Gwangju Blog

A helping hand

A Helping Hand


This double-exposed photo was taken in downtown Gwangju two months ago. At that time, the leaves still clung to the trees which lines the downtown drag. The first frost had just hit, with the brisk afternoon wind bringing hints of more to come. Around downtown, Christmas lights were up, and despite the new-found chill, folks encountered the camera with a surprising degree of tolerance.

This photo shows two images, a multiple-exposure done on my ageless Nikon FE2. The first can clearly be seen in the dark silhouette of the metal man in the center of the frame. Contrasted against the white buildings behind, he reaches towards the camera with hand set to grab this voyeuristic device. However, he remains frozen in his stance of unfulfilled desire.

The second overlapping image was taken just several meters away along a guardrail. Its outstretched hands also feature predominately against the falling leaves above. However, this image contains a contrasting tone in both emotion and light. For while they highlight themselves against the man’s face, their featureless curves seem both inoffensive and otherworldly. As such, they seem to come from a different plane, one alien to the troubles felt in the first image. They are aptly suited to give this man what he desires most; a hand in need.

Finding both of these images within such close proximity to each other may speak to the subtle ways in which the static forms and faces we encounter throughout our daily lives may form their own relational narratives if just given the chance. The visual culture in Gwangju is ripe with such poetic contradictions if only we are warm, and slow enough, to look.

Here’s to what awaits our discovery in the year ahead!

[Image taken using a Nikon FE2 with a 35mm f1.4 shooting Kodak T-max 100. All multiple exposures were done in camera without post-processing.]

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)