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Our Material World

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Working Hard at Kaiken

The Material World – On the shores of Fagnano – Daring the weather (Map this!)

Both Neena and I are big fans of the book Material World, where photographer Peter Menzel photographed people from all over the world with all their possessions. One day, while driving we had the idea to do the same with all our things.

We wanted to realize the photo in front of a dramatic backdrop, but the weather in Patagonia is fierce and unpredictable. After weeks of scouting out locations we decided to do the shoot at Hosteria Kaiken on the shores of Lago Fagnano, in Tierra del Fuego.

We started early in the morning, a little after first light and worked into the afternoon. By the time we were done capturing the images the wind had kicked up and the sky was overcast. Much to our surprise the best one turned out to be the 40.81 megapixel panorama stitched with twelve images, not the single shot.

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Our Material World. Click here or on the picture to explore further


To view the 40.81 megapixel panorama click here.


11 Responses to “Our Material World”

  1. unawoken says:

    Very nice! You guys are like outliers for this material world project. I was introduced to this project in an interesting way. It was in an “introduction to design” class. The Prof. asked us what we think is important to people. Then he juxtaposed images from “Material World” with pictures of what people rescue from their homes in natural disasters. It is very interesting what people value!
    The very fact that you are able to carry your home around for more than a year already suggests how your “material world” view is :)
    Very nice

  2. Suhasini Taskar says:

    Shreesh and Neena,
    It is pretty amazing as to how few things (material goods) you folks needed to complete this long and demanding journey of 19 months. It also speaks about your ingenuity and excellent organizational skills to select the essentials and to store them in such a way that you can pull out when needed. To me, this is not an easy task. It requires great vision and also hard work. Successful completion of this mission deserves a PH.D in project management.
    Looking forward to seeing you,

  3. Unawoken says:

    I think this pic should be on the cover of your coffee table book

  4. Shreesh says:

    Vinay –
    We certainly are Outliers when it comes to possessions, if compared to an average Western family. The more shit you have the more you think about it, the more you feel like you need, and the more you feel like you have to protect it.

    But around the globe most people do with far less, as you will find in the Material World photographs. I was especially struck by how little the Indian family in the link above has. This is supposed to be a median family.

    Even with this little stuff I was struck by how many items were either completely unused or little used, but it is very hard to know which ones ahead of time.

  5. Shreesh says:

    Of course, like most travelers we brought too much stuff! In hindsight I would leave most of the camping gear behind, along with the table and chairs.
    Look forward to being back!

  6. Lakshmi says:

    But we put that table and the chairs to good use in Colombia! That was a great, memorable evening in the Plaza.

  7. madhuri says:

    Awesome! Your material world is very impressive! Motivates me to get started on a larger scale spring cleaning this year.
    Liked the nova link. The comparison between families is very nice.

  8. Neena says:

    Lakshmi, You are right. However, I am sure that we could have had Fellini-esque moments without having to lug a chair and table around for 37,000 miles!
    Thanks! That photo was a lot of work!

  9. Shreesh says:

    Neena –
    Lakshmi has a good point. Pangloss would say the entire raison d’etre of the table, its construction in aluminum, its marketing and subsequent placement in REI, its appeal and purchase by a couple from San Francisco, and its long overland travel to Villa de Leyva, Colombia, was to provide several hours of surrealistic pleasure to four intrepid voyagers.

    The table was a gift to us and for a brief period the citizens of a small tourist town in the Colombian highlands. Maybe somewhere in Colombia there is a man to turns to his wife and says “Remember that evening we went for a stroll and found in the middle of our plaza…”

  10. Oh yes, isn’t that an amazing book. My uncle once gave it to me as a gift, and I remember so many of the pictures, even though I had forgotten the title of the book. So thanks bringing that up!
    Nicely done on keeping the number of shoes down. We started on two pair each [sandals and hiking boots], but somehow now both have 5 pair! I believe that the more space you have, the more you collect and it’s amazing how many ‘hidden corners’ you are able to find after travelling in a car for a while!

  11. Neena says:

    Hello Karin and Coen,
    Hmm… I am afraid that we have 5 pair each too! Although I think we can do without the running shoes…we really did not need them. So we would have normal leather shoes, Tevas, hiking boots and hawaianas. I think that’s a bare minimum if one is interested in hiking as well as going out.
    It was fun but very hard work taking this picture and putting it up on the web… but rewarding nonetheless!

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