Message from the Aral – Documentary Photography by Iulia Galushina

Scientist from Kazakhstan Boris Smerdov is 77 years old. Half a lifetime he has spent “deeply worried about” the Aral Sea. On retirement, the scientist has been descrambling the secret signs he discovered at the bottom of the Aral Sea.
Maps of the Aral Sea. Before the Aral expedition, Boris Afanasievich bought very detailed maps published in 1987 and 1964. The scale of the first map is 1: 500,000 in one centimeter 5 kilometers, of the second one, 1: 1,000,000, in one centimeter 10 kilometers. The scientist applied the location of Aral signs and channels from the Small Sea to Great Sea. He still cherishes these maps.

Scientist from Kazakhstan Boris Smerdov is 77 years old. Half a lifetime he has spent “deeply worried about” the Aral Sea. On retirement, the scientist has been descrambling the secret signs he discovered at the bottom of the Aral Sea.

The border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan runs along the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea was one of the largest lakes on the planet, but in 1961 the water level in the Aral Sea began irresistibly falling, catastrophically fast. In the Uzbek port of Muynak, for one of the nights of shallowing, the water level lowered by two hundred meters. In the morning the people ran after the sea and cried. A fishing boat, which had landed on the beach for the night, was not able to set sailing in the morning. Today the seabed has turned into a desert. On its bare bottom Boris Smerdov discovered mysterious signs. The scientist is sure – this is the message of extraterrestrial civilization to the inhabitants of the Earth.

– I’ve been studying the secret symbols of the Aral Sea for a quarter of a century. My feeling of admiration is not passing off. For me, the Aral signs do not lose their attractiveness, beauty, complexity and mystery. Strange as it may sound, but I hold a cordial affection for them as for the creatures, very close and rich in their essence.

The cupboards, beneath the bed, the balcony of the one-room apartment of the scientist are full of hundreds of folders, drawings, letters, diagrams, photographs, and pictures. In the refrigerator, under carrots and potatoes there are samples of soils from the mysterious furrows of the Aral Sea. Boris Smerdov is sure that these furrows are of nonearthy origin. “What an amazing fact! My wealth! I have been sitting with this wealth for more than 25 years, not knowing what to do with it. Making analysis of the samples is too expensive for me”.

In 1987, the Aral Sea was divided into the Great and Small Seas – the Southern and Northern Aral, forming a narrow channel between them.In an effort to save the water, at least in the Small Sea, in 1992, on the isthmus between the North and South Aral, a dam was built. It was built by local forces and at their own cost and expense from reels of cane, stones, sand and clay using technologies of the Stone Age. The sand dam was washed away.   Three times a dam between the Small and Great Seas was erected by “rule of thumb”, and three times was washed away.In 1999 a mighty stream washed the dam between the Great and Small Seas away ones again. Water washed away not only the dam but also the lower part of the Aral signs. During the Kokaral dam construction in the Small Sea heavy trucks erased the remaining part of the signs. The secret signs have gone before they had a chance of being widely interested in and studied. Information about the Aral signs is recorded on the aerial photos which Boris Smerdov stores carefully.

Slides of the 1910-2010’s, showing the level of seasonal and perennial fluctuations of the Aral Sea. In 1963, Boris Smerdov graduated from Tomsk State University, specializing in Land Hydrology. He was doing postgraduate studies in Hydrology at Krasnodar Agricultural Institute. In 1980 he joined Kazakh   Research Hydrometeorological Institute in Alma-Ata. The young scientist monitored the Aral Sea level in different parts of it. He compiled graphs, studying the sea regime using them, and investigating its trends. – I saw the Aral Sea level steadily falling since 1961. But there was no any serious concern about it. I thought it was one of the temporary fluctuations. The sea water level was changing regularly. Furthermore, the Aral sea level had shallowed before, moreover, it was a dry land. The Aral Sea emerged about 10,000 years ago, when the Amu Darya River, which until then had run into the Caspian Sea, turned north and began filling with water a tectonic depression – a large southern part of the future Aral Sea. Before, only the Syr Darya flowed into this depression, feeding a relatively small pond. According to some scientists, the Amu Darya turned several times toward the Caspian Sea, according to others, the river turned away from the Aral only once. And at that time, the Aral Sea began shallowing. In 2001, on the dry bottom of the Aral, the inhabitants of the village of Karateren, and then archaeologists, discovered an ancient settlement and a large mausoleum. Then people joked that the Kazakhs had found the Aral Atlantis. The artifacts confirmed that there existed a town on the bottom of the Aral Sea: its townsfolk built houses, erected mausoleums, and engaged in agriculture. The sea was a dry land at that time, but the water came back. About 150 years ago, “water lavishly flooded the land” more than ever. The Aral made the top four lakes on the planet. Our fathers and grandfathers remembered the Aral as blue and full of fish.

