Although this is not actually one of my "Harbinger" artworks, it was while I was photographing Hinduism's notorious Goddess Kali and her "bizarre" entourage of fierce looking Yoginies, those grotesque creatures that do her bidding. When the creative inspiration for this "Harbinger" series of images first came to my mind. This Kali riverside composite mural was photographed in October of 1994 on 25 ISO Kodachrome slide film. Working with such an incredibly slow ISO film became a confining reality for me, because it meant that my camera's shutter speed times were exceedingly slow for most photographing occasions. Those young digitally based photographers of today, probably don't realize just how incredibly lucky they are, to be working with 1600, 3200 or 6400 ISO. I also had to work under very hot and incredibly humid conditions, using a film based Nikon F4, 35 mm camera with Nikon's 800 mm telephoto lens. At times I even added the 1x4X converter to the lens, thus turning it into a 1120 mm lens. I used the 800 mm lens and the 1.4X converter combination to do much of the sky and all of the water and swimming imagery. By the way the swimmers are holding up Kali's scythe, the one she uses to slay her adversaries. The swimmers had drifted and swum incredibly far down the Hooghly river, when I noticed the scythe being held above the water, that surprisingly was not planned. If I am remembering correctly, the images for this mural were gradually gathered over a three day period, and then later on it was all pieced together back in the studio.
I purchased the blue statue of Goddess Kali from one of the potters that had a front of home workshop in Kumartuli, that's the place where they construct mud and straw religious statues in Calcutta. Luckily for me I had developed a multi year relationship with some of the locals in Kumartuli. So it wasn't too difficult to convince the neighborhood children to help me carry the heavy river mud, straw and bamboo statue, down to the rivers rather steep bank and then pose for me, where this 972 frame image was created. I imagine that I probably paid them for all their time and efforts, but for some reason, perhaps the vagaries of time, I can't seem to remember if I actually did or not. Amazingly I managed to take one hundred rolls of 25 ISO Kodachrome film, spread over that three day period. Then later on, back in the studio and of course with the film having been returned from Kodak, who did the Kodachrome film processing. I remember waiting about a month for everything to be returned back the photo store, arriving as the rolls did twenty or thirty rolls in each of the shipments. I did have 1000 rolls for Kodak to process from that trip, so that's why it took so long for them to process everything. I slowly assembled the large image working frame by frame on a large specially designed 60X72 inch upright slide viewing light box. I designed and had someone locally build it for me. I carefully taped twenty seven rows of 35 mm mylar sleeves onto the glass surface of upright light box, this in order to hold the 35 mm un mounted Kodachrome film in their place, so I could construct the mural image, essentially working with the slide film frame by frame as it went along.
Once the image was fully assembled on the stand up light box, I then removed it in a very carefully planned order. This is so that I would be able to make film based inter negatives and eventually I imagined, scanning and digitizing all of the Kodachrome slides, of course I originally thought of batch scanning them, I never thought of scanning them one at a time, like I ended up doing. Then on my work only computer, a custom built PC unit, I assembled the images by grouping them into twenty four separate panels. Most of panels hold forty two Kodachrome images, the bottom six panels hold slightly less. Once the twenty four panels were assembled and contained the proper imagery, I brought the panels together to create the first digital version of my rivers edge Kali image, which is now, and this is quite hard for me to believe this, but it's nineteen years since I originally photographed it.
The image seen above has been slightly cropped, it is the more "resolved" digital version, of that original Kodachrome ISO 25 mural. I removed some of the sky and water imagery on the right hand side, just to center the Kali imagery. For the original image created back in 1995, film inter negatives were made for each frame, then they was printed out on Ektacolour paper and I hand cut and hand assembled the images working one tiny image at a time. I had originally planned to print this mural using the three colour gum method. Unfortunately that planned undertaking ended up proving to be cost and time prohibitive for me. However I did manage to do some three colour gum print testing on a good number of the Kodachrome slides and in fact the results were really quite excellent, amazing in fact, however it just wasn't meant to be printed out in gum, such a pity. As mentioned, above is the most recent re worked un-blended version of the "Kali"mural, however if you are interested in seeing how the original version looked, the mural that was put together back in 1995, it's located here ..... KALI RIVER MURAL
The image seen above is printed on 60X98 inch satin canvas medium with a UV protective satin overcoat, the actual image size is 56X92 inches, it has a printing resolution of 300 DPI, and the file size is 1.35 GB
The original "KALI RIVER MURAL" is printed on a 60x121 inch satin canvas medium with a UV satin protective overcoat, the actual image is 56X115 inches, with a printing resolution of 300 DPI, the file size is 1.60 GB.