Cappadocia, Land Of Brain Melt


Was lucky enough to spend a week in Cappadocia ( from Persian: Katpatuka meaning “the land of beautiful horses” ) recently. Easily the weirdest physical location I have ever been, so many odd shapes and silhouettes, windows and doors where the eye doesn’t expect to see them, hand carved rooms to climb around in, that lead to more of the same, but different, and surprisingly for it’s desert climate, food growing in every spare bit of land – watermelons, grapes, corn, sunflowers, herbs etc etc. Apparently the soft rocks that make up the region are deposits from ancient volcano eruptions millions of years ago, which people carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. There was around a million people living there at some point, but it’s now populated by sparse villages of a few thousand each, which leaves vastness to explore in between. Stayed at an enchanting village, Goreme, cafe with wifi, weird 3 storey melty rock buildings surrounding it in every direction, the option of walking back in time after breakfast – what’s not to love?

Other Cappadocia lovables?
Going Up...
They have an International UFO Museum.
And a hair museum.
They have lots of hot air balloons.
They have a long, extended,crazy history.
And pop culture likes it >>
Guess which civilisation is being referenced in the name chosen by Wu Tang Clan’s “Cappadonna”?. ( Go the Wu Tang Clan! Check out Cappadonna’s voiceovers in the the Wu Tang Clan overdubbed Kung Fu feature film, Iron Fist Pillage for more Wu Tangent ).
iron fist
“In The Simpsons episode “Brother from Another Series,” the character Sideshow Bob grudgingly acknowledges the Cappadocians as the only “civilization in history [that] considered hydrodynamics a calling.” This referred to the Cappadocians being famous for underground cities, although not specifically dams.(via wikip)

And yes, they have underground cities.
See BLDGBLOG for a rad post about the extent of Cappadocia’s hand-carved underground cities. Only managed above ground weirdness this time, but met an interesting German man Bernd Junghans, who has been exploring the region for six years and documenting all of the ancient churches and monasteries he finds there, with a photographer friend. One recent discovery was made because he wanted to go to the toilet behind a bush, noticed a hole low down in a wall, went inside and found himself facing a monastery! He said the publically accessible underground cities go down 8 levels, but that he knew where to get access to a 20 level underground city, but it involved crawling through a lot small holes. Crazy collection of photos – of spaces – discovered by these two. Locals say there are hundreds more, even thousands, of these ancient buildings and that many people keep private that a hole in the back of their house leads to such a cave, because they don’t want government interference.

Naturally, all of the above made an excellent filmic backdrop for people in monkey masks and squid costumes, as well as providing some of the weirdest projection surfaces that could be hoped for. Especially when the two projectors in use are strapped to the side of a car which has a generator in the boot, the car is travelling along a hill-peak dirt road in between weird rocks, one laptopper in the back triggering video, laptopper in the front controlling the two VMS Video Mirror Units also mounted on the side of the car ( enabling the projections to be moved around with software, swinging to hit whatever targets seem ‘interesting’. )

road projections

(above – the view when you have projectors instead of headlights. Could you drive down a dirt path @ 30-40km/h like that? I got in trouble for the white dot footage… Kept hearing this manic voice from front of car, the driver’s seat : ‘what are u doing?! this is crazy’, which I was eventually to understand meant the fast moving white dots projected on the road were very disorienting. Good time to mention there was also a girl on the bonnet, filming.)

Artificial Eyes post on the adventure, and as usual, well photo documented along the way, including the plastering up of Todd Synesthete’s unfortunate wrist-break. Photos for day one, two and three and four – which ended with projections on a cliff face with hand carved rooms in it.. see day+night photos below…


UPDATE : Recently uploaded a 5 minute clip I made after the trip, ‘Cappadocia skies‘, set to music by Swedish wunderkid, Extraboy.

Autobot Roulette:


  1. Will says:

    can you give me any other names of underground city experts that you came across in cappadocia? im planning a trip over there as part of a fellowship and am looking for contacts. thanks!

  2. […] Am doing a live AV set with Synesthete( 1 x Mr.Todd Thille from Artificial Eyes ) midnight, sat 22nd. Will feature filmed fragments from recent Cappadocia adventures, Australian car-wrecks, animated squids, Japanese TV shows, sampled Turkish instruments and Artificial Eye’s new software 3L ( Thrill – about to become the new benchmark for real-time 3D software ), all hopefully bundled into something vaguely compelling. […]

  3. […] That place in the Turkish desert full of melted rock buildings? That’d be Cappadocia. Was lucky enough to wander around it bug-eyed in 2007, during a stay with Istanbul’s Artificial Eyes. Crazy, enchanting, otherworldly place ( even aside from the “International UFO museum” set inside a cave building ), a desert full of hollowed out mountains – which makes it an amazing environment to explore on foot, or if your birthday happens to fall during a visit to the renowned hot air balloon mecca, from the skies above. […]

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.