new intact entity, by transforming them, by taking out the actual functions of the machines. It would be much better for all of us not to build an aimless structure.
Check out Erdogan's other work on his website here.