Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Magnum In Motion/Abbas: Children Of The Lotus

Magnum In Motion has produced Children Of The Lotus, a multimedia slideshow of Abbas' photographs made during the photographer's travels in 12 Buddhist countries spanning the better part of three years.

Abbas' inspiration was the photograph (it's really a poignant mug shot) of a young Khmer girl who was executed by a genocidal regime. He wonders how a Buddhist society, presumably full of compassion, be able to countenance the massacre and starvation of a quarter of its population?

Most of the images in the slideshow are in black & white, with a few at the end that are in color. Abbas chose to photograph in black & white because, as he tells us, he doesn't describe reality but aims to transcend it. I would have much preferred if the slideshow was either in black & white or color...I suppose the producers had a reason to do otherwise.

I also found the use of the zooming in for close ups and Ken Burns effect somewhat overdone and heavy-handed...and to use throat singing (more of the Mongolian genre) to be the wrong choice to accompany this production. It seems the producers obtained the audio from With the majority of the countries covered in the slideshow being of the Theravada branch of Buddhism, I'm quite sure they could've easily found more appropriate chants.

In multimedia, bad audio kills great photographs. In this project, it's not that it's bad...but it's not relevant. If all the photos had been of Tibetan (although I'm not sure if the chanting are indeed could be Mongolian) Buddhism, it would've been fine.

Having said that, work by Abbas is still work by Abbas and the mute button is within reach.