Monday, February 5, 2018

Images and Stories

Earlier I would classify Singdha as one of those friends who calls me only when she is confused. I am against classification but I secretly do it. Well mostly. When she called me up in January to ask if I can take a photography workshop I felt confused. I had already committed to a class in Sacred Hearts college (School of Communication) to take a class on human centric graphic design I  called up my friend Kiran Sasi and changed the date.

Snigdha Banergee as far as I can remember is a painter, one of the most powerful artist I have met.  She is an animation filmmaker and she is now leading the department of Animation at UID. She advised UID to book air tickets for me.

U (say yooooooooou) 😮😮😮😮😮
I (say aaaaiiiiiiii )😛😛😛😛😛
D (say deeeee)   😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

UID is situated on the new highway near Uvarasad GandhiNagar. A place where 3g internet is a myth. Where the heat is so much that chapatti's cook themselves and at night the temperature dip so much that the mist fills up the whole barren land.
Uvarasad sunrise (no color)

morning masala chai at chotus dhabha
I am sceptical about taking workshops. Mostly because I have to deal with students who are not ready for my workshops and faculty who are not ready to accept human centric liberal design outlooks.  Somehow UID had none (let me be diplomatic and not mention the assholes for once). In fact UID animation had the opposite lot. Very intelligent students and equally open facilitators. I could also figure out that the other departments didn't have such a collective of facilitators (lectures-professors) who were actually striving beyond their limits to get students to understand design.

I land at Snigdhas house. Behind NID. Greeted by the Kite festival. She lives on the fourth floor without a lift. I may have burned a few calories. Snigdha was welcoming and she had a friend. I can't remember her name. A  young lady COLD as a chilled beer in greenland kept in refrigerator. "I dont want to tell you who I am. I don't trust strangers that easily" she said. This was a happy moment. I had devised my mechanism of small talks to survive strangers. Suddenly I am relieved. There is this emotional afterglow of a silent fart. Snigdha got me an auto to go Gandhinagar UID guest house.

I ate 5 chapathis. some dal, a sniff of rice and some curry.

The first thing i did when I got up early in the morning was to walk around the guest house. It was cold and I walked around the village. This place is blessed with fresh water. I could see the Gujarat model that our prime minister throw at random ralleys. Still there are no toilets. The 'flex' used by the government to sponsor their cleanliness campaign isused by people as temporary toilets.

I reach early. Snigdha is dressed up. I wonder if I am underdressed.

my scheduled for 10 days

When I was in IDC ,IIT bombay the photography classes were taken by my professor Sudesh Balan. He is still a great inspiration and a person that I look upto. But nevertheless I should say the photography classes that he took didn't make me well versed with the art of photography. I understood his concept six months later when I took a department camera and went around doing everything myself. The classes were more technical centric and calculative than being aesthetic and political. I didn't want this. I understand that the technical aspect is supreme but it is a skill and one can train himself. The muscle memory will step in if a person practice with the equipment but the thought, intend and emotion has its own value. Sometimes a small camera can take a powerful picture which a Hasselblad and million dollars can't.

UID has a brilliant batch of students. Most of them inclined towards design and learning. This was different. I had spent a week preparing for this lecture which I do once every six months to update myself. I am glad i did this. The kids are savvy. They can't be conned. They need the best. How can I extrapolate their imagination. Do I need to extrapolate ? For the money UID is paying I can take a textbook lecture and get away. The dilemma is gone as soon as i speak to students. They deserve the best.

A class of more than 25 students will always have 4 really brilliant students and the rest not so brilliant students. The brilliance is just based on curriculum studies. Some of them maybe brilliant in something else. However UID had a few more really bright students. The rest of them were just plain LAZY.

We started off in a great manner and I could inspire a few people to step out of their immediate surroundings to take pictures.

My normal day would start with me waking up at 6.00 am. I would go for a morning walk with my camera. There were days when I have walked more than 8 km. I am not into fitness. I love cold mornings and I am searching for images to get myself into the groove of my photographer days.

In college I feel a little claustrophobic as soon as I reach. Too organised. I have to do a finger swipe and then sign a document.

