Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

Director's anecdote / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archive Tiruvannamalai
Director’s anecdote / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archive Tiruvannamalai

 

Title: Director’s anecdote
Photographer: Abul kalam azad
Medium and format: 35mm Digital
Year: 2014 / 2015
Courtesy: EtP Project 365 public photo archive

EtP PROJECT 365

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified Dravidian society of ancient Tamilakam, a region comprising modern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

இ. டி. பி. ப்ராஜெக்ட் 365
அதி வேகமாய் மாறி வருகின்ற நவீன தமிழ்நாடு, கேரளம், புதுச்சேரி, கர்நாடக மற்றும் ஆந்திர மாநிலங்களை உள்ளடக்கிய பண்டைத் தமிழகத்தின் சமகால வாழ்வுமுறையையும், கலாச்சாரத்தையும், பன்முகத்தன்மை வாய்ந்த திராவிட சமூகத்தையும் புகைப்பட பதிவுகளாக பாதுகாக்கும் ஒரு பொதுமை புகைப்படக்கலை திட்டமே ப்ராஜெக்ட் 365.

EtP പ്രൊജക്റ്റ് 365
അതിവേഗം മാറ്റങ്ങൾക്ക് വിധേയമായിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന ആധുനിക കേരളം, തമിഴ് നാട്, കർണാടകം, പുതുച്ചേരി, ആന്ധ്രയുടെ ചില ഭാഗങ്ങൾ എന്നിവ ഉൾപെടുന്ന സംഘകാല തമിഴകം പ്രദേശത്തിലെ സമകാലിക ജീവിതരീതികളും നിലനില്കുന്ന സംസ്കാരവും വൈവിധ്യമുള്ള ദ്രാവിഡവേരുകളുള്ള സമൂഹവും കേന്ദ്രീകരിച്ച്‌ ഫോട്ടോ ദൃശ്യഭിംഭങ്ങൾ സൃഷ്ടിക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന ഒരു പൊതു സാംസ്‌കാരിക കൂട്ടായ്മയാണ് പ്രൊജക്റ്റ്‌ 365.

Disclaimer

Close encounters: 365days myopic view

{ Essay on photography by Arjun Ramachandran, a media student with interests in cinema and photography. 365 days myopic is a smart phone photographic series done by photographer Abul Kalam Azad, as a contribution to Project 365 public photo archive Tiruvannamalai. In this unique, expansive body of work Abul records the everyday life in the ancient town, Tiruvannamalai. Abul is the Director of Project 365, and co-founder of Ekalokam Trust for Photography.}

Since the advent of digital technology and its fast growth, we have been carelessly misplacing or erasing much of the images we produce, “safely” storing them in the long forgotten floppy discs, CD drives, USB drives, old mobile phones, cameras etc. Photography, which is essentially a print, has been stripped of its traditional alchemical quality and longevity, and has almost completely become mere virtual intangible images. While this digitization has undoubtedly democratised the medium and stretched the horizons of thought of its practitioners, the danger is, in an instant, the innumerable casual-yet-valuable images that are being made can be lost forever to our future generations.

Digital recording is, largely, mere magnetisation of a material or optical marks made on a surface. The unwanted and untrue connotation that the word “digital” has acquired is that it is only presentable on a screen; “digital” only really means quantised, non-continuous data. On the basis of this misunderstanding, we have been storing digital images for the purpose of virtual viewing alone and by nature, digital recording is much more vulnerable to damage compared to analogue (read continuous) recording. A stray magnetic field is enough to wipe out a hard disk.

Even though several thousand photographs are being taken every day, by nearly everyone, only a very few provide thoughtful and focused efforts to preserve these photographs like yesteryear epigraphical documentation or other iconographic motifs for the benefit of future generations. This is as much an effect of seeming unnecessity and non-viability as it is of gross negligence. Documents are only valuable for those who see a use for it many years down the line, and not for those who do not intend to pay a second thought to the matter. Smart phone photographs, therefore, seem trivial and replicable for the majority of the authors and as such, irrelevant. These photographs may not be printable in larger formats, may not be commercially viable, but in an archive, they serve well the intended purpose – a visual document of ordinary people and their everyday life in an ancient town.


