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Everything is Energy


Alexander Abdalian: Team Boston

Team led by Margot Cheel and Lynne Damianos

Project Essay: Flame On, August 10, 2011

Fire is a destructive and powerful element. Through poi, one is able to fully control this element through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Fire poi is not for everyone and takes many years to master.

Poi is an ancient art form and self-defense method developed in the Maori culture in New Zealand. It has slowly spread and made its way to Europe and the Americas through travelers and word of mouth as a form of expression similar to dance. The fire poi themselves are constructed from a chain attached to a kevlar-blend wick that can be knotted to form a monkeys’ fist. It is then soaked in kerosene and lit.

Sidney Felts, a student from the University of Wisconsin, recently returned from a semester abroad in Australia where he took part in a poi retreat to study the ancient art form and better his skill. Sidney has been spinning fire for about two years now. Every time he picks it up is different — depending on his internal mood and energy, the style and movements change.

Through these images I attempt to portray this powerful energy source in a beautifully simple manner. All while displaying the control one can have over such a destructive element as fire. Although fire may be destructive and dangerous, having complete control of the fire allows for the beauty of the energy source to emerge. When shooting longer exposures, designs and shapes are able to evolve which give fire a beautiful, poetic side.

Over the course of my experience shooting this subject, I have been inspired to pick up fire poi as a hobby myself. The rush from controlling such a force is incomparable to anything I have ever tried before.

Creative Brief: July 18, 2011, Flame On

My primary subject is Sid Felts, a student at University of Wisconsin - Madison, who has come back to his hometown for the summer and has continued his hobby of poi.

Poi is an ancient art form as well as self-defense in the Maori culture in New Zealand. It has slowly made its way to Europe and the Americas through travelers and word of mouth. Sidney picked up the art form and has been self-taught for a little over a year now. He has studied poi during retreats both at school as well as in Australia. His energy and mood dictates the ‘style’ and formations he creates while spinning either fire or lights.

Fire, being one of the most dangerous and destructive of the four elements, is harnessed so simply and gracefully during his poi routines. The control he has of two balls of flame is truly an art form that he still has much to learn about in order to perfect his craft.

Through these images I am hoping to portray this powerful energy source in a beautifully simple manner, as well as to highlight the control one can have over an element such as fire.

Many of the times I have gone to shoot Sidney have been at night, so that the fire is the brightest source of light and the strongest point of energy. Long exposures with the camera mounted on a tripod allows for the evolution of abstract yet simple designs, as the fire trails through the air.


"Triquetra"
All images in this essay © Alexander Abdalian


"Balance"


"It’s Okay to Play With Fire"

For more about Alexander Abdalian and his photography, visit his Web site: http://www.alexanderabdalian.com.