Photos reflect post-industrial revolution stories
HATİCE UTKAN ÖZDEN
Altan’s photography focuses on telling us about mysterious places in the world, making us look through his eyes. We see how humans destruct nature and how nature resists the destruction and flourishes again.
Altan follows many different scenes in the world such as Kazakhstan, Aral Sea, the U.S. city of Detroit, Wales, the U.K., Japan’s Iwate prefecture and many more. In a way, he likes to show us his way of seeing the world through shots of abandoned places. However, rather than telling the stories of these places, he prefers to open a new visual point of view for the viewer. His photography can be defined with a few words: Dark, mysterious and catalytic. While looking at his photographs, it is almost impossible not to think about a catalyst scene from a Cormac Mccarthy novel, like “The Road.” Creating such colors, what Altan wants us to dig in is a world that we create in our minds.
Places that Altan visited and photographed have been chosen exclusively by the artist. He sometimes used guides to travel to those places and sometimes researched everything about them. During his travels, Altan sometimes discovered different places and sometimes waited hours to catch the best shot. Even though each place has a story, the story behind those places is not essential for the viewer to know. As a photographer, Altan only wants the viewer to see what he tries to reflect.
“In fact what we see is how humankind devastates nature and how nature strikes back again. Even in the most industrial places I have seen buildings that have been covered with nature,” said Altan.
“Each place has a story. For example, I photographed Chernobyl and many different places, but I am not interested in the story behind these places,” he added.
According to Altan, his photographs are not trying to tell stories. “First I research these places and then I travel. I am after a shot that reflects the area in the best way.”
Some places are hard to reach. One photograph in particular is very important in the exhibition. Altan travelled with a guide. The place is a mine and used as an automobile graveyard in the U.K. The place is hard to reach and almost impossible to get to without a guide. Altan, on the other hand, traveled there just to catch one shot that would satisfy him. To take this photograph, Altan entered a cave. The cave is full of vehicles thrown over each other. The cave is dark and there is only one ray of light coming from outside. The surface of the cave is full of water and the light coming in reflects on the water.
From a personal angle to collective consciousness
Each photograph is a part of Altan’s personal point of view. For him, this is important.
“I really do not want the viewer to know where exactly these places are. The important thing is how I see these corners of the world. I want viewers to discover their own points of view while looking at these shots.”
In a way, what Altan is trying to do is open a new way of seeing for the viewer. His photography book, published by Norgunk Publishing House, is another important aspect of the exhibition. In the book, there are no names of the places Altan visited. According to Altan, photography is a language and he is trying to show us his own personal point of view.
In a way these photos show us our need and ambition to change the environment and dominate it. However, Altan said, as soon as humankind leaves the environment, nature takes over. The photographs also demonstrate the power of nature. While on the one hand, we witness how humans have done everything to create and produce what they need; we see the world of the post-industrial revolution.
Even though Altan is not willing to put the stories of the places in words, he is successful in saying these stories through visuals.
The exhibition can be seen through Dec. 15.