Category Archives: Culture

Painting (and fooling around) with light.

It’s amazing what an eye for detail, lots of patience and a really slow shutter speed can achieve. Light painting (or light graffiti as it’s also known) is a relatively new artform that uses the movement of light to create unbelievable images. In real time. That’s right, the photographs created by the artists below have all been shot in the streets and in studios in a single take – without any digital manipulation whatsoever. Over to these awesome freestylers.

Michael Bosanko
Welsh artist Michael Bosanko uses an array of LEDs and flashlights – not always in the dark – and captures anything from giant spider-like creatures to organic forms, to even whimsical alien people. Michael says he got inspired to venture into light graffiti 5 years ago, while holidaying in Greece. Hey, thank goodness he took that vacation!

Bosanko 01

Bosanko 02

Bosanko 03

Alan Jaras
An industrial research scientist and microscopist who has, since retirement, turned his considerable expertise towards capturing images of intricate beauty. Alan shoots a targeted light source through a piece of textured glass or plastic formation, to capture the refraction patterns directly on to 35mm film – using no lens in the process.

Jaras 01

Jaras 02

Jaras 03

Patrick Rochon
This globe-trotting artist spends his time between his native Montreal, New York and Tokyo and creates surreal, and definitely eerie, works of light art. His portraits reflect Asian and other influences, with a stunning mix of colours and lasers. Patrick says that his compositions are visualised during the hours he spends meditating. Hmm.

Rochon 01

Rochon 02

Rochon 03

Dean Chamberlain
Dean discovered a passion for light painting while pursuing a degree in Fine Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Using flashlights and coloured gels, he meticulously details out his live, psychedelic canvases, inch by inch. Oh, and the exposures for these sessions can last up to 5 hours!

Chamberlain 01

Chamberlain 02

Chamberlain 03

MRI
From gorgeous to downright goofy. New York-based light painters Ryan Warnberg and Michelle McSwain (MRI stands for Michelle and Ryan Illumination) bring their trademark brand of playfulness and fun to the artform. They believe that light graffiti is for everyone and anyone can participate. So apart from art projects and commercial work, they undertake birthday bashes and Halloween parties. Even Bar Mitzwahs.

MRI 01

MRI 02

MRI 03

LAPP-Pro
The breathtaking, hyper-kinetic work of German duo Jan Wöllert and Joerg Miedza may never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for an accident (or two). Apparently, back in 2007, Jan found himself locked in at an old industrial complex where he was shooting. To kill time, he dabbled in some night photography. And accidentally moved a light source across the frame during a long exposure shot. Looking at the unusual results in the morning, the duo had a pretty good idea where they were headed!

LAPP 01

LAPP 02

LAPP 03

That’s just a preview of the incredible talent out there and I’m running out of space :-). If you have the time, do check out some of the others like Lichtfaktor, Sola, Lightmark and Toby Keller of Burn Blue Photography.

And remember what I said earlier about light painting being a new artform? Not entirely true. It’s been around, but has become popular with artists only in the last 5 years or so. On that note, let me leave you with these early photographs of Pablo Picasso – yes, Pablo Picasso – giving it a go.

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Mind your language. Seriously.

The Rosetta Project

Forget beaming proof of our existence to little green men. With the advent and rise of globalisation (which was a supremely fucked-up idea to begin with!) it looks like we have to undertake a similar task – for ourselves.

Scientists at the rather profoundly-named Long Now Foundation believe that the world’s languages (7,000 at last count) are not just connected to individual cultures but are, in fact, repositories of cultural diversity and human history. Now here’s the scary/true part. These scientists foresee that we may lose as much as 90% of the world’s linguistic diversity within the next century i.e. globalisation is killing languages.

But the white coats have given it a thought. And their long shot – oh, it’s a good one – owes as much to technology as it does to the stone ages.
The Rosetta Project is a monumental global undertaking to develop a contemporary version of the original Rosetta Stone. In other words, to survey, document and create a near-permanent archive of the planet’s languages. To be digitally archived and made available to the public – progressively – via DVDs. But primarily to be transferred and physically inscribed, for posterity, on to nickel disks.

Nickel disks are micro-etched (the project is underway) with each language’s meta information, phonology, grammar, numbers, dictionaries and various related texts. Over 13,000 pages on to a single side, with contents viewable under magnification. Why nickel? Because the metal, although reactive by nature, is slow to react in air under normal conditions of temperature and pressure – due to the formation of a protective oxide surface (it’s used for alloys because of this). Apart from being corrosion-resistant, nickel also exhibits endurance under magnetic fields.

The Rosetta Project scientists argue that such a disk could withstand a variety of extreme environmental conditions and become part of a definitive, analogue representation of each of the planet’s languages. I’ve been following this project for some time now. And if you’re interested, head over to those websites to see how far they’ve taken this awesome task.

P.S. While you’re at it, maybe you should reconsider the LOLs, BRBs and the Hinglish/Benglish/Tanglish or whichever customised language you’ve been using lately. Personally speaking, no complaints. Just a thought :-).

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Getting in shape for the Prince.

