UC San Diego researcher finds cathartic outlet in creating abstract photographs

Rishi Deka, UC San Diego postdoctoral researcher in radiation medicine and award-winning photojournalist, has set out to create what he calls “psychedelic abstract photography” in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is a way, he says, of “internalizing the chaotic outside world in which we live”.

Deka, who returned to her native San Diego after earning undergraduate degrees in economics from UC Berkeley and a doctorate. in the University of Utah Health Services Research, began photographing the beaches of La Jolla with “psychedelic” elements such as streaks (lines and grooves) or color blurs in the sky and the sand.

He gets the look by shaking or rotating the camera lens.

Rishi Deka took this photo at Torrey Pines State Beach, making it look “surreal”.

(Rishi Deka)

The photos, said Deka, represent “a journey to a different reality. It’s a real photo but it shows a surreal perspective on things “which, he hopes,” causes changes in thoughts and moods. “

Deka said his abstract photography began last spring when he “wasn’t bad at home,” finding the news, politics and stay-at-home orders “stressful to think about.”

“In order to take a break and have my own space,” he said, “I became more interested in artistic photography. It’s a cathartic release.

Deka said he wanted people who view his abstract photograph to “think of other perspectives, question their own views” and envision “a different way of seeing things.”

“At the end of the day, this is the heart of my work,” he said. “There is another reality, and there are views you can take from another reality. This is what I try to get in the work I do. The point is to get others to question their own thoughts and ideas about everything. Don’t be so narrow-minded and limited in different points of view.

Deka said: “One thing I feel right now is that society is really polarized. I feel like people don’t take other perspectives and look at other points of view. “

The photography Deka produces intersects with his academic work, he said. “I do a lot of research on mental health and believe that a lot of psychiatrists themselves are exhausted. “

Recent events related to social justice, he said, have further exposed “insensitivity” in society, Deka said. “I feel like my work highlights issues that are relevant to under-represented groups; issues that people may not be aware of. It’s good to be aware of this. “

Rishi Deka also writes and paints, but photography is her favorite medium.

Rishi Deka also writes and paints, but photography is her favorite medium.


Deka said he has turned to photography as a creative outlet since he was a teenager. “It’s therapeutic; it helps me to forget all the stress in my life. I like to capture images behind a lens.

“When I was in high school [in Utah], I started working for the student newspaper, ”he said. “It was my first foray into photojournalism,” during which he documented sporting and other events.

In 2017, Deka’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in Utah won the college newspaper an award.

He continued his photojournalistic work in San Diego, taking photos of several events and submitting some to the Associated Press, which published the images of Deka.

Deka doesn’t know what the future holds for him once his postdoctoral work is done, but he knows photography will be part of it. “Photography is a very powerful medium,” he said. “I want to send the message to people that there is hope.”

To see more of Deka’s photographs, visit rishideka.com. ??

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