Meditations of another kind on Nirvair’s image “Twinkle twinkle…”

Meditations of another kind

on Nirvair’s image

Twinkle twinkle little stars..

(Image of the month for january 2012 at )

Twinkle twinkle..

                                                                                        Twinkle twinkle little stars.. image by Nirvair Singh

I have often wondered if the moment of clicking a photograph could be called a compendium of our mental state. The choice of visual elements, their placement, the way various elements relate with each other can be said to express  deeply felt thoughts or emotions. Our mental state is stamped with  visual codes comprising many in-expressibles. In a sense every photograph may be told as a story;  (I just stopped short of saying epic) visibly of the outside world but essentially photographers’ own. A progression of events leading to the final outcome; the picture.

Paraphrasing Rolland Barthes “In short, all these “imitative” arts comprise two messages: a denoted message, which is the analogon itself, and a connoted message, which is the manner in which the society to a certain extent communicates what it thinks of it. ……”                                                                                             Image Music Text; The photographic message                    

In this background an attempt has been made to locate the message in one of the shots taken by Nirvair’s “Twinkle Twinkle little stars…” The shot appeared as Image of the month at CNP( for the month of January’2012. I’ll try to be as objective as possible but the fact that he is my son may bring in subjective play in the analysis. In doing so we might have to step outside the picture.

October 2011.

Nirvair has been in Dhaka for barely a month. It’s an alien place; food, language, customs, landscape everything is different. Till now nature photography has been his passion. He has grown up in places which abound in nature and open spaces. Here in a crowded city  nature and open space exist only in imagination. He is putting up in a rented room which is to be his home for next three years. He has Hasan, his senior at Pathshala and the landlord, Salaudin his classmate and Sazzad his teacher as his neighbours, friends and family.

Nirvair appears to be settled and reassures his parents through his missives. Experimenting with a new genre he is clicking a lot of self-portraits. These are dark, delible and quiet, hauntingly quiet. It seems he is trying to populate his world with the most likely familiarity; his own face.

Here’s one picture.

soul mate

                                                                                                Soulmate; image by Nirvair Singh

Come Diwali and Nirvair is surprised by Hasan who comes over with a pack of candles. Nirvair puts them up in his room and corridor. This heart-warming gesture helps him bond with the place. He shares the images of candle lit room and corridor with his family. These are also the first images of light from Dhaka. Images of hope one may say. Here are the images.

diwali lights-I

                                                                                       Diwali lights-I; image by Nirvair Singh


Diwali lights-II

                                                                Diwali lights-II; image by Nirvair Singh

Time goes by. Nirvair is invited to Hasan’s house to celebrate Independence Day of Bangladesh. Fire-works remind him of Diwali. He misses home. After some straight shots in the courtyard he scales a wall, as if looking over, for a glimpse of home. Standing there, he spots these faintly visible leaf-twins. Holding on to that moment he lets it seep within. He sees nature, or more appropriately, its imprint. The shot he frames may be read as a pictorial map of his longing. There are two leaves in the foreground. The background is a receding sprinkle of faintly visible, out of focus lights.

The image titled “Twinkle Twinkle little stars…” sounding like the nursery rhyme, resounds with happy wonderment. Could it be  something more than just lights strung in bokeh’ed shimmer? Is there another way of looking at the picture? Arati Rao, another CNP member and a accomplished photographer & travel writer   commented that the leaves in the image looked like a “venetian mask”. So what lies hidden behind the mask.

Out of focus lights stake their claim to the title obviously. What about the faintly visible leaves ? Their claim to space may be a modest one but we can be sure that that they have a major part to play in making the picture. It is possible that the title is an inverted reference, albeit unconsciously, to leaves which represent suppressed longing of the photographer.

Did he have a choice to go closer to the leaves? If he did then why did he take the picture the way he did? Is the picture a portrayal of nature on the fringe? Or it is  photographers own state where he sees himself surfacing slowly amidst a whole lot of unknowns.

Two leaves drowned in the darkness are lit up by distant lights. They symbolise hope in the form of nature; Nirvair’s alter ego. Resuscitating himself in an act of self-preservation

he’s got a glimpse of his ownself, nature, home.

All is well.

@my other blog;



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