The darkness in this image is very effective. We, the viewers, cannot fully know what is going on without help from Velu and Surya (and Rishabh). Even though he is standing, Velu’s form almost disappears into the water, underlining both the porosity of the body and his intimate encounters with toxified landscapes.
The image is a photo, a striking portait of a male surfer. It is a headshot, and appears to have been taken in a studio setting, with a seamless background and lit by portrait lighting (there appear to be two lamps reflected in his eyes). But this is a guess, since I cannot discern a background. The photo raises so many questions. If it is not a documentary shot, then it staged, the slag artfully (and effectively) applied. I understand the image to be illustrative of the caption and the issue it raises. There is a photographic aesthetic, about masculinity, pollution, and surfing culture --which is typically depicted as closely connected/attuned to the natural world—— that this image turns on its head. It is compelling.
Unclear, although I assume it is created by the ethnographer. It’s centering of the drain, which lies under some kind of road or overpass, seems to underline the forgotten nature of the pathways of chemical toxicity. (Especially in relation to the first image, whose depiction of the former factory site also feels lonely and abandoned). The choice of season also enhances this aesthetic, depicting the landscape as barren in a particular way.
The image is found. It portrays order and sorting. Categorisation of history. It is also almost timeless within about a 40 year boundary - was this a choice?
Image 1's black and white composition is notable, seemingly rendering the landfill timeless and/or a relic of past events and consumption. There is little sense of what happens underneath it's elaborate system of pipes and covers. Compared to Image 2, it's scale seems smaller or more intimate, as it is hard to tell how large the landfill is, even on the surface. Unclear if Image 1 is found or created.
Image 2 provides an interesting contrast, both in scale and tone. It is in full color and gives a birds-eye view of the areas surrounding West Lake. In the future, I'd be interesting in seeing other visual perspectives, such as from the hill of the winery. What insights emerge from all of these different POVs on the same "place?"
The photo was published in a newspaper and appears to be a snapshot of a team of academics or activists in a courthouse. It was found by the ethnographer. Its composition is of a group photo, landscape orientation, and not professionally photographed. It has a snapshot feel, not everyone is looking at the camera, and some people are craning their necks to be seen. It seems that not much attention was paid to composition or aesthetic, which is not a critique, but a rather important clue as to the nature of the circumstances in which the photo was taken.
This image was created by the ethnographer during a fieldtrip. The composition is strong I think, as the space opens up in front of the viewer - drawing your eye to the figures in the photo. The scientist (although they could be anyone, in theory, we only know this or assume this because we are told of three people walking to the field site) stride ahead - one looking down and one looking ahead. Not waiting for you. The grey cloud that hangs over the silhouette of the person hand loading sand into the lorry is very portentous.