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 Dravidian society of ancient Tamilakam, a region comprising modern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

Title: 360degrees ecology of ancient Annamalai Hill
Photographer: Jiby Charles
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

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.

Project 365 Tiruvannamalai One

Sufisim in Tiruvannamalai

Title: Sufism and Islam in Tiruvannamalai
Photographer: Iqbal MK
Medium: Digital
Year: 2014
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

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

Close Encounters – ‘Lo-Fi Photo Series’

Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives

These smart phone photographs are made by photographer and Project 365 Director Abul Kalam Azad as connecting anecdotes for project 365 that creates and preserves photographic visuals of the fast changing culture and lifestyle of a South Indian Tamil town Tiruvannamalai. He has been creating several hundred images portraying the life and culture of this ancient town and Project 365 public photo archives will be locally preserving these images for public access and research.

We belong to the generation that has been photographed intensely. However, very few of these photographs will be preserved. There is a greater chance that only one or two out of one lakh photographs will reach the print form. Since the advent of digital technology, and its fast growth, we have lost most of our images that are being safely stored away in the long forgotten floppy discs, CD drives, old mobile phones, cameras etc., Photography, which is essentially a print, has given away its traditional alchemical quality / longevity and has become mere virtual intangible screen images. The danger is, in an instant, these images can be lost forever to our future generations.

Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives

We also belong to the generation that is fast changing and growing exponentially. Our way of life, lifestyle, beliefs and practices are changing. The potential of this photographic medium is so high to document these paradigm shift moment. Even though several thousand photographs are being taken everyday by almost everybody, 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 our future generations. EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography) is dedicated to collectively create and preserve photographic visuals of these sublime images. That is the intent behind Project 365 and to achieve that, EtP has been properly archiving these smart phone and other lo-fi photographs. These photographs may not be printable in larger formats… may not be commercially viable… but they serve well the intended purpose – a visual document of ordinary people and their everyday life in an ancient town.

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, the photographer is not a mere witness The one who is photographed often looks straight into the camera and thus the photographer.. there is an unspoken conversation that connects these two, both becoming intensely present !!!

And, this intimate presence is what a spectator relates…

Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director's anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives
Smart phone photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Director’s anecdote / Project 365 public photo archives

(to be continued)

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 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 / project365@etpindia.org / FACEBOOK – Project 365