Photo from the Boris Smerdov’s archive. Two “Rockets” under the water. The length of each is 600 m.

Photo from the Boris Smerdov’s archive. «Car entry and a snake», aerial photo 1990. -This shot I called «Car entry and a snake». It is the most exciting for me. Width of wheel track of so called “car” which entered by the steep slope is 250 meters, while “wheel” width is 50 meters. From the left top corner of the picture a “snake” is going down and her head almost touches the wheel track. Using 100-200 times magnification “scales” of the “snake” are clearly seen. The “scales” look like cells and require further investigation. No earth technique is able to draw such huge and smooth furrows on the seabed. I calculated that the drawing of these Aral signs will require a continuous operation of 90,000 twenty-ton vehicles for 25 years. – I consulted and shared my findings with geologists, geophysicists, geographers, astronomers, ufologists, mathematicians, designers, including in the field of underwater military technology – with anyone who could show interest in the Aral signs. All scientists shrugged shoulders and took me for an eccentric. I had to continue the study alone, relying only on wife’s and children’s support.

Boris Smerdov unpacks a film from year 1990 expedition. Aral is everywhere in one-room apartment of the scientist. Folders with drawings and formulas, letters, maps, tens of films – all what have collected for 25 years of communication with Aral. Scientist carefully store every sheet of paper, every record.

Boris Smerdov is looking at film from year 1989 expedition.

Helicopter MI 8. In 1989 году five employees of the Kazakh Scientific and Research Hydrometeorological Institute, flew to the Aral Sea for sand samples.

A stone sample from the southern part of the Kokaral Peninsula. Boris Smerdov have been studying Aral for a quarter of century. He visited it’s shores many times. The scientist returns from the sea laden with stones – he got a full backpack. Smerdov was especially impressed by this stone with innumerable inclusions of shells.

Aluminum sample boxes for soil samples. Inside – soil samples from the Aral signs. The sample boxes are numbered, sealed with adhesive tape. Information about the samples is written in the scientist’s notebook. – In 1996, our guide Margulan Zheksembiev found two furrows on the eastern dried sea coast – two Aral Traces, – says Boris Afanasyevich. – Margulan is a resident of aul Karateren, an observer of a hydrological post on the Syr Darya River, one of the best connoisseurs of his land, a guide to several foreign expeditions in the Aral Sea region, a longtime friend of mine and a participant in the work in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya. He was in the know about the Aral signs and was very interested in their search and study. I made a cross-section of a furrow and brought samples of soil and algae to Almaty. For 20 years the land from the Aral Sea was stored in a refrigerator, tightly packed in sample bottles. I never opened them. So I do not know in what condition they are, especially the algae. I do not open them, I’m afraid to break something important. I did not send them to the laboratory, because I did not have enough money.

Boris Smerdov is looking into binocular which shows azimuth. The scientist from Almaty was offered to write a book about the Aral signs. The French Data Bank of Abnormal Phenomena got interested in the strange lines on the Aral bottom. The French offered to send their employee to conduct joint research, and Boris Smerdov was required to cover the cost of his stay in Kazakhstan and travel to the Aral Sea. An ordinary scientist could not afford it because of high costs. – Traces of the Aral Sea do not let me go. The Aral furrows were drawn under a 15-m water column at a time when the sea was deep. Who covered the seabed with lines and why? I have more questions than answers.

The scheme of Boris Smerdov’s life. The scientist drew 30 variants of the schemes of his life, each time remembering and adding new events.
– “Before meeting the Aral signs, I was an atheist, and when I was looking into the secret of the Aral Sea, I became a fatalist”, the scientist admits. “I’m sure everything in life is not incidental”. Only by a lucky chance the Aral signs were covered by aerial survey. By chance, when choosing a profession, I entered hydrology faculty, although all my life I am in awe of radio engineering and optics. All events in life are naturally determined. To make sure of this, I made a scheme of my life. Using different colors and forms I marked transitional moments, studies, research work, intentions, deadly dangerous moments … This is the moment when my father took away my grenade; that, when the lightning struck me; and these are Krasnoyarsk poles where I was about to fall … I drew more than 30 variants of my life schemes, every time remembering and adding new events. I included less than 100 elements in the first scheme, in the last one, more than 400. The scheme of my life is similar to the scheme of a complex electronic device with several functional blocks. And at its output there are events related to the discovery and decoding of the Aral signs.

