Gwangju Blog

January Streets




January Streets




This month’s installment of local street photography offers a slightly different perspective from the norm. For, while each month, an image has been devoted to locals doing what they do, in public, for the lens, and perhaps a larger audience to see, this month’s photo seeks to subvert the norm. Instead of figures likely hustling this way or that, bound up in the moment to be somewhere they’re not, we instead find the image above.

In this photo, we see the simple remnants of an experience we can assume took place. Instead of seeing the folks themselves, the door to the right serves to remind us of their lingering presence within an otherwise empty and uniform space. Familiar to most middle school to university-aged kids, these coin singing rooms have reemerged as a popular go-to spot for a kid with a cheon-won bill just burning a hole in his or her pocket. While before only seen in twos or threes, these booths now occupy whole floors of otherwise defunct office spaces, movie theatres or shopping malls. Walking down the narrow corridor between them can offer up a unique cacophony of sounds. For their social function depends more-so on the cathartic belting out of ballads, r&b, or the occasional hair-rock anthem than they do any significant measure of noise reduction.

For once, it seems that sound, or lack thereof determines what human presence lays within this street photograph. I for one, am glad to find such an image. For, when photographing on these local streets, we would do ourselves a disservice to dismiss the impact of sound for navigating our city. Therefore, images like the one above will hint both at what we loath, and what we will miss about Gwangju when it is no longer visible.


[Image taken using a Nikon FE2 with a 50mm f1.4 lens, shooting Ilford Delta 3200.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)