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

Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

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.

Title: Colors of Tiruvannamalai
Photographer: Dinesh Khanna
Medium and format: 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.

For more information contact EtP at project365@etpindia.org / http://www.etpindia.org

Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified lifestyle of an ancient Tamil town.

Title: Children of different gods
Photographer: Ami Gupta
Medium: 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.

For more information contact EtP at project365@etpindia.org / http://www.etpindia.org

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified lifestyle of an ancient Tamil town.

Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified lifestyle of an ancient Tamil town.

Title: Director’s Anecdote
Photographer: Abul Kalam Azad
Medium: Digital
Year: 2014 / 2015
Courtesy: EtP Project 365 public photo archive

EtP PROJECT 365 is a public photo-art project that collectively creates and preserves photographic visual of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified lifestyle of an ancient Tamil town. All images published in this page is a copyrighted property of the author and is part of EtP Project 365 public photo archive. Prior permission is required for commercial and other public use.

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.

For more information contact EtP at project365@etpindia.org / http://www.etpindia.org

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified lifestyle of an ancient Tamil town.

Mukhamukham – Bangalore

Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photograph on the screen ‘Life in cycles’ by Biju Ibrahim / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives

The next stop for traveling Mukhamukham, was the much favored garden city, Bangalore. THALAM, a partner of PROJECT 365 was organising the event at their space at Domlur on 15th November 2014. By that time, the project 365 team had different experience having met with diversified audience. The audience weekly presentations at Kalai Illam, were a mix of local rural audience, informed artists as well a few international visitors who were passing by this ancient town. Children from neighboring villages enthusiastically ask for and participate in the event. MUKHAMUKHAM – Tiruvannamalai by Vamsi books had a gathering of about hundred local audience, many of whom had seen photographic art presentation for the first time. Also, seeing photographs of their town, and oftentimes their own photographs was received enthusiastically. This is an important dimension of Project 365 and one of the project photographers Senthil Kumaran Rajendran mentioned during his presentation, “Photographs will be taken. Printed and then exhibited in urban galleries / art spaces or shown to the potential collectors, and sold or stored for selling…. photographs of rural India, often become exaggerated exotic presentation, created specifically to cater the needs of urban International buyers and audience…. Photographers never get an opportunity to show our photographs with our own people… the land in which the photographs were taken… the one who is photographed never knows what the photographer does with the photographs… But in project 365, photographs of a town are collectively taken, shared with the residents of the town, and more than that, the prints will eventually be exhibited and preserved by the public…That is the profoundness of this project that encouraged me to join this initiative. I am proud to be part of this vision.”

Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographer Selvaprakash Lakshmanan / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Pee Vee, Project 365 Photographer and co-founder of Thalam / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 Photographer Shibu Arakkal, Photographer Biju Ibrahim also seen / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives

The audience for MUKHAMUKHAM – Thrissur were art students, who had remained silent for the presentation to be completed and soon after which, long discussions were held one on one. Armed with this diversified exposure, the team was looking up for the upcoming event with the urban audience. Pee Vee, co-founder Thalam and Project 365 photographer had taken complete charge of the event, which also gave the team an opportunity to explore other galleries and art spaces. The intimate space of Thalam shared by forty photo enthusiasts was indeed ideal to fully present the vision of Project 365. Noted designer and Photographer Ramu Aravindan, one of the leading photographers of the project was present. Photographers Shibu Arakkal, Selvaprakash Lakshmanan, Arnav Rastogi, Biju Ibrahim, Iqbal MK, Bhagyashri Patki, Vinay DV, Pee Vee, Jiby Charles and Shiv Kiran presented their works and their journey as a photographer. The audience stayed back long after the event was over and engaged in lively conversation with the photographers. The team received enough energy to move on with the next MUKHAMUKHAM event to be held at Andhra Pradesh, thus covering the four modern states of tri-sangam period Tamilakam. Project 365 Director Abul Kalam Azad said, “A photographer is always behind the lens, and rarely do they get the opportunity to present and speak about their works, their life and journey as a photographer. Mukhamukham is a platform for the upcoming photographers to share their emotions and dreams, learn together and grow. Developing the culture of appreciating the life and works of a photographer is important aspect of this event. I am happy with the overwhelming response MUKHAMUKHAM event has been receiving. Many are approaching us to present MUKHAMUKHAM at their institution / space. We will somehow manage our time between proceeding with our shooting work in Tiruvannamalai and traveling to different parts of our country.”

Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 Photographer Vinay DV / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 Photographer Bhagyashri Patki / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographer Biju Ibrahim / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
The audience – Photographers Ramu Aravindan (second row left) Bhagyashri Patki, Iqbal MK, and Project 365 Manager Tulsi swarna lakshmi) / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 Photographer Jiby Charles / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographer Iqbal MK / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM - Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Project 365 Photographer Shiv Kiran / Traveling MUKHAMUKHAM – Bangalore / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives

Mukhamukham covered by Bangalore mirror http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/others/Coming-face-to-face-with-near-extinct-techniques/articleshow/45153216.cms

Photo enthusiasts interacting with Photographer Ramu Aravindan / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP archives
Photo enthusiasts interacting with Photographer Ramu Aravindan / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP archives
Photo enthusiasts buying Project 365 merchandise / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP archives
Photo enthusiasts buying Project 365 merchandise / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP archives
Project 365 photographers Selvaprakash Lakshmanan (left) and Jiby Charles (right) / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographers Selvaprakash Lakshmanan (left) and Jiby Charles (right) / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographers Shibu Arakkal, Arnav Rastogi, Biju Ibrahim and Shiv Kiran / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP Archives
Project 365 photographers Shibu Arakkal, Arnav Rastogi, Biju Ibrahim and Shiv Kiran / Photography (C) Pee Vee / EtP Archives

If you are interested to host MUKHAMUKHAM at your institution /  art spaces / organisation, do contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com

Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi, Manager 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 research 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

Project 365 partners
Project 365 partners

Notes from a photographer #2

Wendel Field

American Painter who lives in Tiruvannamalai

Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013
Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013

Today, I would like to present Wendel Field, an American painter who has spent almost 15 years in India. Wendel Field is born in Indiana, United States. Wendel’s mother was an artist and his cousin was an art historian… the inherited art legacy was palpable in Wendel at a very young age, and he started painting when he was just 4 years old. Wendel didn’t opt for a formal art education until he was in his late 20’s and studied art in Indiana University. Meantime his passion for art grew exponentially and he says with a chuckle, “I can’t stop [painting]”. In the year 1970 Wendel visited India for the first time. He says, “Making a very long story short, one day, somebody came to my home and said, here is the money… Go to India … I came to Pondy and then heard of Sri Ramana and came to Tiruvannamalai. I stayed almost 9 months and didn’t return until 1990s. Since then I visited Tiruvannamalai every year. In the year 2012, I moved to Tiruvannamalai”.

During his first visit to India, Yogi Ram Suratkumar became Wendel’s best friend. They used to hang out every night. Those times Yogi Ram Suratkumar was living in the streets. Most often he hangs out near the temple. Almost everyday Wendel used to meet Yogi Ram Suratkumar and often travel with him to nearby villages. He fondly recollects, “Yogi never used to talk about spirituality. He was very funny, innocent like a child. He has the best laugh I have ever seen and heard…. Whenever people ask questions about spirituality rather than giving a straight response, he used to poke them. People often miss the pun”. When asked about Yogi’s interest in art, Wendel said, “He used to see and enjoy my paintings. I remember one of his comments. Once I was doing a painting of spiritual images of different religions.. he looked at it and said, ‘actually you should make those tits bigger’. Although I had a hearty laugh, it did make sense to me, as the full image of that woman goddess would look much better with his suggestion.” Wendel’s experience with Yogi along with one of his painting has been featured in a chronological book on Yogi done by a community in Arizona. The first four chapters discuss wendel’s memoir of the Yogi.

Painting by Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013
Painting by Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013

Wendel does a lot of commissioned works. Wendel did his first portrait of Ramana when he was just 19 years old. When asked about his repeated inclusion of the spiritual subjects in his paintings, he said, “To me, it is the Mystical Realism… a combination of what is in a photograph and also something more that is not in a photograph…”

Abul Kalam Azad

8th October 2014

Tiruvannamalai

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 and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer:

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the Abul Kalam azad and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Text transcribed by Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi (C) 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