For this week’s entry to the photography blog, I have decided to submit an image which is both relevant to life in Jeolla-do (province), but also to this writer’s personal artistic pursuits. To be transparent, this image is part of an exhibition which I will be having as part of the Cheongju Artist Residency Program. The exhibition opens this coming Friday, March 3rd and will be open through the 16th. It consists of family and personal photos which I have recovered from abandoned buildings or old film cameras bought from junkyards. The images are then, for lack of a better word, framed in certain ways to create differing emotions about these anonymous figures. Perhaps the brochure put it best:
This exhibition, titled ‘Frame’ focuses on methods of displaying societies’ discarded personal photos to connect with individuals and a society I will never fully know. Images were picked up from the street or abandoned homes, or bought from junkyards while still in their digital or film cameras. The photos are provided differing contexts. Many are documentary, displayed next to an image of where they were found. Others are shown with a context imagined from the emotions the photos provide. Some are even mixed with other images, texts, or objects found nearby, thereby confronting traditional visual narratives about what the role and function of the “frame”. Certain frames seem more important than what they themselves contain, while other images seem lost without the subtle meaning-making a frame provides. As a result, the frame can be seen not only as physical object, but also as psychological process, a framing of mind about the people and locations which surround us. These images reveal the boundaries of emotional connection and meaning-making to each other. However, they also promote an experience of empathetic not-knowing. As such, they serve as an extension of the artists own desire to live within a new culture; subtly framing small pieces of others as they pass by.
The process of collecting these images has been slow. Often, I did not find any images for months and then by chance might come across a dozen images in a week. However, patience seems to have been rewarded. The past three years of hunting primarily in Jeolla-do have lent me around 100 images. It is an interesting experience noting what is left behind, and begs the question of when a home becomes a house. Living as an ethnic and cultural outsider within this society has lent me to question how an experience of ‘home’ is created, and where the limits lay between personal and public identities. From all of the countries I have lived, I personally find the role of the visual to be exceedingly fragile yet curiously of the utmost important within this culture. As such, living within it has not only buoyed my own self-inquiry and artistic pursuits, but also the topics contained within this photography blog. In fact, if any readers out there would like to share their experiences and/or participate in future photographic projects on this theme, please contact me at:
Or for a peak of similarly found images, please check:
Until next week, I’m all eyes.
[Photo taken of a found object within the location where it was found using a Nikon d600 and a 25-85vr f3.5-4.5 lens.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)