Nudes and the City

12/8/10


I have seen some of the photographs taken by Spencer Tunick, but I didn’t analyze or think of them much. They are simply a lot of naked people in different locations, particularly in cityscapes. Recently, I managed to go through his work very carefully with the inspiration came through a video watched about his work.


Spencer is not a nudist. His is a photographer! His work is simple and way he works too is very simple. His expressions are to blend locations with people.. people in the sense, people is a raw manner. Not decorated with clothes or anything, people as they are. It is a superb expressionism. I guess human body is one of the most powerful icons we used since visual art is born. His photos show the contrast in between human body and man-made structures of a city. In a way, it is a representation of nature and materialized and commoditized world.

Spencer started working in his art with very simple theories. What I like most was he didn’t use models or any selected beautiful men and women. He simply used volunteers who would like to take part in his art. He did his exercise in most of the big cities in the world and all the states of US. Number of people participate in the photo shoot is not predetermined; it is the number who accept his invitation. In a way, entire photo becomes a team work and work created according to the physical and social atmosphere. That creates amazing new dimension of getting photographs of human beings in modern civilization.

Before he became popular, Spencer does a self assignment to take that kind of photos in each state in US. What he simply did was, he got all the gear in to a van and traveled to different states with a couple of companions including his girlfriend. When he reaches a town, if he felt like taking a photograph, he simply walked through the roads and invited people he met to participate for his photo shoot. Of course, you can’t even think of such thing in Asia; it was not easy in USA either! He was virtually inviting everybody he meets; Young crowd, old people, pregnant women, fat people, slim people, black people, white people and everybody in this society. He simply doesn’t know how many people would like to participate anyway. Photo shoot is done with the available people. He doesn’t usually have any hard and fast rule to direct them. His simple guides along with background cityscapes make a wonderful photograph.



As I understand, Spencer is using the nudity for his work in very weightless manner. He is not talking or promoting nudism or any sexual agenda. He is an artist; strangely, see the beauty and way of expressing his ideas using naked human body. Not glamour or fashion in it. Just like Chandraguptha Thenuwara wanted to use Barrels (Barrelism) to express his arguments about military influenced society of Sri Lanka in the war time, Spencer’s trump used to express his idea is nudity along with cityscapes. He used more realistic raw materials than a fashion photographer who uses the body of trained beautiful men and women. While fashion photographer recreates the fantastic product together with fashion designer and model, Spencer “let it happen” in front of his camera lens. Theoretically, Product is influenced by the life experiences of men and women participate in it along with the view of the city. If there are a few people in the photo that means others have rejected to be in the photo, which also reveals something, since it is defined within the location. Nude body of an ordinary person who lives in the current society becomes the most powerful proof of that society than a model whose body is professionally maintained.

Don’t you think your body is the best living proof of your life… that carries all the good and bad times of your life? ...that reflects the tears and smiles of the story of your life? ..that archives everything happened since you were born? Spencer Tunick, as a photographer, carefully collects them into his photos.



Dark Romanticism

10/23/10

After the dark experiences of a ‘lost revolution’ in 89, Sri Lankan civil society was filled with uncertainty. That was the time I was learning the idea of utilization of art media to express complex thoughts. Each and every painting, poem or drama done by young artists had the significant marks of the Dark Age.

Mostly poem sections of the news papers were flooded with remembrances of tears, bloods and frustration. As an art enthusiast, I like those expressionisms. I enjoyed. I was realizing, even the love and romance took a different shape which maintained the touch of the reality. Poets were scared to be fooled by sky high dreams but the harsh reality that hammered the community in an unforgivable manner.

I always like romantic arts. I like the most of the poems written in that era. I particularly liked the romantic poems written under this context. They were very down to earth, realistic, sorrowful, yet fascinating and romantic. One could argue they were something else, but not me. Of course, they were far different from beautiful songs propagated in 60 and 70 decades.

I still remember most of the poems I kept on reading again and again. Poem section (i.e. Kuw-Muthu) of Divaina Paper, (which is decorated by the sketches of famous artist/cartoonist Vinee Hittigoda) was a very good arena for upcoming poets to express their thoughts. I was among the fans who always wanted to discuss and enjoy. I guess that’s the time I spent most of my time enjoying poems. Such a nice time!

