FEBRUARY 2011 ISSUE 4
All my life, I had the choice of hate and love.
I chose love, and I am here. - A R Rahman
Kannan K R
Saptarshi Das 4
Book review & Interview by Vishesh Unni
India Art Summit 2011
Review by Nidhi Srivastava
..7 The Dreamer Diaries ..9 Concert Calling..21 Sherry Vernet..31 Southern Delight..41 Project Canverse..51 The Rise of the Sword..60 Editorial
Dear Readers, Long consecutive sleepless nights, coldplay on endless loop, skipping college work, processing images & words, and being thrilled after talking to artists living hundreds of miles away, has finally resulted in 2011â€™s first issue of START! Writing this column is always left to the eleventh hour- just before the upload. By this time, I get impatient and am left with no words to fill in. This issue is a beautiful blend of images, music, stories, and desires. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it. After releasing each issue, I sit by eagerly waiting for the reactionspositive and/or negative. A big thank you to everyone who left behind a message, â€˜likedâ€™ the page on facebook and tweeted about it. A special thanks to HN Prashanth for helping me with the website and for being so patient every time. Promoting START is important because it focuses on people than gadgets, thereby conveying an important message in itself.
Priya Prakash email@example.com
22 year old English literature student from Kolkata. Likes to watch movies, read books, paint occasionally, shop, cook and do the usual things depending on her mood. But taking photos and traveling tops her list.
THE DREAMER DIARIES
Photography is my first love, although I started writing long before I picked up a camera. It began with newspaper internships in school, and by the time I owned my first film camera at the age of 17 I wanted to combine writing with photography. When I got my first DSLR two years back, I knew for sure I want to become a photographer. The work of other people - I am in awe of photographers like Roger Ballen, ParkeHarrison, Rodney Smith, and Eugenio Recuenco. I have also had the opportunity of working with photojournalists like Ed Kashi and Mark Edwards and that, more than anything, has given me a sense of direction as far as my work is concerned. 9
My blog started out as a kind of personal diary but overtime I have learnt the importance of privacy. Now I just use the blog to post photos or scribble about trips and other random experiences. I would love to be different from everyone else but I am not quite there yet. With more years of experience, hopefully I will have a distinctive style in photography.
I make it a point to go through a lot of photo blogs, books and magazines just to observe and understand technique. Patience is really the key to “creating” good photographs…patience to practice for hours and days and weeks for just one good shot. Taking good pictures is really not that difficult if you own a fancy DSLR. But a photograph has to be unique and not merely good. On my last trip I took about a thousand photos and was satisfied with only about ten and even then I don’t really know if they will make the final cut among good photographers – that is the kind of patience I am talking about. I have learnt to look at my work with a more critical eye and try to think like a professional and not let emotions take over.
Qutb Minar, Delhi.
I befriended cute little Amir outside Jama Masjid who was selling some kind of a fishy looking red drink. He smiled, and asked me to take his picture and told me heâ€™d give me a drink for free. Of course I declined the offer of the drink. 12
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur.
Jaipur was a discovery, I am in love with the city. Parts of it are insane, crowded and so fast that it is quite easy to get lost. Other bits are pink, old and have a story to tell. Rajasthan is a burst of colours, pigeons and people. Every nook and cranny, every ten minutes of walk, leads to a visual discovery. Rajasthan is just so much more than forts and palaces. The charm really actually lies in its people and the sheer colour burst. I think I want to go back to Jaipur and Jodhpur again and again. And never get tired of taking photographs, or walking the streets, or climbing the forts and shopping at every quaint little store. 13
Half way through this year I will probably lose a lot of the content feeling that I have inside of me right now. And all I need to do is go somewhere, and I will be fine again. 14
I hope to open my own photo studio in the next few years. I really want to concentrate on food photography and styling although I am not sure if that has much of a market in India. This really stems from an attempt to combine my love of food with photography. Having said that, I also want to work as a photojournalist or travel photographer, depending entirely on the assignments that come my way.
I have discovered one thing over the last few years â€“ I am happiest when I am taking a photograph.
