Gwangju Blog

Move Along.

Moving Along.

 

The photo submission for this week in mid-June comes to us from south of Gwangju. As the hills roll out of Nam-gu, past Innocity and onwards through Naju, they slowly give way to vertile farming areas around Hwasun. Marked by low ridges with rolling hills between, this area makes for several days well spent in search of new imagery. The other week, I found myself in this area after weekday rains graced this part of the peninsula. The grasses, weeds, and the odd wildflower greeted me with vibrant greens, and an air heavy with pollinated goodness.

Scattered in and amongst the rice paddies which dominate this area sits the occasional animal farm. At this particular spot, I found several small cow farms nestled in adjacent succession at the end of a dead-end downhill road. As you can see represented towards the top of the image above, the barns were surrounded by fruit trees amid a larger expanse of long grasses. An interesting composition presented itself as large swathes of recently cut grasses lay in highlighted horizontal strips across the hillside. It took just a minute to exit my car, take a light reading, and find my preferred framing for the scene above. However, my finger paused gently on the shutter button. Something was not quite right. Perhaps it was the lack of contrast in the foreground grass which I knew might still show on the negative even after pushing this Kodak T-max one stop past it’s 400iso rating. Or, my reluctance could have resulted from a secret desire to see some action somewhere in the frame. The bottom third of the frame, for example, just craved action.

Situated below the farm at the road’s end, my ears heard a sound which I could yet see. A low humming to my left quickly crescendoed into a rattletrap roar of sorts as overweight tractor with steaming guts slowly came into view. I looked quickly off-camera to find that this beast granted me only several seconds to either capture my preconceived image, or to go with this evolving image-in-the-making. I chose the latter. Above is the image which resulted from brief, decisive moment. A mechanical arm juts out into the scene from the left of the image. Given its surroundings, it is both alien and familiar. Its’ metallic, shadowy texture seems at home with the background barn. Yet it also seems utterly out of place amid the organic lines dominating the rest of the frame. That being said, it provides a convenient focal point for our eyes. As it bisects the highlighted and mid-toned regions of the frame, it also opens its mechanical hand facing rightward. As if to say “nothing to see here, move along….move along”, it therefore gently pushes our eye back towards the center of the frame. After winding to the next frame, I lingered for several minutes before indeed moving along.

 

[Image taken with a Hasselblad 503cxi with a 180mm f3.5 telephoto lens while shooting T-max 400 pushed to 800iso.]

 

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)

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What to Do This Weekend: Trivia, The Charity Cup, and Counterparts!

Hello Gwangju!

Are you ready for the weekend? I know, silly question! Let’s see what’s happening in your town.

Thursday, June 15th

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Trivia night is on again this Thursday, and it’s always a fun way to get your weekend started! Get down to Speakeasy with your team (max. of 5 people), and make use of all that trivia filling up space in your head. The cost is only 5,000 won per team member. If you find yourself without a team, that’s not a problem because you can always find a group to play with. The second place team gets their money back, and the first place team gets the rest. There’s also free shots for a perfect round. Tonight, special guest quiz master Nate Kent will be in charge, and as always the Speakeasy staff is there to keep your glasses full. For more info, please go to the Facebook event page. Good luck!

Saturday, June 17th

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

This Saturday’s art class will start at the GIC as usual, but most of it will take place outdoors. The reason why is because they are going to have a summer photo walk. This event will be open to all levels of photographers. The class will start promptly at 12:45 will a short intro on photo composition. After that, participants will head to Mudeungsan to walk around and take some photos! Now the cost of the class is free, but you will need some bus money (or a transit card) in order to get to Mudeungsan. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. You can also get more details by going to their Facebook event page here. The photo walk will be led by guest teacher Katie Williams.

Courtesy of Gwangju Inter FC

Courtesy of Gwangju Inter FC

Gwangju organizations have held a lot of charity fundraisers, but we have a new one that is happening this Saturday- the first Gwangju Charity Cup!  Eight confirmed teams, including our own Gwangju Inter FC will be participating in a mini tournament that will take place in neighboring Naju. This is an all day event that will start at 9-and go until 6 p.m. The money raised during this event will go to support the MDream orphanage. Gwangju Inter needs its fans to come out and support them! Now you can get all the other information you need by going to the Facebook event page. It’s going to be a great day of football, and like many of the events here in the area, it’s all for a great cause. Good luck to Gwangju Inter FC this weekend, and we hope you raise a lot of money.

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

For those fans of live theater, the Gwangju Perfromance Project (GPP) brings you their summer production, Counterparts. Counterparts is made up of two, one act plays: Commencing, by Jane Sheppard, and The Dumb Waiter, by Harold Pinter. Both plays are acted and directed by local talent. Advance tickets for this weekend’s shows: June 17th 3 p.m., and 7 p.m., June 18th 3 p.m. are available until 5 p.m. June 16th. Advance tickets for next weekend’s shows, (same time) are also available as well. To make your reservations, email gpptickets@gmail.com. For more info about the performances, you can go to the GPP’s website: gwangjutheatre.com. You can also get more details by going to their Facebook event page. Support local theater by going to see Counterparts this weekend!

