The riveting “Society After Revolution” exhibit was celebrated on Wednesday, April 20, in the Nott Memorial. The exhibit was part of the Wikoff Student Gallery and was co-sponsored by the International Programs Office. Kian Nowrouzi ’16, who did not have any prior photography education, took the photographs.
A large but nevertheless intimate group attended the reception, many of whom were friends and family of Nowrouzi. The reception commenced with a small introduction made by the photographer himself, in which he explained his intentions of photographing, how and why he achieved certain aesthetics and how he became interested in photography in the first place.
Nowrouzi’s photographs document post-revolutionary changes in two socialist countries, Cuba and China. His photographs delve into how these changes impact the people as well as the progress of the post-revolutionary goals. Whether these goals have been fulfilled is a question that shall be answered by the countries’ societies.
Most of the pictures feature people; there were only two pictures of landscapes. The photos include close-ups of faces, kids playing in the streets, people sitting on steps and the backs of people walking.
These photos are evidently filtered black and white. However, the subject matter is anything but filtered. These photographs depict the raw human condition; whether they are candid or posed shots, all portray the human condition in it’s pure form. The black and white filter seems to effectively highlight the miniscule details that would normally be overlooked by the distraction of color. Nowrouzi informed us that the everyday lives of humans, coupled with the study of behavioral economics, have always fascinated him.
Nowrouzi’s love for photography started in 2014, while on a term abroad to Shanghai, China.
He began independently studying the art of photography by analyzing online blogs and documentaries revolving around the works of historically renowned photographers, and subsequently became so interested that he started taking photos himself.
Nowrouzi informed us that all the pictures were taken during his terms abroad in Cuba and China. He explained that the majority, if not all, of the pictures could be classified under the umbrella term of street photography. It is through this certain sector of photography that Nowrouzi effectively portrayed this concept of the human condition; he informed the group that he intended for the exhibit to be a microscopic view of a broader picture.
As stated before, Nowrouzi’s pictures are all filtered so that they’re black and white. One person asked him why his highlights and darks are so graphic, that is, there are not any grays in his photos. Nowrouzi confessed that this was a byproduct of a trial; one time he added the contrast and he ended up really liking it. He enjoyed how much more dramatic it made the picture look, so he continued the method. The effects were created with Adobe Light Room.
Someone then inquired if all the people featured in his photographs knew that they were getting their picture taken, to which Nowrouzi responded that when he desired to take a close-up of an individual he would ask their permission, whereas if he wanted a more candid shot at a further distance, he would just snap the picture.
I pulled Nowrouzi aside to ask him further questions after the open discussion. I first inquired how he fostered an interest in photography, in which he responded by informing me that he took his first photo on his mom’s camera, then with his own phone. He then decided to buy a “real” camera and started to learn all the various techniques. Nowrouzi then stated that he typically likes to capture rural life rather than urban life.
I then asked Nowrouzi why he only captures people. He informed me the subject matter of people interests him. He explained that when he walks down a street, he finds himself wondering what people are doing with their lives. Nowrouzi compared the everyday movement of people to the scenes on a crowded highway. He explained that when you’re sulking in your car on a backed-up highway, all these people are in the same place at the same exact time. After the traffic passes, everyone disperses and resumes their own agendas.
It is this dynamic that truly interests Nowrouzi, propelling his determination to capture snapshots of people’s lives.
Finally, I closed with asking Nowrouzi what his favorite photograph was. Intially, he indecisively picked out four or five that he really liked.
After pointing out several of his favorites, he ultimately chose a shot of a little boy with one of his hands in his mouth, contemplatingly gazing out into the street.
Nowrouzi’s photos not only depict the often overlooked monotony of people’s lives, but conveys it in a manner that tells the extradordinariness of people’s everyday lives. His photos effectively capture everyday life while also commenting on the fortitude and authenticity of these people.
You can check out more of Nowrouzi’s work on his website, www.kiannowrouzi.com.