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Matinee: 'Without You' By Naveen Gowtham Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

26 August 2017

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 202nd in our series of Saturday matinees today: Without You by Naveen Gowtham.

This 2:41 video accompanied by Di Evantile's haunting piano composition Loneliness) is a slide show of square black-and-white images laid out in 31 pairs.

In those pairs Gowtham makes poetry.

One of the first pairs that caught our attention was at the 20 second mark where a shot upward into the light through the dark branches of a tree was paired with a similar image that, on closer inspection, turned out to be the black cracks of dried mud.

The branches, which are alive, and the cracks, which are an absence, are both black. The sky above and the dried mud below are both light. And yet these opposites display a similar pattern.

It almost makes you wonder what other similarities you are missing.

At the 55 second mark, Gowtham presents what would appear to be two rather unremarkable images. On the left is a wire lined with birds, a few leaving, a few just arriving to take the vacated spaces. On the right with the same light background is a feather falling to earth.

You can make of that what you will, but you can and you will. It's something to meditate on.

'Without You' is the title of this piece but it could be said by any single image in a diptych to its mate.

A 1:35 Gowtham shows a young man in the fetal position sleeping under street light on the sidewalk in front of a steel gate. On the other a doll laying in the sun on the sand.

The doll, obviously, is having a better day.

You get the idea. Each side of the presentation comments on the other. You go back and forth thinking about the two sides.

That's the art of the diptych.

It packs an emotional punch into the juxtaposition of two related but different images. The similarity makes the connection but the difference makes you think.

While the quality of the images varies, that isn't important. They are recognizable. That's what matters. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to inspire you to reflect on them.

Even more, though, the diptych is a different form of composition. "Without You" is the title of this piece but it could be said by any single image in a diptych to its mate. The power of the composition is in the two images. Neither, standing alone, makes the same impression. Or even a sufficient one.

But pair them and they are dynamite.

You don't shoot in pairs, of course. Although you might, wandering around, see something that reminds you of a previous shot. The diptych of distant birds on the beach and the close-up of their foot prints in wet sand is an example of that.

But the pairing happens in editing when you look over your collection and see connections. Putting them together makes them seem made for each other.

Gowtham's choice of a square format in black-and-white emphasizes the match rather nicely. You discern the differences at your leisure.

You'll want to watch this piece more than once to see what, in five seconds each, you missed the first time.

Gowtham is from the Thiruvarur district in Tamilnadu, India. He earned a degree in engineering and now works for an IT company in Chennai while running his own photo studio. His interest in photography, which he says is "just the thing that I could do all day and all of the time," was inspired by his father.

You can see more of Gowtham's work on Behance and Flickr.

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