21 year old Engineering student from Bangalore. 20
I got into photography in Jan last year when a friend of mineKunaal Bose (Who is doing incredibly well as a photographer, after he left CA) started a facebook group called â€˜Shutterbugsâ€™ and prompted me to join. Though just a facebook group, it was a great platform for amateurs like me. And with praise & criticism coming in, I really got into it. At the time, I had a 6 Mp Olympus with absolutely no options (epitome of point and shoot), and it was a challenge to shoot with it. The camera still amazes me with its quality. I guess I still believe that the camera has very little to do with the photograph.
Vishal Dadlani of Pentagram at the Invasion Festival.
The first band I photographed is one of my favourite bands â€“ Avial. Their music speaks to me at many levels even though I donâ€™t get a word of Malayalam. What followed after this was something totally unexpected- being chosen to photograph gigs all over Bangalore for Indiecision (nh7.in). Shooting more than 30 artists in the last 3 months has been an overwhelming experience. What I came to realize was that shooting was just a part of it allthe whole back stage action, interaction with artists, band managers and meeting people I never expected tois what it is all about. 23
The Prodigy at the Invasion festival
Concert photography can be a tricky affair due to many reasons. The light can be too low, the lights can change very rapidly, the artists move around too much, no space (God forbid mosh pits), issues with security & bouncers, etc. Letâ€™s start with camera settings. If you have normal digi-cam hopefully with some manual settings, then set the ISO high if the light is too low (like in the case of pub) and set a high aperture like f/1.8, f/2.0. Choose the shutter speed based on the light conditions. For DSLR users too, the process remains pretty much the same. Investment on a 50mm f/1.8 prime is a great start, as it one of the cheapest lenses and very effective in low light conditions. NEVER USE FLASH! It distracts the performers and- the shadows & smoke effects disappear. Try not to get swayed by the music too much, take your time to set the exposure correctly- after a few test shots. Lights keep on changing but they usually end up having a pattern, and are usually synced with the tempo of the song. One of the craziest bands that Iâ€™ve photographed are - Cyanide Cerenity & The Prodigy. Cyanide Serenity- with the two vocalist and the bassists running around in the mosh pit, it was hard to keep track of what was happening. The Prodigy concert- with 92 moving light heads the stage was a luminous explosion, and the contrast changing every few seconds. In such cases, burst mode is the best option. Most of the pictures will be under or over exposed, but frame them carefully and one of them is will be just right! 25
I started off as a street photographer, and I still love it. The thrill of capturing raw emotions was always a driving force. The conversations I’ve had with absolute strangers, people repairing watches, sitting down with labourers and talking about their life- are some the experiences I’ve had all thanks to my camera. Hailing from Delhi has exposed me to capture a varied demographic. The harmonic chaos of old Delhi is something that has always allured me. Any trip to Delhi is incomplete without a trip to Chandni Chowk with my friend Sujit Thomas, lunch at Al Jawahar and then evenings at Jama Masjid. This is something I want to tell everyone – VISIT JAMA MASJID!! It’s one of most serene and peaceful places I have ever been to. Kids running around, people reading newspapers, travelers exploring, view of the Red Fort- are some things that even the camera cannot capture and need to be experienced first-hand. On the flip side, there is concert photographywhich was the beautiful amalgamation of the two things I love the most. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Besides having access to artists and great music, capturing their moment, and in turn becoming a part of it, is a feeling which is hard to explain. 27
Gear: Canon EOS 1000D Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
In the future, I will be continuing shooting concerts, hopefully with better lenses!
Ito 22 year old digital artist from Chennai.