More Stories

Boxing; Muay Thai kids by Alain Schroeder

Boxing; Muay Thai kids by Alain Schroeder

Muay Thai kids project was selected and published in our print edition 19. Far from Thailand’s iconic tourist destinations, Isaan, the kingdom’s largest region, reaches north and east to the borders of Laos and Cambodia.
Spirit of India by Jacque Rupp

Spirit of India by Jacque Rupp

India has always held a special place in my heart. My first visit was during an extremely difficult period in my life, as my husband had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
Fotopoesie: The backstage story of a photo book

Fotopoesie: The backstage story of a photo book

An image only makes sense if it "sees the light" and if it is seen by someone. Otherwise it would be just a visual thought. In my opinion, the best way to bring an image to life is through a book.

Call For Entries

We are looking for 6 fantastic photographers
who want to give an incredible impulse to their career.

We are going to put your photographs in front of the eyes of the directors
of the best galleries, festivals and agencies around the world.
Are you coming with us?

DEADLINE | TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022

PHOTO BY © JULIA FULLERTON-BATTEN
Nude Portraits by Martin Zurmühle

Nude Portraits by Martin Zurmühle

My specialty in nude photography is landscape nudes in beautiful locations. In the last year, however, I have also frequently created nude portraits with my models in my photo studio.
A virtual summer by Thomas H.P. Jerusalem

A virtual summer by Thomas H.P. Jerusalem

A Virtual Summer project was selected and published in our print edition 19. A story about a girl being stuck at home pretending to be on the beach.
Death is a teacher by Srideep Banerjee

Death is a teacher by Srideep Banerjee

It was around 1'O clock when grief crept in with the chilly winds of the Ganges caressing my face. Witnessing death of a near relative isn't always easy to handle.

Featured Stories

Being a child in a mundari camp by Elena Molina

Being a child in a mundari camp by Elena Molina

This project was selected and published in our print edition 19. Being a child in a Mundari camp is synonymous with working tirelessly from dawn to dusk. From their earliest age, they actively participate in the care of their livestock
Magical macro world by Georgi Georgiev

Magical macro world by Georgi Georgiev

I love street and travel photography but my big passion is macro photography. I am spending all the time i have in nature, capturing the amazing macro world.
Selfhood by Vicky Martin

Selfhood by Vicky Martin

The series "Selfhood" was in part inspired by the proverb "The Eyes Are The Window To The Soul" and a desire to challenge the need to see the eyes within a portrait.
Self-portraiture; Made in the shade by Chloe Meynier

Self-portraiture; Made in the shade by Chloe Meynier

Made in the shade project was selected and published in our print edition 18. Through a mise-en-scene self-portraiture series, Made in the Shade depicts characters in Mid Century Modern settings, mirroring an era that was aspiring for change.
Grey Matter(s) by Tom Jacobi

Grey Matter(s) by Tom Jacobi

For two years Tom Jacobi travelled to six continents, searching for archaic landscapes - mystical places that had been shaped over thousands of years by nature, yet they seem timeless, even modern.
Fetish Ballad by MagLau

Fetish Ballad by MagLau

MagLau has just released his new book Fetish Ballad with German publisher Verlag Kettler. It is the result of a three years' road trip into the underground world of Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and Berlin.
https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Mono-banner.jpg

We invite you to participate in the first edition of the Monochromatic Awards. We are eager to see photograhs with new focus points and innovative approaches

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BAnImage.jpg

ImageRights provides intelligent image search and copyright enforcement services to photo agencies and professional photographers worldwide.

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/banner.jpg

The book where words and images meet to never leave each other, The book contains 20 evocative paintings; each of them is a double page. 56 printed pages | 235x165mm

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/call21.jpg

Call For Entries #21 | After 20 editions and more than 100 published photographers, our print edition has proven to be a simply effective promotional channel.

