Film and credits

Suki Chan, Istanbul, 2010
High Definition video

This pilot film is inspired by a dream of the 17th century Ottoman Evliya Celebi, whose hunger for spiritual nourishment led him on a lifelong journey across the Ottoman Empire and beyond.

Travel may be considered a form of acquiring knowledge as well as an expression of spirituality, for example on a pilgrimage the unknown and ineffable are pursued with devotion. During the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, science and religion flourished together; the quests for truth and knowledge of the world were pursued on their own terms - often attained through observation of the patterns and laws of nature. Unlike our more secular times in the West, the relationship between learning and faith was strongly entwined. Hence Byzantine and Ottoman architecture expressed humanity’s desire to connect with and understand the universe.

In this film, Chan explores the typology of religious spaces in Istanbul, from the Privy Chamber in the Topkapi Palace Museum, where sacred relics are kept, to the Hagia Sofia, a Byzantine church that became a mosque in the Ottoman Empire and is now a museum. Filmed with timelapse photography on a motion control rig, light is captured moving across Iznik tiles. Domed ceilings spin, mimicking the movement of radio telescopes that observe our cosmos.

The avant garde films of Nathaniel Dorsky explore the relationship between religion and cinema: Dorsky posits the idea that “the film itself is the spirit or experience of religion.” Like Dorsky, Chan is interested in the potential of film as a transformative medium. Her recent films investigate our relationship with monumental buildings on a physical and psychological level. This new film continues her exploration of the way we experience space and how architecture can become a projection for reverie and meditation.

Filmed & Directed by:
Suki Chan

Sound Design:
Erik Skodvin

Ersu Pekin

Shoot Supervisor & Post-production:
Andrew Hunwick

Motion-control Rig:
RIchard Sykes

Suki Chan

William Lau

Research & translation:
Caroline Finkel

Shoot assistance & translation:
Ilke Tandogdu
Aytaç Demirci

Commissioned by Maslaha as part of the British Council’s 'Our Shared Europe Project.'

Special thanks to Raheel Mohammed, Natalia Chan, Martin Rose, William Chitham, Eymen Homsi, Topkapi Palace Museum, Ayasofya Museum and Tintype Gallery.

The excerpts from the film are as follows, taken from his account of the dream that led him to embark on his first journey:

dest-i ┼čerifine küstahane | leb urup |
I insolently kissed his hand | pouring forth tears; |

diyecek mahalde | "┼×efa'at ya Resulu'llah" |
instead of saying | “Intercession, O Apostle of God!”,

mehabetinden | dimi┼čim | heman | "Seyahat ya Resulu'llah" |
Overawed ['from awe'], | I said, | unthinking, | “Travel, O Apostle of God!”

Heman | Hazret tebessüm idüp |
Instantly | the prophet smiled,

"Sefa'at─▒ ve seyahat─▒ ve ziyareti | ve Allahümme yessir bi's-sihhati ve's-selame" | diyüp | Fatiha didiler.
“Intercession and travel and pilgrimage | and God bless him with health and peace!” | he said | [and] recited a Fatiha.




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