March 14, 2014

Photography Experiments: When Objects Meet Paper

Many years ago, when reading an interview with an Indian woman artist, I recall her saying that she was a magazine junkie and that the reason why she especially loved magazines was because of all that visual stimulation they provided - and which specifically nourished her visual soul. Upon reading her words, I realised that what she had articulated was exactly how I would have done so in regard to myself, explaining as to why I so particularly gravitated towards magazines and also helping me figure out that well, I was just a visual person;) Unlike the surfeit of visual options at our disposal these days in form of the internet and a smorgasbord-like array of online and print magazines, growing up in Oman, I could only access and rely on a limited selection of magazines for visual cues in cookery, fashion, interiors, and make-up, for example. I would spend hours at the magazine section in bookstores or stalls, swiftly browsing through multiple magazines even though a stern sign above explicitly discouraged from doing so. I remember being specially enthralled when I discovered bookstores during my late teenage years in which you could sit down and read as many magazines you wished to do so to your heart's content!

With passage of time, having both written for many magazines as well as having worked in one, my magazine mania persists although I have become much more sensitive to a magazine's design and visual elements, whether it's finding a page layout too cluttered or excess white space or jerky flow of text and images. However, in the end, I don't allow too many technicalities to dilute my enjoyment; after all, what ultimately really intrigues me and cements my affection for a magazine are the quality of  the visuals that leap off its pages - and in this context, fashion magazines and their infinitely varied fashion shoots have particularly been this magazine connoisseur's visual delight what with the crazy mashing and meshing of multiple layers and pairing of photography, styling, fashion, and stories.

Lately, though, I have started to think about 'intervening' in these magazine fashion shoots, questioning their permanence and whether or not you can alter them? After years of being a spectator, what would it be like to participate within these stories? I began exploring the notion of introducing what I called external interventions into the image - a piece of jewelry or even a bindi - and then, photographing it. How would that combination of photography, paper, and object subsequently appear?

Well, why don't you have a look below to find out?

The Power of a Bindi

As I was flipping through the February issue of In Style, I paused upon this image of Sarah Jessica Parker contemplatively studying this striking Gabriel Specter mural. My gaze lingering upon  the half-revealed eyes and the upside down rainbow, an idea struck me: I impulsively fished out a blingy orange bindi from my bindi stash and embellished the image with it to add further drama. As I had borrowed the magazine from the library, I wondered if I should let the bindi remain on the page? I wonder what a subsequent reader would make of it; would they be tempted to add embellishments of their own - or would they leave the image as it was, any library property being sacred? Belonging to that school of thought myself, I eventually removed the bindi...but I could not help thinking of the library books which I borrowed during my university days; I was always amused to encounter the notes/comments that readers would scribble in the margins - how subsequent readers would then respond or enlarge upon the points, the marginalia commentaries becoming yet another critical conversation in the text. Ah, the secret conversations of library books!

This image formed a part of a beauty editorial; the dramatically contoured cobalt eye make-up along with the matching nails made this iridiscent image a perfect backdrop for my silver and amethyst ring.

Desert Rose
There's nothing quite like the pleasure of soaking in the beauty of a rose bouquet in full bloom; however, I find it difficult to relinquish them even when they have begun shedding their petals and becoming wan, drooping versions of their formerly radiant selves. I find myself bidding farewell to them by preserving one of the roses within the pages of a heavy tome as a reminder of the blooms which once invested my home with such beauty and grace. This sepia-pink dried rose is from one such bunch I bought in June last year - and I thought it would be a whimsical and surreal idea to transplant it into a sinuously rippled monochrome desert.


  1. The best art is created when it is spontaneous and fun. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and the unexpected surprises in the visuals you have created.

    The Power of the Bindi is fabulous. How much one dot changes a picture! I'd like to place it in my Tumblr blog to look at it again. Due acknowledgements given of course!


    1. Thank you so much, Priya, so glad you enjoyed reading it:) I agree, the element of improvisation/spontaneous can elevate a work to great and as you say, surprising heights. I must say that I had a lot of fun in creating these visuals too...keeps me on my toes, creatively speaking and a welcome break from my writing:)

      I would be honored to have you place 'The Power of the Bindi' in your tumblr...thank you so much and I look forward to seeing it in its new home!


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