Jennifer Massaux : The feminine eye

Jennifer Massaux : The feminine eye

Upon viewing her work, Jennifer Massaux might seem to some, a comfortable veteran… But once taking into account that she’s only been behind the camera for just under a year and a half, the enormity of her talent quickly becomes apparent.
Wildwood; Out of season by Mark Havens

Wildwood; Out of season by Mark Havens

Wildwood is a small barrier island at the tip of southern New Jersey. Through an improbable combination of economics, geography and chance, it harbors an architectural treasure: the highest concentration of mid-century modern motels in the United States.
Urban sprawl, emptiness by Emmanuel Monzon

Urban sprawl, emptiness by Emmanuel Monzon

This project was selected and published in our print edition 19. Deserts of the American West and their poetic and chaotic processions of motorway interchanges, cities without centers, residential zones without inhabitants.
Gabriel Isak ; Experiences of the soul

Gabriel Isak ; Experiences of the soul

His imagery entails surreal and melancholic scenes inspired by the inner world of dreams and psychology, where he invites the viewer to interact with the internal world of solitary figures
Terri Gold ; Poetic infrared imagery

Terri Gold ; Poetic infrared imagery

Terri Gold is an award-winning photographer known for her poetic infrared imagery of people from the remote corners of the world. She is a storyteller who is happiest when she is in a world that is unknown to her.
Lov’yer by Marta Kochanek

Lov’yer by Marta Kochanek

The world witnesses love between people of all nationalities and races. This planet gives room to those attracted to people of the same, opposite and both genders. It is how this world is constructed. It is how it always was.

Monochromatic Awards

We invite you to participate in the first edition
of the monochromatic awards. We are looking
for the best monochrome picture for this year, 2022.

The contest is open to any interpretation of monochromatic photography,
black and white, grayscale, sepia or any type of tone.

DEADLINE | THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2022

PHOTO BY © SVETLIN YOSIFOV

Trending Stories

The White City by Angie McMonigal

The White City by Angie McMonigal

The city can be beautiful. The city can be ghastly. In this series, inspired by Erik Larson's bestselling historical book, The Devil in the White City, McMonigal examines the urban environment as a physical manifestation of human intentions, both the good and the evil.
Still life Part XI by Stefania Piccioni

Still life Part XI by Stefania Piccioni

Still life can be a portal to a personal kind of history. In some ways it’s very intimate: the objects chosen by the Photographer  reveal what they consider to be either of social or cultural importance, or of personal value to them.
A journey through an ancient saga by Balarka Brahma

A journey through an ancient saga by Balarka Brahma

A city with rich history is still standing tall in modern India. A city, which is considered much older than history itself with ancient river ghats, narrow alleys, classical art and music, is a perfect symbolization of India’s rich culture.
Neo-Burlesque by Leland Bobbé

Neo-Burlesque by Leland Bobbé

The power of neo-burlesque is rooted in the charisma the performer exerts over the audience. On stage, the artist controls the illusion of what is and is not revealed.
The departed by Zhou Yulong

The departed by Zhou Yulong

When my grandfather passed away that year, I stood beside him. The weeping people had gone, and there were only the two of us. He lay there as if he were asleep, and I stood in a trance in a dream.
Minimalistic Food Portraiture by Foodism360

Minimalistic Food Portraiture by Foodism360

I like to zoom in on the extraordinary of the ordinary. The ordinary are often overlooked, forgotten, neglected, undervalued or simply thrown away, yet to me the ordinary are all special and unique.
Growing in Darkness by Mário Macilau

Growing in Darkness by Mário Macilau

Mário Macilau is a photographer who works with “the ghosts of society” – socially isolated groups and subcultures – activating subjects and their stories though his psychologically sensitive yet loaded photographic lens.
Sven Eisenhut director of Photo Basel

Sven Eisenhut director of Photo Basel

Photo Basel is Switzerland’s first and only international art fair dedicated to photography based art. Photo Basel brings together galleries from around the world in a unique, authentic setting.
New House by Wilfred Lim

New House by Wilfred Lim

Wilfred Lim lived and grew up in a small fishing village at the seaside in Pengerang, Southern Malaysia for 18 years before pursuing education in Singapore.

Other Stories

stay in touch
Join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date with all the latest stories, opportunities, calls and more.
We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use
We’d love to
Thank you for subscribing!
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted.
- Between 10/30 images of your best images, in case your project contains a greater number of images which are part of the same indivisible body of work will also be accepted. You must send the images in jpg format to 1200px and 72dpi and quality 9. (No borders or watermarks)
- A short biography along with your photograph. (It must be written in the third person)
- Title and full text of the project with a minimum length of 300 words. (Texts with lesser number of words will not be accepted)
This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Contact
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact contact@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted. This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation.
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Get in Touch
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact hello@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.