Abul Kalam Azad has been making smart phone photographs as connecting anecdotes for project 365. He has created several hundred lo-fi images depicting the life and culture of this ancient town, recording routine or chance meetings, casual events or details of his own daily life. Project 365 public photo archives will be locally preserving these images for public access and research. Setting aside his expertise in analogue & experimental photographic works and after traversing through digital, painted, manipulated images, Abul has consciously shifted to smart phone image making in a bid to utilise its nuances.


Smart phone images readily seem to bring in an element of autobiography. The daily events are most often captured through them, almost always in a moment of subconscious composition and judgement. There is a lack of formality or any veil of pretention that a bulky professional camera might induce even though the pretentions and mannerisms of the “real world” remain intact, as the smart phone remains nearly invisible between the subject and the artist. Even in staged portraits captured on smart phones, the posture of the subject becomes much freer. The smart phone becomes something of a non-intervening observer, not affecting the system at all.

The myopic eye of smart phone demands that the photographer has to be within a certain “intimate” distance to take a photograph. There has to be a certain connection between the one who is being photographed and the photographer himself – using a smart phone to create portraits of people means that the photographer is not a mere witness; the one who is photographed often looks straight into the camera and thus, at the photographer. A reflection of the effect of eye contact between the photographer and the subject is captured in the portrait.


This presence of intimacy is what a spectator relates to in these images. As personal spaces become increasingly reserved and physical contact becomes restricted in a wave of conservative urban-elite influence, this welcome intrusion of a nonprofessional-appearing, smart-phone-wielding photographer into touching distances of the subject is a reminder of the extent of simplicity and freedom in human relationships.

Disclaimer: Photographs and text published in this post is copyrighted property of the author. Prior permission is required from the author for republishing and reprinting. For more information, contact Ekalokam Trust for Photography at admin@etpindia.org

Director’s anecdote – Periyakulam weekly chanda

“A peasant become fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand, is that the two statements are connected by an and not by a but” – John Berger

Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives

Vettavalam is a Panchayath town in Tiruvannamalai District. Periyakulam Chanda (market) is near Vettavalam, about 19 kms from Tirvannamalai. This is one of the very few active Sunday chandas in Tiruvannamalai District. Variety of  cattle, livestock, roosters, pigs, horses, goats, turkeys, rabbits, goose, etc., are arrayed for sales.  Hand made equipment, country vegetables, dry fishes, etc., also become part of this chanda. These color market is vibrant with life and activities. The market becomes active quite early. Pork is prepared and served, often times along with alcohol… one can see several men and women sitting in the sideways and eating. In the age of super market and online shopping practices, these kind of places continue to be a social gathering space. More like a festival, during the weekly chanda, people from neighbouring villages come together, share and laugh, sell and buy, and enjoy this ancient practice.

Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives

Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives

Not long before, animals were central to the existence of human beings. Not merely as leather and meat, but as an essential force that co-exists. Their entry into the life of humans was phenomenal. More as messengers and keepers of secrets, they communicated and started living alongside human beings. However, things have fast changed and now most of the animals are in zoos, distant and aloof, having been taken away from their natural habitation. In Tamil nadu, the animals continue to be used for many different purposes. Barter system is still prevalent in certain parts of the fast growing Tamil land. In many ways, the animals are still central to the life of these communities. However, this situation will soon change and animals will be forced to play a mere marginal role.  And, these animals might even become extinct, as their existential link with human beings is bound to change owing to the technological advancement.

Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives Periyakulam weekly chanda / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 public photo archives

By

Abul Kalam Azad

Director, Project 365

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis, Korkai and the Cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Text transcribed by Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi  / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com/ FACEBOOK – Project 365