SHERRY VERNET I’m no good at telling stories about myself and my art, and I flinch to use that word because “art” makes you think of something substantial, something grand and certainly not something you’d create for casual entertainment and to stave off anxiety episodes, right? It’s like trying to tell stories about your knitting, not that I can loop two threads or a yarn together and the needles are never sharp enough to serve other purposes but I’m digressing so yes, I’d rather talk about this time I was at this bookstore called Name Withheld and met this very delicate girl. Except women are too often objectified as trophies and prizes and conquests and prey so let me amend that, I met a very delicate, beautiful boy and if you’re going to judge me for that I’ll be judging you right back for being a close-minded bigot, so I hope we’ve gotten that out of the way. I was never much of a conversational person so I picked up a book on the world’s greatest speeches and flipped to a page in the middle and chanced upon Total War by Joseph Goebbels. I glanced over at the boy sitting on a bar stool at the coffee counter, he was clutching open Sputnik Sweetheart with his pretty little fingers and was that a Dior scarf? Goebbels’ speech was on page 402, something about that number tickled my memory lobes but I was distracted, did the vans ever run from Auschwitz or am I confusing it with Chelmno? 31
I get caught up on the terrible things, someone I had a stillborn conversation with once asked me if I liked to internalize all the sick shit I could find, all the human tragedies, all the shock sites on the internet just so I could regurgitate it into art but I donâ€™t know where he was coming from, since my art reminds me of Edmund Dulac and fairytales and Mark Ryden if Edmund Dulac, fairytales and Mark Ryden were incredibly mediocre. Maybe he has a point, but I wish my art was more like my direct influences, like Francis Bacon and Joel-Peter Witkin and Masahiro Ito but I also wish I had an excellent conversation opener right now.
the great advertisement Collaboration with a friend, Kai. 32
Oh, and I never answered his question because I knew he was disatrously straight, not that I’m prejudiced or anything because after all, I go the movies alone these days, and I go alone because people are sick of listening to me dissect every cliché and trope and character trait and depiction from a sociocultural perspective and pointing out explicit and implicit – isms all over the screen and script and casting and whitewashing but I suppose I get to eat the whole tub of popcorn so it’s not all bad. I knew I should start talking to this twenty-something pretty little thing before he grows disillusioned with Murakami and finishes his mocha and takes off to a less literary atmosphere. I should dazzle him with my knowledge of Nazi eugenics and inquisitional torture devices and perhaps he could be my Eromenos except we seem to be roughly around the same age, and I had a sudden vision of myself as Salvador Dali except enormously less talented but nonetheless sporting a moustache and living a half-life with a woman named Gala whom I will profess to love while this lovely boy will go get himself
shot by a death squad in a civil war, but it’s all art, maybe degenerate but still art, so it’s all fine and I realized that the pounding of my heart mirrored the way it was beating when I tried SAI Paint instead of Photoshop for the first time and discovered the smooth, almost syrupy nature of its drawing tools and perhaps conversation is moot by this point and I should go home and paint him, because all I paint is fan art these days and perhaps a few original characters from some original stories that are too busy dodging blocks and walls like a stupid game of snake played with an AMD Radeon™ HD 6870 graphics card, and that reminds me I should get around to finishing Fallout: New Vegas, but I just don’t want it to end, you know? I took the choice to blow up Megaton City in Fallout 2 just because I wanted to inspire my onlooking friend, she said nothing really spurs her creative instinct as much as seeing things end terribly, perhaps it’s the primal need to see poppies spring up where ashes once lay, and not just for the opium of course, and maybe she had a point but I also like letting iTunes shuffle do the job instead. 33
It’s only by the time I reach Goebbels calling for every person in the hall to rise up and let the storm break loose that I realize the pretty little nickel of my eye has finished his coffee and is checking the book at out the billing section but it’s okay because I can go home and watch plenty of Doctor Who and Torchwood and write a little poem about rescuing him from aliens and cannibals and probably get distracted with drawing fan art of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in compromising positions, but it’s fine, it’s all fine, and that Dior scarf was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I’m glad it was on an extraordinarily beautiful person.
Grindelwald and Dumbledore, because they're my OTP for life and forever.
Superfag Drawn on photoshop
Fallen London Calling. Inspired by BBC'S Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in Echo Bazaar's Fallen London.
Dalilorca with eyeflowers
Inspired by the movie Little Ashes. 38
Kannan KR 19 year old B.Com student from Alappuzha, Kerala. Likes to photograph, sleep and watch movies. Dislikes waking up early for no apparent reason!