I had to tell all these because I recently read some of my favorite poems of that age and managed to spend hours with those memories. Then I thought of sharing this because, there could be some other people who have the same memory. Below is one of the best romantic poems I enjoyed most. May be Dananjaya, Rasika, Sama, Daminda or Ajith could still remember the words and how crazy we were for post lost revolution poetry of 89’.

Dive in to Ship-X

9/5/10

In one of my past posts, I have mentioned my enthusiasm and interest on adventures of Mike and Cleark. They are closely related to Trincomalee where they found an ancient "Swayambhu Linga” with spiritual power and change the history. (i.e. Legend of Mike Wilson) I always wanted to dive in to the waters of Trincomalee that revealed a past history that had been hidden down the lockers of Davy Jone! When it came in real, it was like surfing through the past legend.

Recently, I had the great time diving in the coast of Trinco (Actually Nilaweli and Irrakkakandy). As usual Menaka was leading the diving team and our team was consisted of a Russian Underwater videographer/ Padi instructor from Moscow, a teenage girl from Switzerland, Devana and me. Menaka is the most capable dive master I have ever dived with.



Our diving plan was to dive the Pigeons Rock first and then to the Irrakkakandy ship wreck. When we dive in Pigeons Rock it had perfect conditions that gave us the best opportunity of feeling the fantastic beauty. Corals were so live and perfectly coloured. Marine creatures were all over. We managed to observe number of new fish species that we have never spotted in Hikkaduwa. Perfect conditions gave our videographer to capture the beauty without any obstacles. It was not that deep, so we managed to spend 78 minutes under water!



                                                                                       (These Photos are from the web)
The Ship-X

After having some rest in the Pigeons Island we sailed to our next destination; the Irrakkakandy ship wreck. Ship wrecks: always mysterious, historical and my favourite.

Even though, visibility had vanished while we were descending, sunlight became brighter in the next moment. Wreck was lying beneath the shallow sea about 12m down.

It was a massive ship with no records at all! Indeed it is a mystery. No one has ever discovered the identity of this ship and whereabouts. While I was diving, I was imagining, what can be the tragic story of this ship and its sailors. What made this sinful mistake?

This ship should be fairly old but one can identify the remaining as parts of engine room and so on. Live corals had changed the shapes of most of the artefacts scattered on the sea bed.

One experienced diver has written about this ship in the dive Sri Lanka website and he suspects this as a ship with a British origin. I am now waiting till I meet our friend, marine archaeologist, Rasika Muthukumarana to see whether he can give us some hints on this mysterious ship. According to the local fishermen, wreck is still being watched by its captain’s soul.

While I write this report today, I am in my office, looking at the mighty Indian Ocean through my window and the ships that emerge from the horizon and sail towards Colombo port. Still my mind is full of unanswered questions about the Irrakkakandy ship and its tragedy. Can remaining of the ship help a historian to solve the hidden story? I don’t know! What I know is I really need to dive in to this mystery again.

Below photos were taken during our expedition;

Getting ready with the gear..


New Irrakkakandy bridge








Pigeons Island
Resting at Pigeons Island before the second dive..


Golden Rose

8/6/10

I am very much influenced by the books I read since my small age. Apart from my education, books play a big role in building my life. In fact, writers are my heroes!

Russian writer Konstantin Paustovsky has written, probably the best, book on the role of a writer; their responsibilities and commitments. Book is called Golden Rose. This book has been translated to Sinhala by Ariyawansha Ranaweera. It is a great book. This book is focused on preparation of a person who plans to become a writer; required generous commitment, patience and other characteristics.




Paustovsky tells a nice story to explain the commitment one should have in order to become successful in literature. A Trash collector spends two years gathering the grains of gold dust from the trash bins of a jewelry shop. When he has enough gold, he smelts it into a beautiful golden rose as a gift for the woman he loves. Writer should have such a commitment to grab the right raw materials to write a book.

Anyway, recently I started to find the faces of some of the writers I like most and created below facebook! Most of them are died by now, but they all have a very special noble place in my heart.




I guess some of them have a special place in your heart too. Can you identify them?

Corporate Monarchy

7/20/10





As US is the most powerful country, British Petroleum is the fourth biggest corporation on earth. Now both are two different faces of same entity. This Video reveals about special kind of armed people who never say to whom they report. This is not a movie!

Can we even think of democracy, if the fate of most powerful country is this pathetic!

