Wildlife photographer-filmmaker Sandesh Kadur and artist Raghava K.K. are National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers 2013, recognised for pushing the boundaries in their field of work
As the world around us changes, apparently so do our concepts of its explorers. Two Indians, and Bangaloreans at that, have been inducted into National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Programme 2013 — while Sandesh Kadur is a wildlife filmmaker and photographer, artist Raghava K.K. is an artist.
Celebrating its 125 year, National Geographic’s programme “recognises and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists and innovators who are at the forefront of discovery, adventure and global problem-solving while still early in their careers”. Each Emerging Explorer receives a 10,000-dollar award to assist further exploration.
“I’ve been fond of the term ‘explorer’ and attached to it since childhood. I’ve always looked up to people like Jacques Cousteau, and Jane Goodall,” says Sandesh Kadur. Sandesh’s films and photography books raise awareness about the world’s threatened species and habitats, and hopes to inspire people to protect them. He’s a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a forum that hopes to take pictures to the next level and create action, using photography as a powerful tool.
Sandesh Kadur, with more than five documentary films and three coffee table books to his credit, has spent the last five years exploring the remotest corners of the Eastern Himalayas for a book Himalaya: Mountains of Life.
“Even after the completion of this mega-project I’ve only come to realise that there’s a lot more left to explore and discover out there. That’s the beauty of being an explorer — your job never ends.” Sandesh has been travelling through the Western Ghats documenting the Monsoon, shuttling between Goa, Dandeli, Wayanad, and Mudumalai since June. “I’ve also been travelling in the North East, filming a five-part series for BBC,” he says. Two of his films, Return of the Clouded Leopards and North-Eastern Diaries: Seeking Wildlife in the Eastern Himalayas have been nominated for the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, New York, this year.
NatGeo had invited the Explorers for a 10-day symposium in June called Explorers’ Week, where all explorers from this year and the last, got to interact with each other, and look at possible collaborations.“I’m possibly the first artist in the 125 years of NatGeo’s history to be inducted as an Explorer,” says Raghava K.K. who blends creativity and technology to develop interactive art that considers issues from multiple perspectives. He’s starting a company in Bangalore to develop a web-based tool to extend his vision. “I’m trying to push the boundaries of art. Whatever I know about the human condition, I’m applying it to science. I’m using art to explore myself, and the world around me. NatGeo has acknowledged that storytelling is important to save the world.” Raghava created a flutter in that ambiguous space between art and science with his “brain art project”, using brainwaves to manipulate art. “It’s about plugging biochemistry to artwork.” The four-time TED speaker recently gave a TED-MED talk about how art and science have the same objective but use different methods of enquiry, and the pressing need to work together.
Raghava, who began his career as a newspaper cartoonist, has been shuttling between New York and Bangalore these past few years. “I’ve been coming to India three to five times a year, and found myself really enjoying it here. I’ve taken on a project here now for a year. I felt I had been talking about India all over the world but had lost touch with India.” The argument he has presented the world over has been that India is an “impossible democracy” and therefore it’s important to experiment in creativity and empathy, says Raghava. “There has been no other experiment in secularism as this, elsewhere in the world. Exposure leads to creativity, and creativity leads to engendering empathy.”