UK-based Maverick Media were commissioned to promote Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. Maverick created 3 videos, each of which were posted online, all ending with the message ‘’Get Training’’. The videos directed viewers to the now-defunct URL 2december.co.uk – referring to the game’s original 2005 release date. Here are all of them together. More after the jump.

Now how did you like that? Things that go viral on the Internet usually depict extremes i.e. the humour is gross, the violence is too much, the sex is gratuitous. Why? Because the same rules that apply to television and radio programming do not apply to content online. There’s no watchdog (not worldwide at least), and Dad and Mom don’t monitor the PC like they do the TV. More importantly, people don’t necessarily do what’s standard and safe.

Okay, imagine this. You’ve got the video of a triple-hanky, parent-daughter relationship spot for some bank. You’ve also a video of how to get laid on prom night. Which one would you pass on to friends? Let me put it like this: Any guesses, which one is more likely to become popular/viral?

Brands are still trying to get a grip on this whole what-makes-a-viral concept. And it’s generally been a hit and miss. Look at the Prince of Persia videos. They show 2 ordinary guys trying to master the game controls (in this case, a PlayStation) as depicted in the handbook. The twist is that their practice takes place in the real world. There’s enough relatable jargon for gamers. There’s also lots of silly, fake blood and laughs to be had, if you like it that way. But what makes this a truly viral campaign? Because, in the end, the videos feel like online content – and not some plugged-in product promotion.

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Saving your souls, one TV commercial at a time.

Lonely TV Set

Now that you’ve watched those accursed Vodafone ZooZoo commercials for the zillionth time and unwittingly participated in the most turgid viral sensation in recent years 😉 let’s move on. I’ve been collecting some cool (in my opinion) TV spots over the years – on to my CDs, DVDs and hard disks. Not the grainy, pixelated junk that ends up on YouTube. I’m talking hi-quality videos.

Starting today, I’ll be posting some here every week – sharing the goodness with the world, so to speak. Not all of them have won awards (although some of them are way up there). Not all of them are well-known (some were created for specific markets). But each and every one of them is imaginative, engaging and intelligent. So sit back. Relax. And enjoy the show.

P.S. Oh and folks? Do feel free to comment.

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Hey, how you doin’?

OK, I confess. After the first 2 posts I sort of disappeared from the scene. Poof! Vanished. Hell no, it wasn’t a bad case of Writer’s Block (that maybe later!). I’ve been doing some behind-the-scenes work actually. Sprucing up the blog. Fine-tuning the layout. Looking for bugs. Adding video functionality, testing the player…you know, geeky stuff. Something tells me most of you will dig the next post 🙂

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Bollywood is back (for now).

3 Idiots Poster

The new movie 3 Idiots (2009), directed by Rajkumar Hirani, produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and based on an extremely lame-ass novel by wannabe wordsmith Chetan Bhagat, is a monster hit. Yours truly watched the flick on the second first day of release, popcorn in hand.

Now if you knew me, that’s crazy as hell. Because I haven’t watched a Bollywood film in a theatre for, like, fucking ages. More on that later.

As expected, the movie has all of the director’s now-trademark flourishes i.e. sharp characterisations, snappy dialogue, zero profanity, less screen time for female leads, lots of male bonding, pan-India pathos (which in this case is quite a feat considering the movie predominantly takes place within an elite city college in Delhi) and, sure enough, a central catch phrase (remember ‘Jadoo Ki Jhappi’ and ‘Gandhigiri’ from his earlier efforts?) which now takes the rather distinctly un-Hindi form of ‘All Is Well’.

Of course, all this may sound like I don’t like the film. But you know what? It fucking works. And it works really well.

The last few years have seen some of the worst-ever products churned out by the Bollywood film factory. Blame Karan Johar, Yash Chopra and son, Akshay Kumar’s merry band of directors (too many to name) and the once-promising/now-embarrassing Ram Gopal Varma. But with movies like Munnabhai MBBS (2003) and its sequel Lage Raho Munnabhai  (2006), Rajkumar Hirani and his producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra have taken the very same spare parts and re-reassembled the Bollywood dream machine. They make unapologetically mass-market Bollywood movies that are fun, frothy – and surprisingly smart.

If you prefer meaningful cinema, stick with the Europeans, Chinese and (more recently) the Koreans. But if Bollywood is what rocks your world, keep your eyes on Hirani – the man sure knows his masala.

P.S. Watch out (or better, don’t) for remakes of ‘3 Idiots’ in almost all regional languages.

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Early morning, somewhere in the blogosphere:

Morning Hangover

Something odd happened today.

Instead of regaining consciousness on the wrong side of the bed (or floor), trying to negotiate my way through yet another fucked-up party-induced hangover, I woke up stone sober. And did something totally unexpected – I started writing this blog.

It’s perfectly bad timing. The folks who’ll be interested in reading what I have to say are probably still swimming in their alcoholic oceans of choice. And they’ll only browse through my golden internet-compatible prose by tonight or tomorrow. So I did think about delaying this long-delayed project – until my inner voice butted in with a harsh “What the fuck dude, you’ve got to start sometime!’’

I planned a nasty response to THE VOICE. But the image of me sticking my middle finger at myself didn’t seem too pretty 🙂

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