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Posing your own way

Flying: An example of levitation photography at Taman Fatahillah in Jakarta. Photo courtesy of Silva Gustani Fauziah

Publication Date : 18-04-2012

 

Remember the iconic pose of someone offering the peace sign, showing off their signature smile when a camera is directed at them?

Or the revolutionary one-armed pose in which people rely on their gadgetry to take the best yet monotonous angles of themselves?

Well, some aren’t doing that anymore.

Some individuals are not afraid to get extreme in their posing for photographs, as they hope to become the most unique and the most expressive in front of the camera.

Some play dead in very unusual places, some pretend to fly, while others even involve their friends in showing off the wackiest styles.

In a world where everyone has the same right to expose themselves through unlimited access to social media, it seems that people are challenged to get themselves noticed, with one of the obvious ways offering the craziest expression in photos posted on Facebook walls.

"It is more like self-expression. I want to try something different, to make myself unique [so that] I can show off to other people,” said Kevin Linggaya, who claims to have brought “planking” to Indonesia.

The 25-year-old said he believes he pioneered what is more popularly known as planking in Indonesia, a pose where people lie facedown with both hands stiffly to their side, mimicking a wooden plank, and usually taken in unusual locations with only one rule: the weirder the better.

"I heard about it from my friend in Singapore. I figured why I don’t try it here,” he said.

Planking itself has been a global craze. Plankers all over the world have been competing through social media, showing off their best planking poses on Facebook or Twitter.

Two guys from England, Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon, are believed to have create planking in 2000, the BBC has reported.

However, American comedian Tom Green claimed he invented the stunt back in 1994.

Whoever started it, the planking photo fad spread across the world, with Indonesians among the latest adopters.

Following in the steps of their foreign counterparts, Kevin and two of his friends set up a Facebook fan page called Planking Indonesia in May 2011, which soon attracted hundreds of followers.

Planking Indonesia was followed by similar fan pages and the websites of other groups that share the same interest in the prank photos.

Images of people planking in public spaces or quirky spots like tollgates or roofs have started to flood local social media, creating a nationwide trend.

Even an incident in Australia, where a young man fell to his own death after trying the stunt on a balcony railing, hasn’t deterred Indonesians from planking themselves.

"I think Indonesians haven’t yet reached the level where people risk their own lives when planking,” Kevin said.

However, people’s enthusiasm for the activity seems to have faded away, with or without incidents, as Kevin explained that planking was nothing but a short-term trend.

The initiator of Planking Indonesia even admitted that he stopped planking. At first, Kevin diligently posted his planking poses every time he had time, but now hardly ever. The web developer blamed it on his maddening work hours.

"This planking thing is just a euphoria. I believe planking was a trend for 2011, and I believe 2012 will be another,” he said.

Maybe what Kevin is referring to is the recent hype for levitation photography, which involves photo techniques that make people look like they are flying.

A group of photography aficionados set up a local community that they call LevitasiHore (Hooray, Levitation) which is inspired by a photoblog created by Natsumi Hayashi in Japan showing herself flying amid breathtaking colorful backgrounds.

One of the founders, Anggun Adi but better known as Goen, distinguished levitating from planking through the technique, in which the former requires more sophisticated photo skills.

Levitation photography, according to Goen, was first coined in 1936 when a black-and-white picture captured Indian yogi Pullavar levitating in a horizontal position.

Goen, a graphic artist, explained that the goal in levitation photography was to depict models flying as naturally as possible. Photographers can choose between two methods, either through the camera’s setting or photo editing, which are certainly not needed in planking as the models need only lie still.

"A model sometimes has to wear hairpins to get the best levitating pose, which can easily be ruined if the hair is messed up,” added another founder, Silva Gustani Fauziah, 23.

Following their slogan “We Levitate not Jump”, the photographer members of LevitasiHore try to make their model seem like they are flying effortlessly, showing them doing daily activities like walking, pushing carts or throwing away garbage while floating in the air.

These collections of magical photos can be viewed at www.levitasihore.net, which the community set up in December of last year after its first photo hunt.

Levitation photography may not have yet reached the same level of popularity as planking worldwide, but the subject has attracted the attention of bloggers and social media activists in Indonesia.

Yahoo! Indonesia has included LevitasiHore in their list of top five most famous communities on Twitter in 2012. They have almost 2,500 followers in less than one year.

But, will this craze end up like planking?

One levitation photography enthusiast, Aby Muhammad, is convinced LevitasiHore is different from other short-lived photo communities as the sense of togetherness among members is relatively strong.

The group says it holds routine photo hunting and gathering sessions at least once a month to maintain contact between members.

The next question is how long the trend will last, as different and more creative photo styles continue to pop up, set to create new crazes.

People all around the world may have heard of owling, batmanning or teapotting as other versions of planking, but Indonesia seems ready to welcome a new photo trend called packing.

Comedian Pandji Pragiwaksono is believed to have coined the term three months ago. He introduced the style by posting to his Twitter account a photo of him and his friends squeezing themselves in a miniature goalpost, making them look like a package of people in a small box.

Whether planking, levitating or something else, it is anyone or everyone’s call to make him or herself memorable in front of the camera.

 

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