I am so keen to see what the Sri lankan champions of human rights has to comment on this. I personally didn’t see any such comment! If a porn movie is banned in Sri Lanka I can gather 1000 human right activists to Lipton circle in no time!

Rhythmic Tree

6/2/10


 

While I was in Akka’s place I noticed that the wall colors are artistic in the guest room I am provided. Also I saw some rhythm in the tree like figure used to decorate the cover of the pillow. So I took a photo of it with background of the wall and it became so beautiful and artistic. That’s how my photo Rhythmic Tree was born. Today it became the Staff Choice of usefilm web site. It’s a gorgeous achievement for an amateur photographer like me…. Today is my day..!

Photo can be seen here.. http://www.usefilm.com/image/1584981.html

Save migratory birds in crisis – every species counts!

5/9/10




I have been writing about bird migration and related experiences bit often. Even the last post was about another birding experience. Anyway, I feel I didn’t urge that much about the conservation of these birds and what threats they face. In the worldwide context, biologists and ornithologists are talking more and more about the conservation of the migrating birds. I also feel that the parameters affect the survival of migrating birds could be bit different and hard to estimate.

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. This day comes in every year on the second weekend May. Each WMBD focuses on a different topic and this year’s theme is “Save migratory birds in crisis – every species counts!”

Protecting the habitats will be the core of conservation, but a lot more steps are to be taken. Will start from our gardens.. will keep some space for the birds..this won’t cost much..

Till next migration season comes..

5/6/10



When I heard that the winter is so critical this year, I simply understood that we are getting a better chance of observing migrant birds in Sri Lanka. As I assumed, we could see a lot of migrants this season.

We suddenly decided to do some birding in Annaiwiludawa, not only to observe migrant birds, but mainly our friend Ulinda badly needed to capture some good bird photos during his stay in the country. (Most of the photos displayed in this post have been captured by him) His incomparable photographic gear was supportive of his enthusiasm.

Anyway, we spent a nice birding time at Annaiwiludawa this season. Annaiwiludawa Tank Sanctuary has been appointed as one of the Ramsar site due to its importance. Protected land area consists of 1397 hectares.

Now time has come to say Bye to this un-invited winter visitors! Till next winter..
Below photos are to keep our memories live till then.































Today is earth day!

4/21/10

We have number of “days” for different reasons. People criticize this because, we allocate days for objectives where we really don’t work for it. There is a women’s day for men who never treat women with the right respect. Peace day is important for people who put the seeds of war.

It is high time we need to think about our earth.. one day is not enough.. survival of life on the earth depends on this.. so we don’t have an alternative!

Please watch the video from greenpeace;



Ban Ki Moon, the defense secretary of USA !

4/6/10

Many people has slammed the US saying it has blood on its hands after a shocking video showed a US aircraft firing indiscriminately towards civilians in Iraq killing atleast 25 of them including two journalists.

Please watch this video.



Now western media together with other intellectuals has started to discuss the impact of existence of the media like Wikileaks in terms of the threat to the national security of powerful governments. Authenticity/ truth of the video is not seems to be taking in to consideration by any of the entities including UN, who is having the responsibility.


Being the first nation in the world who truly irradicated terrorism, Sri Lanka is still suffering from various allegations bombarded from westerners. We need to ask Mr.Moon who is so enthusiastic in that practice, what he is going to do for this even after murderer was caught with bloody hands.

Free media and human rights are two main themes used by powerful governments initiated by US intelligence to interfere in third world countries in order to break their economies. Now it is our time to see how Mr. Obama and Mr. Ban Ki Moon would sit together and sort this out.. Whatever the stories created by them will be spread by western media like nothing.

I personally think, UN hasn’t been this fail in credibility of their work in the past.

This is truly pathetic and dangerous.

Loss of a true environmentalist !

3/17/10


I was so shocked to hear the demise of Piyal Aiya. Mr. Piyala Parakrama had finished his crucial role in Sri Lankan environmental conservation arena, on early this month. It is always sad to hear deaths of good people in times they are needed most..

I first met him when I was a school boy while organizing an activity for world environment day. I think that’s soon after he returned to country completing his studies at Lumbumba Friendship University. Piyal Aiya soon became a very helpful resource to our school environment society.

Afterwards, I identified him as a person with a genuine need to fight back against the ongoing environmental issues. He held a number of positions in various organizations, but as a person he was not bound with any organizational framework. He believed something and he bravely worked to achieve it. That’s his passion.. he worked with government to achieve something, but next day he could be seen in a rally against the government to show his disagreement towards something..

