Orkan Telhan, MFA Media Study '08

Orkan Telhan.

Current Positions:
Assistant Professor of Fine Arts – Emerging Design Practices
University of Pennsylvania


Orkan Telhan is interdisciplinary artist, designer and researcher whose investigations focus on the design of interrogative objects, interfaces, and media, engaging with critical issues in social, cultural, and environmental responsibility. Telhan is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts – Emerging Design Practices at University of Pennsylvania, School of Design. Telhan is working towards his PhD in Design and Computation at MIT School of Architecture and Planning. He was part of the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Laboratory. He studied Media Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo and theories of media and representation, visual studies and graphic design at Bilkent University, Ankara.

Telhan’s individual and collaborative work has been exhibited in a number of venues including Ars Electronica, ISEA, LABoral, Archilab, Architectural Association, Architectural League/ NYC, and the MIT Museum.

Telhan is part of the sparc collective.

What vital experiences at UB / DMS helped shape who you are today?

Media Study introduced me to the world of interdisciplinary thinking. While I was at DMS, there were really few places in US academia that had the resources and the intellectual infrastructure to support this pedagogy within arts. I was able to work with anything from virtual reality to robotics and discuss the implications of my work in light of critical theory, tactical media, architecture, and design.

How would you define Media Study as a graduate of DMS?

Media Study never had a definition for me, and it will probably never have. It was always vague and constantly changing, and open for new possibilities. And this pretty much allows you to make whatever you want out of it — either a secret hideout for your ambitious project that you can slowly build in years, or a boot camp where you can learn pretty much anything you want from UB and Buffalo.

While at DMS what other programs, departments or regional events / activities did you engage and how did they inform your perspective as a maker?

While at DMS, I was mostly involved with the Architecture Department, particularly the Situated Technologies Group, and the Visual Studies program, which was the Art Department at that time. Both were key in shaping my thinking and still a vital source of inspiration with their research.