Nursinem about graduating from ArtScience

6 July 2023

During the annual Graduation Show of the Royal Academy of Art the works of more than 200 graduates could be seen. The corridors and classrooms of the KABK were transformed into exhibition spaces. Among the exhibiting artists were also the graduates of the ArtScience interfaculty.

Nursinem Aslan is one of the students who graduated from this shared master's program between the conservatoire and the art academy. During the graduation show, she presented her work: A Very Personal Relationship Between Sound and Movement. ‘My graduation work was a performance that explores new possibilities of traditional musical expression and I wanted to find meaningful connections between sound and movement, especially by using technology.'

Free to choose
'My first year was a bit challenging for me because the education system at the academy was different from what I was used to in Istanbul. There, everything was structured with strict deadlines and tasks. But at the academy, we had a lot of freedom to choose our courses and what we wanted to explore. As an analytical and practical person, it was both exciting and overwhelming. But then I discovered that this open space was an ideal environment for self-discovery. So I decided to attend as many classes as possible from both the conservatoire and the KABK, considering it as an input year. And then, at the end of the first year, what I wanted to do with my research revealed itself in a completely different form.

There is an incredibly wide range of classes, ranging from molecular gastronomy to coding, to sound design, to collaborative courses with the TU Delft. So it is really diverse, and you can pick whatever you want, it doesn’t even have to be related to your research topic.'

'My research focused on the relationship between sound and movement. I wanted to discover new connections between the two and see how technology could enhance this relationship.

Dancers can use their bodies to trigger sounds, via sensors that are connected to certain computer applications. Most of the time when someone develops such a system it is a developer or a musician. Once the performer joins into the process, there is often a lack of explanation regarding how the system actually works. This makes it difficult for performers to have control over the system and understand its functioning. So one of my goals in this research was to create a common language between dancers and musicians, allowing them to collaborate effectively. I conducted surveys and worked closely with dancers to identify their needs and requirements to think of ways to create this in-between language. And to overcome the gap that I noticed between the two practices.

When I got to the end of my studies I realized that this research would need more time than I had within my studies, so I decided to postpone it to after my graduation. For my graduation, I chose to focus on my own instrument: the accordion. I turned the air into my dancer.'

Hacking traditional instruments
'Back in Istanbul, I did a bachelor's in accordion. The accordion, being my own instrument, provided a perfect starting point for my research. It is also a perfect fit because movement is of course very important for the accordion. Traditionally, the accordion is not often explored in experimental ways, which also sparked my interest. So, for my graduation, I focused on playing the accordion in an unconventional manner, using movements instead of the usual buttons. I used technology to amplify and manipulate the sound produced by the accordion. And the movement of the air created by me, playing the instrument.'

'It was a completely new system for me. I know now what effect it has when my shoulder moves in a certain way, or if I put my hand somewhere. Every time I do it, I am discovering something else. I made some pinpoints / handles within a structure that I am following, but my performance is mostly based on improvisation. I want to keep it like that, because that way I am also discovering new things.'

Graduation Show
'The Graduation Show was an incredible experience for me and my performance. It was a great chance for me to showcase my work and share it with a larger audience. I received many positive feedbacks and it was really nice to see their excitement and curiosity as they explored this unusual musical expression. Also being part of the Graduation Show gave me the opportunity to interact with fellow graduates and artists from different disciplines. It was inspiring to see the diverse range of works and exchange ideas with other creative minds.'

An ongoing project
'Most of the ArtScience students spend all their time in KABK, but I actually prefer to spend my time in the conservatoire mostly, by getting extra classes or working with my friends from Composition or Sonology.

After my graduation, I want to build a setup so that I can implement my system with other acoustic instruments. As a musician without any knowledge, you can still play your own instrument but in a completely different way, so it is a completely new world for you. You can discover new ways and new sounds, but you can still use your own skills.

In the upcoming years, I really want to deep dive into this research and develop my ideas further through projects. By exploring the connection between movement and sound, we can create new ways of composing, performing, and experiencing music that is more intuitive, expressive, and engaging. In Den Haag there are so many people who are already working on this subject, people over here are very open to collaborating, so I really want to stay in Den Haag for some time.

The ArtScience department has had a significant impact on my artistic journey. But the thing that exceeded my expectations is the community. Everybody is doing amazing stuff and is really supportive of each other. It really feels like an amazing family. This environment is important because you inspire each other, and it is important to know that there is always someone to help if you need it. Not only work-related, but we are basically doing everything together, collaborations, parties, vacations, festivals and we share job opportunities, push each other, and give each other motivation.'