Last time I met him at Jayawardenapura Hospital when I was rushing to see my father who was in critical condition. Piyal Aiya had come to some other matter, but he joined me to visit my father. He wished my father a fast recovery and treated him with his unique pleasant smile...!

I think, Piyal Aiya’s loss is for the country.. Nature and Humanity..

Very sadly, we have to say Bye to this noble person, untimely!

Fed up with monetary system?

3/11/10


Dive Log - Upath Diyamba Gala

Upath Diyamba Gala is a new diving site in Hikkaduwa and we started this seasons with diving in to it. Site was average by every means. Even though visibility was not that favorable we managed to notice some fishes.

Malfunctioning diving gear!

Anyway, I was not happy with the dive at all because I had to start the dive with some difficulty. When I start descend, I found water coming in to my mouth through the mouthpiece. So I came up again and position the mouthpiece (of second stage) correctly again in my mouth and started to descend, but nothing changed. Then I did one of the biggest mistakes I have ever done in water.. start breath fast with small volumes of air in an increasing momentum which lead me to "lack of oxygen" in body. Actually this is medically an "asphyxiation". I came up again and informed this to the captain of the boat but his advice was what I tried a couple of times already. Anyway, then I switched to alternative air source and get problem solved. While I was doing all the struggle, other buddies were waiting down the anchor line wondering what has happened to me.. That’s the poor start. Anyway, dive was quite good at the end. Anyway, you should never dive if you are not sure about equipment.

I managed to do some swimming though the reef with a snorkel and found a lot of fishes near the coast and that was a good sign.

Diving in Colombo

I guess divers are amazed to hear that a lot of new diving sites have been identified just near Colombo. This is wonderful news and all the credit should go to divers who worked hard to identify those. One stop online diving guide has exposed them here.

Hope of the east

Since, east is now attracting lots of travelers; new diving stations are to be located in east side also. This is a good new too. This makes us dive throughout the year.

Exploring Nuwara Gala – the second leg

2/24/10


We all were quite amazed to explore Nuwara-Gala when we saw it for the first time. I revealed about it in one of my past posts. We decided to have an excursion again in November 2009, after the terrorism problem is over in the area.

As usual we left Colombo very early in the morning and head to Pollebedda via Maha Oya. We were aware about the severe drought in the area and got prepared with necessary drinking water with us.

Once we stepped in to the village we saw a lot of changes. We spent our first night in the school (Pollebedda Maha Vidyalay) and it had been developed so much. Last time we saw only a couple of poor buildings, but it had been converted to a big school with an increased number of students. Even the village economy seemed to have gained some growth may be with the Rambakan Oya irrigation project. Such development projects occur with the villages could even make devastating changes to day to day lives of the people and their society.

We couldn’t meet the old Wedda chief Gomba this time, but we heard that he was so old and spending most of the time on a wheel chair.

Wijaya who guided us to the Nuwara-Gala last time, also joined us with two other experienced trackers, (Gunabanda & Dharmadasa) who are very friendly and experts in the subject as same as Wijaya. We started our hike following early morning and it was so hot and weather was as dry as could be. Forest hadn’t experienced rain for last 6 months and strong wind was quite unbearable when we go up the top of the rock. Spending the night in the cave where we used last time, seemed quite impossible with the increasing winds in the late hours. So we spent (mostly sleepless!) our second night on the rock surface. We time to time changed the locations to find safe places from the wind, but it wasn’t possible at all.

Forest was not with much difference, but as we explained in the previous post this forest is very much exposed to illegal timber traders and poaching. Positive change was, water in the pond on the top of the rock was bit more cleanly and we used them for washing.

Anyway, I guess, it is high time to take steps to conserve this historically valuable place for future generations. Under current condition, anyone can destroy the ruins and historically valuable entities.

It was as tough as last time but we managed to get the real fruit of the dry zone hike. Mostly we were better equipped with knowledge about the area and relevant surrounding through Dr.Spittle’s and Mr.Douglas B.Ranasinghe’s books.

Below are only few of the photographs taken by Uresh and Roshan.








It’s a good walk through the dry grassy lands


Only fresh water spring lie in this thicket








A lot of room for photography!


Man made pond on the rock surface on the top













Cave which we used to spend night last time.

 
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