Despite being a visual creative, Berke Yazicioglu’s biggest influences all come from music. “I’m more compelled to make work out of things I’ve heard,” he tells It’s Nice That, and in turn, Berke “makes images that have a capacity for sound.” The east London-based designer trained as a painter, but now applies a painterly sense of expression through design and animation.
“How do you convey a musical experience through pictures?” posits Berke. The designer explores this concept through The Rite, based on the pagan ritual performed in Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The chaotic score is known for its turbulent musical composition that marks the arrival of spring. The music itself is “heavily layered and noisy, full of orchestral screams and darts” seen in Berke’s drawings which “mimic the crowdedness of sounds in the music and its colours” as interpreted by the creative. Berke depicts one drawing for each of the 13 scenes in the ballet, drawing on pagan symbolism that is also reminiscent of contemporary art nouveau interiors and Japanese block prints.
When the ballet was first performed in 1913 with original choreography devised by the avant-garde Vaslav Nijinsky, the performance caused a “near-riot” in the audience due to the experimental nature of the dance. Berke’s drawings capture the intensity of the controversial ballet, charged imagery of sexuality and purity overlap with Celtic-esque compositions in an innovative visual recreation of the rebellious score.
Berke often explores the interaction between red and blue in his dynamic work. “It’s a coupling with associations in every direction,” he says, with the potential to “look both in agreement and in opposition to each other.” Although the colours do not oppose each other on the colour spectrum, they are in fact, on opposite ends of the wavelength chart; blue has the shortest wavelength and red the longest. “So, they’re kind of like the black and white of colours because every single other colour is between them and they can amplify forms and proportion.”
Berke also approaches his drawings like a design process. With a technique that “designs drawings” Berke pays no attention to a compositional hierarchy between foreground and background. Instead, he sees each “component as equally valuable and should be equally functional” as a result. This is also seen in the project titled Frisia which reimagines the “now-collapsed kingdom of Frisia” that controlled trade across the North Sea, then known as the Frisian sea. Today, the civilisation has assimilated into Holland and there are sadly no “historical accounts of Frisian culture from a Frisian point of view” even though it played a role in shaping the European culture that we know currently.
In Frisia, Berke creates a visual language and graphic identity for the lost country. The visuals draw on motifs that are associated with Dutch and French design, the cultures most closely related to Frisia’s, and makes a point that cultural imagery only survives because of a “survival as sovereign identities.” The graphic series acts as a reminder that “history is relative” and the notion of “an objective story that supposedly unifies everyone involved” is a fallacy. Cultural identity will always be informed by other nations as seen in Berke’s nod to Dutch and French design in this visual identity.
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