With the uprise of mobile devices, the infrastructural needs of the telecommunication industry have exploded, and since the 1980s, cell towers have started to fill the cityscapes. The scenery changed dramatically when the first antenna was transformed into an artificial pine tree in 1992 by a company called Larson Camouflage: a company that had worked for Disney.
Disney and the term “Disneyfication” has a certain tradition in sociology and is used to describe the consumer-oriented transformation of the environment into a spectacle. Jean Baudrillard writes in his essay Simulation, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and America surrounding it are no longer real but of the order of the hyper-real and of simulation”. Baudrillard’s observation that the relationship between simulation and reality is radically twisted in California points to this transformation and its effects on our perception.
The images from the series Second Nature show artefacts of the digital age that became a part of the Southern Californian landscape. These camouflaged communication and surveillance infrastructures can be described as a “societal preference for ‘fake’ aesthetics over ‘ugly’ reality” (Amy Clarke).
Işık Kaya was born in Turkey and currently lives in the United States, where she is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts at the University of California San Diego. Işık’s lens-based practice explores the ways in which humans shape the environment. Her work focuses on traces of economic infrastructures to examine power dynamics in built environments. By framing her subjects exclusively at night, she accentuates the artificial and uncanny qualities of urban landscapes.