Prior to the lockdown, Unni was busy doing a collection of images on rocks. He would shoot the big stones re-imagining them as meteorites zipping in house and eventually stamp the movie with a black dot; “the mark of a human touch.”
Confined to his residence in the rural and wooded space of Kodaly, due to the lockdown, he started filming leaves. “Leaves are full of life, busy doing Nature’s work. I began to observe and film their beauty,” he says. His idea quickly modified as the quantity of deaths from COVID-19 began to rise and loss of life grew to become a residing presence. “The mood changed, I could no longer remain unaffected. As an artiste and a medical professional, I wanted to pay a tribute to each person who had succumbed to the virus,” says Unni who started amassing fallen leaves from his backyard, yard and through walks to the river’s edge close to his home.
Unni’s modus operandi is to choose leaves that reveal an individuality — construction, texture, form, characteristic and sweetness. “Each person has a special character and individualism that needs to be honoured,” he says. He applies a black dot on the leaf, “as a mark of physical loss, and as a particle of the infinite celestial void that contains the essence of the dead.” Between the residing and the fallen leaves, he meditates over “the enigma of death”, which “imparts a unique supernatural charisma.”
From 100 leaves, he can cull just a few distinctive ones, and makes use of scanography to movie and print them on 2×3 ft massive format archival cotton rag. Currently with over 500 frames carried out, he plans to purchase the information of the lifeless and title every work after a fallen hero.
The founding director of Photomuse, the museum of images, Unni arrange this distinctive centre at Kodaly in 2014. Being distant however nearer to native communities, the centre has been an lively supply of selling the artwork and its understanding. In 2017, Unni did a documentary collection on the Kadar tribes of the Annapantham forest in the Vellikulangara Reserve Forest, by which he documented the individuals of the tribe who misplaced their habitation in a disastrous landslip in 2005.
As a conceptual photographer, his newest work Transformations, a solo present at Cleveland Photofest final yr, drew acclaim. Currently, Unni is a Senior Fellow with Ministry of Culture, Government of India, for Creative Photography and was inducted for his analysis on Photographic Dyptichs.
“I began making pictures of the fallen leaves in April 2020. I will continue to make pictures of the fallen leaves until the last victim has fallen, or until I fall, and inscribe the pictures with tales of humanity,” he says.