Often photographs are best when hinting at something not shown within the frame. In order to do this, they beckon our eyes to move beyond what can easily be seen. When doing so, backgrounds, and overlooked edges become more important; a subject in and of themselves. The image above adheres to such a design. While simple in composition, it can hint at changes on the horizon.
It was two weeks ago already when this photo was taken. Just after the annual 70/80 fest, the downtown area still showed remnants of several long, inebriated nights of revelry. Small gift bags and confetti mixed with yellow leaves in drain corners. Patches of teal duct-tape, recently used to sustain adverts, ropes, or other barriers were omnipresent on benches, street signs, and railings in front of the Asia Cultural Center (ACC). Within the rectangular, upward-sloping park atop the southern edge of the ACC complex, another remnant could be seen. This one also hinted at a visual-cultural ecosystem which until recently, had bloomed nearly as bright as the festival nearby. Among a flowerbed of drying daisy stems, only one still possessed its petals. Curved into narrowing tubes, the dark yellow prongs extended into the sky like pointing fingers.
On this day, the sky was white. No detail could be seen in the clouds which blanketed the view above. It felt surprisingly like winter, therefore rendering this single daisy out-of-place amid the rest of the park.
When looking at this image, we may just be able to feel that subtle sense of displacement. The finger-like petals point to the mass of off-white which highlights the background. Only a small portion of the flower is in focus, the tip of its front-most petal. However, the slowly blurring background draws our eyes back towards the petals which arch upwards towards that unforgiving mass of white. It senses the winter on the way.
Not unlike the stems and human-made remnants nearby, it knows that the power it will soon possess rests as a symbol of what once was. It therefore relied on eyes to see it, to give it meaning, and to situate it within the ecological and human visual culture of downtown Gwangju. However, when returning a few days later, the petals were gone, and I was unable to distinguish which stem I had photographed several days earlier. Nevertheless, I value this temporary symbol of transition, pointing the way for times to come.
[Image taken using my Hasselblad 503cxi with an 80mm f2.8 lens and a 50mm extension tube, shooting Kodak Ektar 100.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)