The so-called ‘quick photographers’ that one sees in and around tourist places have always amused me. Maybe it was from them that I had a spark to start photography. But as a child, I had my own restrictions, especially in using a camera. The moment I got a point and shoot camera, I asked my uncle to teach me about it’s functions. He pointed at the camera manual and asked me to make use of it instead. I spent nearly 3 hours mugging up the handbook! To my surprise, I learned the basics promptly. 41
I was browsing through some images on the web on a rainy day. The interestingness in candid shots that I came across urged me to start clicking. I took the camera and walked to the terrace. I stood by the door to capture the rain and started clicking randomly. My first session of photography lasted till the last raindrop. I transferred the images to my PC and started editing roughly. I edited 5 photographs and uploaded them on the web. A few good comments boosted my confidence. Later on, I moved to Flickr and it helped me a lot in photographing better.
Boat House - A rainy afternoon in Muhamma village. 42
Kathakali The art of the non-worldly.
I consider life to be a perpetual dream about the future and it is this dream that inspires me. Flickr influences me to photograph every single thing that I see around. During the past one year, my photography project named â€˜Project52â€™ inspired me to click at least one photo every week.
Puli Kali 2009 at Thrissur district. A colorful recreational folk art from performed during Onam. 46
Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigersâ€˜. Performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting. 47
As a student, the very first thing that I’ve to focus on is to graduate. After that, I’d like to spend one year for photography. I’ve got some ideas in mind like: ‘Mumbai Nagariya’- in which I want to depict the rural and urban life of my favorite city, Mumbai. I am also thinking of another project in which I want be portray various traditions and art forms of Kerala. 48
I have never followed any rules for photography. I shoot things that interest me. I try to make the frame appealing & unique. At the end of the day, I want to satisfy myself. But sadly, that had never happened till date.
Saptarshi Das 28 year old Art Director from Kolkota, working in Bangalore.
shoes in different hues, shoes to beat the blues. shoes to let your attitude hang loose!
St. Funky Feet
How and when did â€˜Project Canverseâ€™ come into being? Though I would really like to say that it was a "Eureka!!" moment, but the fact is, it wasn't. ;) I never had any formal training in art. But every now and then, I kept dabbling with it in whichever form available. I follow and try to learn from whichever artist/style/form that grabs my attention. My learning is through my eyes. Project Canverse was probably a subconscious summation of all that I had absorbed. I actually wanted to gift my friend something personalized, so I made a pair. And it kinda turned out to be quite cool! So, quoting the cynical words of The Joker, "Never do anything that you're good at for free." :) So my brother, Supratim and I thought of turning this into a custom-wear service. And that, was the genesis of Project Canverse.
What inspires you? In general and to 'createâ€˜. I'm not gonna be modest here. It feels like God!! haha! How do you go about working on a particular idea/ design? Project Canverse is a custom-wear project. So all my designs till now have been fully customized as per the customer's taste. Whoever's interested in my design, is made to fill up a questionnaire. That helps me to get an overall idea of that person's likes and spites. I create a design from that image with my design inputs. I bounce off the design with him/her and if necessary, tweak it a bit. So its primarily developed through jamming sessions with the customer so that I can maintain their taste and style from design to delivery. But you'll soon be seeing some popular themes too popping up in Project Canverse, so that people can just order it right-away if they want!
St. Dummy Choo 54
What is the best design that you've created so far? I don't really compare my design, because if you see them, you'll know that each has its own style and message to convey. But if you're pointing a gun at me, then I would have to say, St Lucky and the St BeruBeru-s. St. Lucky was a project to portray something that was very close to my client, her beloved dog. Yet I had to maintain the taste she indulges in and keep it simple. So I did a black on white design, on a simple pair of shoes, that otherwise is tagged as a boring school-wear. I was surprised to see how the aesthetic value of the shoe changed after the design. And that's probably what I liked about it the most, that how a simple and detailed single-colour design can turn a seemingly unambitious footwear into its funky avatar! And the St BeruBeru are the shoes I did for children.
St. BeruBeru Are you involved in any other projects as well? One of the most important reason why I came back to B'lore was because I wanted to start off certain projects in the visual and utility arts arena. My idea is to merge the practical part of utility products and the aesthetic part of arts. And what comes out of that concoction is something we'll have to see! Its too early for me to talk about them in details now, but you'll get to hear/see/touch them very soon! All my activities gets updated in the 7Saints facebook page.
