I have visited Istanbul once. In 1996 I had just graduated from the Willem de Kooning Art Academy in Rotterdam and was able to spend a few days in Istanbul. On that trip I made the second instalment of the series I called ‘Virtual Journeys’. For this I walked from Topkapi Gate to Topkapi Palace taking about 100 pictures with my analog Nikon F-501 SLR Camera. Those pictures have lain dormant for many years until a few years ago when I processed them. See the results here: Virtual Journeys – Istanbul

The Yunus Emre Institute (https://koln.yee.org.tr) in Cologne that I got into contact with last year now invited me to revisit Istanbul and document the same walk 28 years later. This resulted in 900 pictures on the walk and over 1500 pictures in total.

Impressions of the 2024 Istanbul visit


Between the pictures taken in 1996 and the ones in 2024 there are 12 locations where photos were taken from almost the same position. With these 12 photos pairs I wanted to explore the possibility to show both the past and the present. As I did not simply wanted to repeat what I made before I experimented with combining the images of the past and the present. In the end result I have layered multiple versions of the images to show both times together. A complex overlaying showing and hiding parts of both 1996 and 2024 photos. They process also shows my own development between the two photo sessions. I was surprised how little pictures I took on the initial walk in 1996 and how much more I focus on details nowadays.

The combination of both pictures show the spirit of the past flowing into present day Istanbul.

Layering buildup

The layering of these pictures are build up following the same format. The topmost layer shows parts of the image of 2024, these have no overlay and appear bright in the image. The second layer is the image taken in 1996 at a transparency between 30% and 45%, here you can see some alignment of object in both images. The alignment is different in all images. In some there is only a partial alignment of one building or tree while in others there is an almost 100% alinement, for example the last to ‘gate’ images. Next is a cutout layer of 2024 at 100% where there are parts removed to reveal the next layer. Layer number 4 is again 1996 at 80% transparency, this enables sections of 1996 to be clear visible alike the 2024 overlay layer. The final layer is the 2024 image at 100%, this provides a slight ghosting to image of 1996. To enhance the ghosting of the overall in a final adjustment layer the channels for red, green and blue are shifted. This colour-layer shift further removes the photorealism of the total image and replace that with a VHS video misalignment.


The works created will be presented at the Exposition „Impressionen und Stadtspuren“ Bilder zu Köln, Istanbul und Tunis. at 8th of November 2024 organised by the Städtepartnerschaft Köln-Istanbul e.V. Curated by W. Rieger and with the support of the Yunus Emre Institute and the city of Cologne. Other artists in this exhibition presenting their works are : Karin Engele, Necat Nazaroğlu, Gülüzar Cicek, Holger Schnapp, Rita Kropp, Wolfgang Rieger