Snigdha will be busy with her work mostly. I am impressed with Ravi Sachula a professor in the department and his work. He makes paintings with an inherent cynicism and satirical outlook. The man himself is a free soul. Akrithi is a blessing in disguise. A cinematographer at heart we could speak for hours just about light and composition. Its fun the way her face gets lit up when she speaks about her course in cinematography at Sanfransisco. She has been through the hardships of a cinematographer. She understands. Snigdha is still sorting out office logistics. When will she make her new film ? Puniya smiles. He doesn't speak much. He chooses his words carefully. Herock is of great help. He is sweet. He introduces me to Bengali Dhabha outside the college. He is a life saver.
At the Dhabha I meet "Danish". "Danish" is in his zone. I am blessed to have a man his zone for lunch. Snigdha might still be finishing an office task. 

Late in the evenings Mazhar comes to meet me. Mazhar is a student who is actually quite good with photography.He has the attitude of a ATM uncle. It seems like he doesnt give a flying fuck. Secretly he gives too many fucks. At least a few. Toash is silent but quite open with his approach to deisgn, he wakes up early and practice photography. Ms Menon is a poet. She is a person lost in a limbo. She floats to class and go back. Toash seems to be her reality check. Rishik is hyperactive. A brillaint storyteller. The man at the chai shop is friendly he gives me free chai. Twinkle is more mature than her age. I see a lot of possibilities. I missed one of her prints. This actually made me sad. She understood NOIr more than anyone and i misplaced her print. What is stopping her. I have already started forgetting the interactions i had with many of them. I am forgetting names. Avanji seems to be a brilliant artist. She thinks visually. When i walk to my apartment in the evening I see Shruthi at the cricket field trying to capture the decisive moment. I see her everyday. This is how I was in college. I decide not to go and tell her, not to help her or solve her photography issues. Let her be. Harsh sleeps in class. He is a quite a nice photographer. Some of the videos are boring. People will sleep in classes. That is what classes are for. Its the lecturer jobs to get their attention. Vansh leaves early. June reminds me of a rehab person I met in Mumbai. Half in love with graceful peaceful tranquil limbo. Priyanka is a model and she is missing in class. Sharon has her doubts. I don't clear them. She will eventually clear them. She should. Aanya is from the instagram generation with an attention span of a housefly of cocaine. She gets bored too easily. She suprised me with her final set of pictures. Padman experiments with his camera a lot like Harsh. Padman seems to have a good eye for visuals. He thinks too much. Unlike Swapnil who doesn't think that much and jump into an assignment. Its students like Swapnil that an ideal design school needs. But do we need people who only does their assignments. What about adding life to the assignment and pushing the limits. Here Suvarna steps in as a storyteller. I figure out she is lazy. She is lazier than me.  I see Aman Gupta taking pictures of a crane in one of the destroyed water bodies around Uvarasad. He is always smiling. He is discovering the joy of photography. Aman patel didn't interact that much. Even Shreya and Shireen interacted less. I am impressed with one of Shreyas picture. Shirin is already a photographer. I saw the images she has taken before the workshop. The same case go with Priyal , Mazhar and Padman. Priyal has an eye for details. She is full of questions. 

Jwalin is a very silent person in class but when it comes to his work he is hyper active. Along with Suvarna and Twinkle he is one of those kids who experimented a lot. Bhushan also did an impossible task with the shutter speed assignments. Bhushan is chilled. Shefali submits her assignments on time. She has that edge to experiment. Who am i to judge these people. I am lazy and stubborn and stuck in a mid 80's rock anthems riff. I teach a little bit of Photoshop to Mazhar. 

Swapnil giving the handsome look 


Shruthi and her corner

Aman and Priyal

Students setting up the exhibition


Students finding order

Photographs are memory markers

Order and disorder

two cinematographers not doing what they are supposed to



Students shouldnt be trapped in a cycle of aperture shutterspeed and ISO and should learn to think like creators.

Student should strive to push their creativity and camera should not limit thier creativity

Students should start seeing hidden patterns, hidden order, storytelling elements which will help them communicate more vividly

Student should find their own pattern for exhibition design and arrangement so that they know how to use space to interact with images.

Students need to feel like respectful grown up individuals who should take responsibility in their content

Students should have a kickass time

Snigdha took me to Adlej well and To a lot of other places in Ahmedabad. We had a blast of a time together. 
Overall UID was kind of a good experience.

Looking forward to other workshops around India. meet more interesting people. I was also asked to given a speech on my journey so far to inspire students in the "Alaap talk sessions". I am an introvert trying to put the face of a social animal. This was horrifying and somehow I pulled it off. people from Senior batches came and met. Glad I could inspire. People more skilled than me (i should admit). Let everyone have a great soar in life.

Going straight to narmada shoot from Bengaluru soon after this. 

More pictures from students

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