For most people in the western world, the word paradise conjures images of small tropical islands with white sandy beaches and coconut groves (check out an image web search for paradise and take a look at the results if you don’t trust this assumption). But what’s it really like for the people living in the places we envision as paradise?
Where’s Paradise? is a series that puts these two notions side by side, the mostly undefined vision of paradise that we have when looking at images of small untouched tropical islands, surrounded by calm azure seas and the actual lives of the actual people that live in these often remote places.
Episode 1 – Nusa Lembongan
Bali is a lot of people’s idea of a perfect tropical island, great landscapes, magnificent beaches, lush jungles, an intricate and truly exotic culture with a unique belief system and an elaborate set of rituals. The first lines in a Lonely Planet article on Bali’s top 25 experiences reads: The mere mention of ‘Bali‘ evokes thoughts of a paradise. It’s more than a place: it’s a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind.
However at 5632 sq. km (2175 sq. mi) and a population of almost 4 million, Bali is a bit too crowded and large to match that postcard perfect image of an isolated tropical paradise, and this without even taking into account the large number of expats that have settled there and altered Bali’s character in the last decades.
Nusa Lembongan, a small island of 8 sq. km (3 sq. mi) and approximately 7000 inhabitants, about 20 km southeast of Bali, seems however to better fit the description of a small paradise island. Its inhabitants are ethnic balinese, thus it retains the allure of an elaborate exotic culture. Its shores are graced with impeccable white beaches and countless coconut trees, it features pristine coral reefs that host an incredible array of marine animals and it even has its very own mangrove forrest.
All these elements made it the perfect starting point in our exploration, to better understand why we associate the images of tropical islands with the notion of paradise and what’ s it really like for the people living on one of these paradises.
The Where’s Paradise? project is made up of two distinct parts. A part containing a documentary film, photos and our recorded and processed observations of the island of Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia (in the case of the first episode). All of them are available online for free, the documentary can be viewed on Vimeo and the photos on 500px and Flickr.
The second part of the project is the Where’s Paradise? Episode 1: Nusa Lembongan iPad app which contains all of the content mentioned above in a beautiful package, designed and lovingly handcrafted by us, the same two people who made the rest of the content.
We get a lot of great free content from the web everyday ourselves, so charging for the content itself didn’t feel right to us. That’s why we are making all the content available online for free.
So why are we charging for the iPad App? Because by buying the iPad app, you’ll get to experience the film, the photos and our thoughts and observations of the island paradise all in one place, as a single piece, a single multifaceted story, in a design that we created specifically for this purpose. And charging for the app will hopefully also allow us to make the next episodes.
We’re not asking for donations and promising a project or a product that may or may not be everything that was initially promised, or even come out at all, we are already delivering a polished piece and if enough people like it, we’ll get to do the next episodes. Simple as that.
But why built an iPad app in the first place? A number of reasons actually, but most importantly because we really like the platform, both the device itself and the App Store ecosystem. Besides that, we want to experiment, and see if there’s room for successfully distributing this sort of an artistic project on the platform.