POLAROID CAMERA DRAWING - CAMERA DRAWING
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Polaroid Camera Drawing
The Bengaluru Pages, "Candid Camera"
THE POLAROID is an instant camera with a self-developing film. A picture taken from this camera is also prone to fading out, over the course of time. In a sense, The Polaroid image is much like a living object, with a birth-death cycle. It is this ephemeral quality of Polaroids that drew artist Mithun Jayaram to the medium. A recently concluded exhibition at the Alliance Francaise Bangalore featured 60 Polaroid images shot by Jayaram over the course of 3 years. The seeming disparate images have one focus - capturing images of fleeting, everyday moments. What was unique to this exhibit (Collecting Fragments) was the spontaneous quality of the images - photographed without any form of digital or contextual manipulation. Rajita Gadagkar caught up with the artist, currently residing in the city, to discuss photography and matters of art.
--What is the idea behind the body of your pictures?
It is a sharing of moments. And a focus on overlooked moments. The pictures were not staged prior to taking their photos, lights were not added nor removed and the pictures were not altered to give an effect. These pictures were taken at the moment I discovered them.
I wanted to share pictures with which I could relate a sense or transience, an idea of mortality that we are surrounded by in our everyday. I also wanted to know my reaction to displaying pictures that I never initally intended for public consumption. To experience the private and the public all at once in the form of an exhibition of photos.
--All the images were shot using a Polaroid camera. Why Polaroids?
A fantastic medium! It condenses the classical method of taking pictures, developing and printing into this glossy plastic card.
It amazes me because it has its own life after having birthed from the womb of its camera. Unlike any camera that I've come across, its picture grows before your eyes.. and in time, it will fade away.. quite like most living beings. I have seen Polaroid shots of my cousins taken sometime during the 70s and have noticed how the colours will inevitably dull.
It is, to me, the perfect medium to talk about ideas of transience. Especially now with the news that this particular series of Polaroid film (the 600 film) is to run out of supply sometime 2009. It adds a layer to that idea of transience.
--What is the process of working with a polaroid like vis-a-vis the more controlled process of shooting with an SLR?
It much simpler with a Polaroid! With SLRs you need to consider many more elements with regards to the technicalities of taking a picture. Shutter speed, aperture, light meters, a certain aperture for certain light and/or depth, etc.
I love my SLR, but there are qualities of colour, clarity and size that I adore with my Polaroid which is not so fluent with the 35mm film.
--What are some of the other visual art forms you work with?
I dabble with video, paints, sculptural forms, installations and more particularily with medium that has an inherent ephemeral quality within its self eg. tissue paper, toothpicks, cotton, pencil shavings, etc
One installation I was particularily happy with was, 'A Roomful of Old Ladies Clattering their Fingernails'. A window display area situated in an underground shopping mall in Singapore was the space used for this work.
Over two thousand pencils fell under the blades of sharpeners and an entire space was made... one area with a pencil lead chandalier, another area with hanged shavings whose shadows resembled thousands of butterflies in suspended animation, while the floor had mounds of a different texture of shavings to have a semblance of anthills...
What really interested me about this project was that I was in that space for 3 months, revealing the process of its growth and sharing it with people. I felt it meant more than just putting a painting up on a wall for viewing... There was the choice given to the audience to interact and participate with the art and artist. It provided more dimensions to looking and interacting with art.
--How did you discover photography?
It was only after having been exposed through certain teachers at LASALLE College of the Arts, did a curiousity surface about using it as a medium... There were photographers like Sally Mann and Cindy Sherman whose works i really enjoyed.
I later found out my dad had an old camera and it was in good condition. A Pentax ME. That was where my experimenting with the cameras eye began. Soon after, I chose an elective on darkroom photography, where we get to process our own black and white film and print our own images. Thats where I understood photography better as truly 'drawing with light'
--Do you think a city Bangalore is open to contemporary art, for instance, installations, in public spaces etc?
Every place is open to growth and theres no better way to find out than experimenting and sharing something you feel strongly about.
Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera
The original, and my first film camera. Without fail, opening this in public draws people in — it's still the only camera I can easily use to shoot portraits; people *want* you to take their picture with it.
The folding design (especially as an SLR) is one of the most innovative product designs in history, and it's a shame Polaroid moved away from this elegant and unique style of camera, a move I believe had much to do with their eventual demise.
I shoot Type 600 film (typically sold as 600 and 779 before it was discontinued) using a neutral density filter taped to each film pack, to bring the exposure closer to the original Time Zero film (long discontinued, and no longer available).
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