An Interview with Bogusław Madej - Fulfilling Your Dreams No Matter What
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small, An Interview with Bogusław Madej - Fulfilling Your Dreams No Matter What, Bogusław Madej, "SP9DGO", photo: press materials of the Kraków Photography Month, sp9dgo_10.jpg
The Portfolio Review is the flagship event of the Kraków Month of Photography. As part of the contest, every photographer is invited to present their works to a broad audience and consult with an international teams of experts. Agnieszka Sural talks to Bogusław Madej, the winner of the 9th edition of Porfolio Review.
Agnieszka Sural: What is your winning piece, SP9DGO about?
Bogusław Madej: In this work, it is not the objects presented in the photographs that matter, but what is behind them - dreams, and the activity of pursuing them no matter what. It is also a piece about my friend Marek, who decided to fulfil his dream even though it seemed impossible. As a teenager, Marek used to read tons of travellers' books. He was fascinated with Krzysztof Baranowski, who had sailed around the globe all alone in 1973. Marek dreamt of doing the same thing. He built his own boat - radio, and in it, he sailed across the entire globe.
Was Marek a radio amateur?
Please imagine that in the 1970s having a phone at home was not as common as it is today. In order to connect to a different town, one had to go to the post office and request a conversation. But at the same time, Marek was capable of connecting to some other radio amateur in any given place on the globe.
He continued building his own radio for two years before he achieved this. It was not easy, due to lack of funding, experience, as well as the required parts. At the same time, Marek was learning Morse code. He delved into the secrets of shortwave communication, and obtained the necessary permits.
In the late 1980s, my friends from middle school used a CB radio. There were high antennas mounted on the roofs of houses. Sometimes when watching TV, one could hear people trying to exchange signals.
CB radio had a relatively limited range. The shortwave system actually allows us to connect with someone on the other side of the planet. The waves sent off by us bounce off the ionosphere, then off the sea, then once again off the ionosphere - in this way, our signal can actually reach as far as Australia. There are numerous other factors that also influence the quality of connection, the sun's activity is not without effect. It's a very broad area of expertise.
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How does such a connection go?
After exchanging basic call signals, they send out an audibility report. A chatterbox might also specify what kind of equipment he is using, and, if he is really a big talker, he may even mention the weather. When Marek was starting out, Morse code was the basic means of communication. Nowadays, a majority of young radio amateurs use either voice or digital modes.
What does the SP9DGO mean?
Every radio amateur has an individual callsign, which is granted after passing an exam and receiving a licence. It's a sign that is unique on a global scale, and it is assigned according to a specific pattern.
Your project consists of photographs that depicts fragments of the radio, as well as intriguing postcards.
Every amateur radio connection ends with the number 73, which represents a heartfelt greeting. Later, confirmation of the connection takes place in the form of a paper card exchanged between the radio amateurs by mail. Marek owns more than 2000 cards, and he has made over 8000 connections. Sometimes one waits for the paper card as long as a year, or even two years, and some cards never arrive. The cards often have photos of the correspondents, images of their radios, or places and things that they want to share with us. But there are other things, too.
You won the competition of a prestigious photographic festival. What are your plans now?
Two months ago, I finished working on my photo book called Pestka winogron (The Grape Kernel), devoted to the time I had spent in the boy scouts section, the 73 Kolib. This work consists of archive photographs, as well as contemporary images. It aims to mentally travel back in time to the 1970s. The cover of the book is made out of the same canvas as the tents that we used to sleep in. Since time has passed, the canvas has aged and changed, and thus each copy of the book is slightly different. I am also constantly working on organising my private archives. I am thinking about future projects.
Translated by Paulina Schlosser, 23/06/2014