The aesthetics of ruins

A most exciting photo opportunity is of photographing ruins. Especially forts and erstwhile royal palaces. What we are photographing is an unbearable silence of the ruins , the absence of human activity that once pervaded a physical place, the loss of space from time. We have to capture a sadness that comes through from the absence of an entire group of people who once lived in these places,and their participation in the decline and fall of institutions, some times an empire , a kingdom, a fortified royal palace.

Basically we have to photograph an absence of people, not the presence of broken buildings. We have to re-construct history, an entire story of whatever had happened in these ruins.This we do not do by narrating chronological events but by invoking the imagination of the visitor by linking dead people and voices with the physical environs.

We also create an atmosphere of absence, accentuating the presence of inanimate objects like rocks, dead trees,broken walls etc. We underline the bleakness of the surroundings to bring out the futility of all human endeavor and the essential ephemerality of human existence.

At Gwalior fort I tried to invoke the historic imagination focusing not merely on the ruined buildings but on the bleak landscape, the empty silent pathways, the terrible isolation that one experiences in the air. One would experience such isolation anywhere in a historic place, coming as we do from a totally different cultural milieu from that of the ancients who had lived there .

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Birds eye view

On a lazy hot afternoon stand on your balcony and observe life as it passes on the road below. You are not a bird from the tree but on a tree level with human eyes that can focus down on the tops of vertical walking things. You see seeing groups of people as a single presence doing their bit for their human drama. You are the cinematographer that can document their lives for a brief while from the vantage of your balcony. The advantage is they appear to you horizontally interacting with each other without the interference that your own presence in the same plane of existence may cause. For example the same people are sitting in your sofa and you click them doing something from your position on another sofa and you miss the way they interact with each other , the eye contacts that pass through them and bounce off their bodies.