The Story of The Dizard
shankar barua

Once upon a time almost a millenium ago now (in the mid-1990s), I decided to take a long motorcyle ride through some parts of the countryside of India with my good friend Janak Das, who stood ready to join me as one of the finest travelling companions one could ask for, with his own bike. A bike for me too was adjusted soon from due-payment for a writing assignment I'd just completed, and we were off!

Many days later, on a hot afternoon of hard riding, at a broad sweeping curve of high road overlooking miles of country near the forests of magic Bastar, I espied this little fellow laid out squashed on the road and came to a halt in response to the vision under a lonely tree by the roadside not fifty yards beyond. As Janak came to a stop beside me, I paused just to swig a draught of chill water from his huge thermos-fask before pulling out my camera and walking back to the dizard.

... and as I bent over him to shoot the picture, I'm damned if he didn't telepathically communicate to me a strident "What?!!"

Though I did take the picture anyway, my camera of the moment just happened to be the fellow at left,.. minus its head, which had been guillotined three unattended years after it had taken a good dunking in the sea. As a result, parallax focusing was out, and ~wouldn't you know it~ the only picture ever taken of the original dizard turned out out-focus! And to boot, it seems also to be now entirely lost to mankind (which is why we're not reproducing it here for you)!!

Anyway, a couple of years later, friends and I got together on assembling a "Digital Art" show to explore what was happening in town, and some strange compulsion made me scan in the poor ole out-focus dizard as raw material for some of the images I planned to do for this.

It perhaps helped that I initially worked with the dizard on a friend's computer using a B/W monitor, for the question of how to address it seemed clear as a bell from the very beginning. Put simply: we cranked up contrast, used the magic-wand a lot, erasers just a bit, then auto-traced the image into a vector file, spruced him up some more and soon had him ready for use in any vector program, or to be exported for use in any raster program. The temple element in the composition above was similarly derived from another B/W photograph shot on the same trip, of a temple in Khajuraho (we've included an old CorelDraw file of the full image on this CD for browsers who may like to work with it ~ see <your CD driveletter>;/idea/lizztory/lizztemp.cdr).

In the end, that first ole Digital Art show we'd dreamed up never even happened. The very eminent global printer-manufacturer who'd come in to sponsor it suddenly "clarified" that they expected to showcase their large-format inkjet printer down the centre of the gallery through the duration of the show! As this came quite late in the day, I personally took the decision to tank the show instead.

Some folks still ask me why ~ I wonder why.