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.
Filmed & Directed by:
Shoot Supervisor & Post-production:
Research & translation:
Shoot assistance & translation:
Commissioned by Maslaha as part of the British Council’s 'Our Shared Europe Project.' thebookoftravels.org
Special thanks to Raheel Mohammed, Natalia Chan, Martin Rose, William Chitham, Eymen Homsi, Topkapi Palace Museum, Ayasofya Museum and Tintype Gallery.