How important is art in your life? Art came to me like a rising tide. I didn't know whether to run away from it or embrace it. But it turned out to be important enough to leave my cushiony life of a well-paid IT professional. And then travel around India as a travel photographer, an industrial photographer, a printing-assistant, an assistant director and finally an advertising trainee with almost no pay. So it has singlehandedly thrown my life all around, and taught me everything that I never learnt in classrooms. It also has given me the most important realization of my life, to make my life worth living. To do what drives me the most, and be a part of my inspiration. To do what my heart lies in, where I feel the fire of childish passion, everyday.
Hang loose and stay hungry! And on a more preachy note, stay true to your passion. It'll take care of the rest. (Even of that shiny car you always wanted!)
Where can our readers order their customized Canverse?! They can visit the "7Saints" page on facebook and get in touch with me there for ordering. As I've explained earlier, the designing n development of the shoe happens through a series of jamming sessions with the customer. So you get exactly what you want, with a 7Saints twist! ( E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Project Canverse is a part of the 7Saints design-line.
Priya K 19 year old Literature student from Chennai. Author of The Prophecy Series.
Book Review and Interview by Vishesh Unni Fun, entertaining and cute! The Rise of the Sword begins with the protagonist Neha Sharma being enrolled into LA (Lunatic Anonymous) by her brother. After all, who will believe someone who claims that she is the chosen one (or Neâ€™ha) in an underwater place which no one knows exists? Neha recounts her adventure in Lemuria along with her boyfriend- professor Nick to a shrink. The sword in question is Ikatta- the sword of Thragone- the God of war. It looks to stir the most peaceful people on Earth to war. The hero, predictably, stops it. Also (predictably), there is a twist in the end.
THE RISE OF THE SWORD
I am not a huge fan of fantasy, but I found this book fun and entertaining. It wonâ€™t blow your mind away. You can quite clearly see that the book is written by a 19 year old. The way Neha takes to being the chosen one and her conversation with Xerxes and other Gods is really fun; she cannot believe it, but convinces herself that it must be true. The writing is simple and light. The book clearly is aimed at pre-teens, but others may enjoy it as well. The approach that Priya takes to deal with creating a whole new world is interesting. She keeps it simple and doesnâ€™t get into too many details (which I personally would have liked). Looking forward to the next book!
Congratulations Priya! Personally, I liked the book. How did â€˜The Prophecy Seriesâ€™ come into being? Thank you! :) I'd been hoping to one day earn my living by fiction, and I knew that the first step towards that was writing a book :P It involved choosing a theme and a story, making sure the plot fit, and then sticking with it until I had a book I could read. Lemuria, Atlantis- not something which we come across everyday. Where did you get the idea? I wanted something that was a blend between fantasy and reality. This worked. No one is certain whether Atlantis and Lemuria existed however, they could have been exactly the places, times and philosophies I've recorded. To my knowledge, there's nothing in any records to disprove my novel. Equally, the novel is supposed to be fiction. It works as fact, fiction and fantasy. I love that about Lemuria and Atlantis.
You are 19 and already an published author. How do people react to this? It varies quite widely, actually. There are some who are quite condescending, who treat me as a kid. Then there are others who treat it as something incredibly impressive. But the truth is, I'd rather not dwell on my age, either way. Pick up the book, read the blurb and glance at random chapters to judge the style, just like you would any other book. That's the dream! We travel to Delhi, Dwaraka, Goa, Singapore, etc in the book. Did you travel a lot? I do enjoy travel, and I've been all over the country and to a couple of cities abroad, including Singapore. We had an amazing holiday a few years ago, when inspiration for tRotS actually struck, where we drove from Chennai through central India to Manali, HP, and back down south via Udaipur, Goa and Bangalore, among others. But I didn't travel specifically for this book, no.
