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After a decade of service, my canon 550D camera jammed its shutter curtain back in 2019. I knew this was supposed to happen. But with time, I felt a certain kind of urge within, to photograph. Eventually, I broke the shutter curtain of the camera with a primitive desire that the camera would start functioning mechanically. And it started working again. A functioning but fragile camera I had in my hands with no mechanical control over the shutter speed. I had to retrain myself to figure out what can be done with such a light-catching machine. It made me think and reevaluate my fundamental relationship with the object: the camera.

I used the sensor as the surface to document, a sensor with an area of 22.3 x 14.9 mm couldn’t hold much variety of objects. So, I looked around and started photographing mundane objects instead of any exclusive objects, which could be placed on the small sensor. By applying my understanding of light, I photographed objects that vary from buttons, small seashells, cigarette butts, gas lighters, wires, earbuds, drops of water, safety pins, dead mosquitos, etc. A world was revealed that couldn't have been possible to see before if the camera had not stopped working. It was not an attempt to rediscover the mundane but to get even closer to the mundanity. It was even documentation of light and its behavior as it was observed and documented from a very close distance.

“Figuring” explores the relationship between a weary-decaying camera and an observer, translating the reality of the observable world in the process of iterative experimentations to find what is beneath the rational surface of photography techniques. It looks at the way of visualizing the light, and its behavior as it creates formations when obstructed by mundane matters.


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Debashish Chakrabarty
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