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Picture That!

Bali Tourism Expert Lambasts Quality of Bali Photography on UNESCO Heritage Website

(2/16/2013) A Bali tourism expert and educator Professor I Nyoman Darma Putra doesn’t like the way the Balinese subak system of water irrigation is portrayed on the UNESCO Website. According to the Professor, the pictures chosen and displayed on the UNESCO site are “not representative” of Bali’s ancient system of terraced rice fields.

The distinguished professor from Bali’s Udayana University said on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, “”UNESCO has established the ‘subak’ as part of the World Heritage System, although it is to be regretted that the illustrative photographs shown on their website fall far short of good photography.

The six photos that so displease Professor Darma Putra can be found on the [UNESCO Subak Page]  and were apparently provided to UNESCO by the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Education.

In truth, the copyrighted pictures are far from "best" representations of Bali and its subak rice terrace system.

Quoted by Kompas.com, Professor Darma Putra said: “Many are surprised as to why UNESCO as an international organization did not try harder to obtain an international standard of photography.”

Professor Darma Putra is the author of a book entitled “Tourism Development and Terrorism in Bali.”

Saying the pictures used to showcase Bali’s subak system are of the lowest quality, he contrasted them with other areas of Bali. “Photographs of cultural heritage sites such as Komodo Island and Candi Borobudur can be said to be sufficiently beautiful and representative,” said Darma Putra.

UNESCO elevated the subak system of Bali to World Heritage status in mid-2012 – bestowing the official title of “Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy"

Darma Putra continued to bemoan what he sees as bad photographic editing of the UNESCO World Heritage website, saying the organization had the twin responsibilities of both preserving and promoting heritage.

But, according to the professor, because of the poor quality of photographic illustrations selected by UNESCO, the ability to promote Bali’s subak system has been severely limited. Continuing in the same vein, Darma Putra said: “Anyone who sees the photo of Bali’s subak system on the UNESCO website will not be attracted to visit and see them directly.”

Professor Darma Putra is urging that the photographs of Bali’s subak system on the UNESCO website be replace as a matter of urgency with images of a more international standard in order that the “beautiful rice terraces and the unique rituals surrounding them” can be presented.

Concluding, he said: “Indonesia and Bali has many photographers and they have extensive collections of photographs of terraced rice fields that are beautiful and could be used on the UNESCO website to make the subject pages more beautiful."
 
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