You were in the science stream in school. Was it hard to jump ship from science to literature? No, not really. I'd always preferred fiction, and I think it might have helped that there's a good portion of science fiction in this novel. When I was in school, too, I was mainly researching how to set up my underwater colony, trying to find actual practicable ideas that scientists could have perfected. That bit of transition helped. How much of Neha Sharma is you? Very little, really. The way she talks, sometimes - that over-fast patter, when she's excited - that, maybe. Other than that, no. Who are your favourite authors? Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, Ayn Rand.. What role did your family and friends play? Support! It's not like I broke down everyday and they had to
console me. But that my family let me do what I want is I think one of the more important reasons I actually have a book in print. My friends care. That's all I need from them. Apart from writing, you are also interested in theatre and poetry. Tell us more about it. Theatre is a big part of my life right now- actually, Stella Play '11 is eating heavily into my writing time. Not that I grudge it! I hope to see you and all your readers at A Veiled Affair, on the 4th, 5th and 6th of February, at Alliance Francaise of Madras. It's a self-written script, & I hope you'll enjoy it! As for poetry, that's never been my preferred technique. Still, I seem to be writing more poetry recently. Ten years down the line, where do you see yourself as a writer and otherwise? Hard to tell. Ten years is a long time. I hope to be successful, but how do you measure that?
INDIA ART SUMMIT 2011 The 3rd edition of the India Art SummitTM was held in Delhi from 20thto 23rd January. This Modern and Contemporary Art Fair presented 84 exhibiting galleries from ~ 20 countries. Nidhi Srivastava shares her experience...
“They are exhibiting Dali’s at the Art Summit. Let’s go,” I emailed my best friend. I knew she was a sucker for Dali, and yes, she took the bait. The India Art SummitTM 2011 was obviously an opportunity to not miss. So a sunny, Sunday afternoon found us at the ticket counter demanding a ‘student’ discount on the ridiculously high entry fee of Rs 200. “There’s no entry fee, ma’am, as today is the last day,” said person at the counter. We blinked a little and then spotted the serpentine queue waiting for security check. All of Delhi seemed to be there. Sources later confirmed that the likes of Sonia Gandhi, Geeta Chandran, etc, were present there that day. At the information desk, where we went looking for a map to the huge Pragati Maidan grounds, we were enthusiastically asked “Are you artists? Please drop a card!” My friend and I exchanged a look. “No, we’re just…uh…interested in art.” “But she’s a performing artiste,” I pointed at my friend, a Bharatnatyam dancer. Yet ’art enthusiasts’ probably described us best.
We roamed the aisles of Hall 18 for three hours, our senses inundated with the profusion of color & ingenuity. Our minds were stretched; our eyes were blinded and deceived. Our very perception of everyday objects was challenged. Is it a painting? Is it a room? Is it a painting of a room spread over a room? We stood in front of artworks and stared, squinted, moved to a different angle, and then considered it upside down, struggling to ‘understand’. Oh the joy of ‘figuring out’. This evocative piece called Mourning, done by Hossein Valamanesh caught our interest from afar due to the black material that looked vaguely like locks of hair. Nearer, it made no sense. It was attached to a simple piece of curved wood, suspended from the ceiling. We stared at the installation as it slowly turned circles…until it struck us, “It’s a woman bent over…mourning!” The simplicity blew us away. The woman drowned in her grief. We moved on.
Le Yunk et les Yank Salvador Dali
Pillola Francesco de Molfetta
Several Picasso’s, countless Indian artists and many foreign artists later, our search for Dali culminated in one single painting hanging behind the counter of Diegallery. Le Yunk et les Yank, a 1974 watercolor by Salvador Dali was quickly labeled pretty but…‘What is it?’ we asked each other. My friend, the Dali enthusiast, hadn’t heard of it. And I was berated for not being able to pronounce the name satisfactorily—“Dude, you know French”—I pointed out it wasn’t entirely French. There was some Chinese thrown in for effect. We stood before it reverently for a while, promising ourselves to go home and google (alas such few results!), and then moved on to more Picasso’s, the Indians and the others. The Summit lived up to its promise of the largest and most diverse showcase of modern and contemporary art in India. We had experienced diverse emotions as we traversed the hall. We were amazed, we stood agog, we ogled, we wondered, we pooh-poohed, we took photos, we felt inspired, we felt sad, we giggled, we wept…ok we didn’t weep but we did giggle a lot, we felt really hungry. Only too soon we were thanked politely for attending the 3rdedition of the Summit and asked to make our way out. Needless to say, we’re already looking forward to next year’s edition.
Cover image by Prateek Biswas