Films I burnt consciously, photographs I took randomly, various papers...
Interview: Şener Yılmaz Aslan
Who is Melih Dönmezer, what does he do, could you tell us a bit?
I was born in 1991. I live in Eskişehir. I graduated from Anadolu University Management Faculty in 2014. For the time being I am junior at Open University Photography and Videography department.
Taking photographs at first was a relaxing activity in order to record the places I visited, myself and the people around that carried no stress or anxiety as it does now. However, as time passed it became a necessity for life and behavior that affected and changed many factors about my life and personality. That is why I can say I am addicted to take photographs. In my spare time I am interested in collage if not too often. In the beginning I worked to cover my ugly furniture but then these furniture are disposed and I started to collect all my works in a notebook. I try to complete that notebook whenever it comes to my mind. For the last few months I began filming places I photographed before. Most of my time passes like that.
Where does your photography passion come from?
When I was a child I did not like to be photographed and I used to make an uneasy or a crying face in most photographs. Every studio visit ended with an incident. As I got older I have been totally uninterested. I do not think I can find even 5 photographs belonging to my high school years. I had very few photographs of myself, environs and the places I visited. This lacking was in fact a reason itself. In the autumn of 2009 this indifference in the past turned into an enthusiasm and I started taking photographs almost everyday. By the increase in my interest I began looking both at my own photographs and the photographs I see on the internet and printed materials in a different way. I was interested in the works about the early periods of finding. I used to look for photographs all the time and compare them with the photographs I take. I analyzed the film scenes I enjoy like they were photographs by pausing them. In this period I started to think that photograph could have a lot more properties than just being a record unit. I can say that they all share the impact.
Did you start producing photographs with stains when photography got you interested?
There is a self-portrait I posed wrongly unconsciously. I took it in 2011, after 1 year I began being into photography. My face is visible on more than places of the surface, some part of it is so bright and some so dim. Light is dispersed unbalanced. The pattern of the bag and the cupboard behind me reflecting on my face over the window is processed on the photograph. This photograph that came to life as a result of a false experiment kept giving unexpected results each time I applied processes. Technical difficulties occurred during the production of photograph and interferences directed towards the processing put the image into an unlimited space of transformation. And this made it more exciting. This self-portrait was a turning point and with it I started giving weight on stains, patterns and reflections that I can add consciously on the photograph, falsely posed images.
Does this photography approach completely belong to you? Are there any inspirations?
I separate my photographs into two periods. In the first periods I tried to stick to the traditional technics no matter what the vision’s quality would be. The subject I photographed had to be net and smooth. It was attracting to get visions comprising a realistic form and natural colors on the surface. My aesthetics doubts were only about those. If continued like that, we would not have this interview now because probably I would be worn out of taking photographs.
The second period and the approach I adopted realized with the abovementioned self-portrait experience. Visual elements that constitute the photograph mixed together and formed an image invisible to the naked eye on the surface. This self-portrait was more special than the photographs I took before. It was a photograph I have not seen before. The lacking of the functions of the camera increased the effect of environmental conditions on the vision. Everything I knew about photography got upside down. Sceneries, models, portrait photographs, all those I took began proving ordinary. After this stage I started to create more different experimental areas for me by uniting methods such as falsely posing and film burning, and traditional photography technics.
How does the process go on until you finish producing your photographs?
Within the process I try to evaluate all possibilities of analogue and digital platforms and use them as simultaneously as possible. Besides methods like reflections or posing on top of the other, I benefit from all kinds of visual materials that I could unite with the main photograph I scan and which could affect the result. Such as films I burnt consciously, photographs I took randomly, various papers. Behind remains uniting them with patience and balance. According to the visual visibility level of the image sometimes I get results with one single photograph.
Are there any photographers or artists you take as examples, whose works you find close to yours?
From the picturalism I say Robert Demachy and Heinrich Kühn. They have perfect technics that are hard to analyze, thus one cannot take as example. Therefore instead of taking as examples I admire all of their photographs. And of course Josef Koudelka.
If I say music and cinema, what would you say, who would come first to your mind?
During high school years I was a strict metal music listener. My clothes, things, attitudes were pitch black. I drew graffiti and listened to metal music. Then I stopped the fanaticism and I started listening to the type of music I said I would never listen before. Music is like the sun. It is a universal source of energy and has a big impact on the process of my photographs achieving the results.