Sunday, June 18th

Courtesy of Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteering

Courtesy of Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteering

Want to help out at a local dog shelter, as well as get some exercise? Then you need to join up with a dedicated group of volunteers as they head to a local animal shelter. To find out more information, please go to their Facebook page.

Essentials with JD # 288 **OPPORTUNITIES WITH GFN – GWANGJU FOREIGN LANGUAGE NETWORK**

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GFN currently has two recruitment opportunities, one as a Baseball commentator (applications close tomorrow 15th June) ;  and the other in scouting talented bands to perform at the GFN Rock band concert in conjunction with the World Youth Festival which will happen on the 29th of July at the ACC downtown.

 

Firstly if you are interested in the Baseball position here are the details. The position is for about 3 months and will broadcast live from Kia Champions field.

Sports Commentator Wanted!

We are looking for a foreigner commentator for the live broadcasting of the KIA games on Gwangju Foreign-Language Network.

In order to submit your entry:

  1. Choose one of KIA’s games
  2. Record your commentary on the game’s video file
  3. Send the recording to newsmail14@gmail.com

by 15th June along with a brief written self introduction.

 

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Secondly,

 

The Live entertainment team are currently scouting the land for 6 foreign bands who will appear on stage at the World Youth Festival which will take place at the Asia culture Culture Centre on the 29th of July 2017. So if you are in a band or know of some talented bands who have foreigner members apply asap ~ once the 6 groups are scouted entries will close.


All you have to do is send us your band and member names, genre of music and any link to your music.

All performers will receive monetary compensation.

You can forward your email to gfnfestival@gmail.com

For more info on both postings please check www.gfn.or.kr or the GFN facebook page https://www.facebook.com/gfnradio/

 

JD

 

People You Should Know in Gwangju…Jack George

Hello Gwangju! Today we have another community member to meet. Although, if you’ve been to see any of the recent Gwangju Performance Project productions there is a good chance his face will already be familiar to you. Here in his own words is….

 

Jindo Sea Parting

Jindo Sea Parting

Name…Jack George

Occupation…English Teacher

Hometown…Peterborough, UK (don’t worry, no one else has heard of it either)

Length of time in Korea…Coming up to two years

My hometown is famous for…Henry VIII’s first wife is buried at the cathedral, but that might be stretching the term ‘famous’.

I wish I could…but it would only get me into trouble.

If I could have any superpower it would be…turning traffic and crossing lights green when I approach.

Top of Mudeungsan

Top of Mudeungsan

A book I read once a year is…I don’t usually read books more than once.

My nickname is…JG, for those who don’t have time for two whole-word syllables.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Mad Men, now it has come to Korean Netflix.

My favorite sport to play is…football or badminton.

The food I am best known for is…kiwis…I get told I eat them wrong.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…gone now. There was an amazing Lamb BBQ place in Pungam-dong that closed down and broke my heart.

On my days off I like to…spend Saturdays recovering and Sundays playing football.

My favorite movie is…Gattaca or Dumb & Dumber.

What is your best tip for living in Korea? Learn Korean. I’ve been here almost two years and I’ve only just recently started lessons. It has helped prevent me from walking into shops, picking something up and saying “I don’t know” rather than “How much is this?” Or at least reduced the amount of times this happens…

Damyang with Students

Damyang with Students

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Embrace the sadness. I watch Lost in Translation and eat whatever food has been sent to me from home (Chilli Heatwave Doritos).

What is the oddest job you have ever had? I briefly worked as an Extra (Background Artist, if you will), which was surreal. I sat on a London bus dressed for summer in the middle of winter and pretended to watch Usain Bolt run past for an Olympic advert. I also worked on Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’, where I was dressed for winter (skis and all) in the middle of summer and actually watched Sacha Baron Cohen shove past chasing Asa Butterfield. It’s on Netflix, skip to 1hr 52 mins to see the side of my face. My mum fell asleep at the cinema when we went to see it.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you…I once spent a year being called ‘Finn Hemmingway’ (yes, misspelt, thanks HR) at a job because there was already someone working there with a similar name. I couldn’t work out whether it was Finn who was the evil alter ego or Jack… Either way, Finn is dead and Jack is here to stay.

Midsummer Night's Dream

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? Three! At the moment I am in rehearsals for ‘The Dumb Waiter’ which is part of the GPP (Gwangju Performance Project)’s upcoming production called ‘Counterparts’. Two one-act plays both performed by casts of two. We’ve had our tech and dress June 3-4 weekend and I think the show is going to be an interesting evening, something a little different than what past productions have been like.

I had a minor role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few months after I arrived in Gwangju and have been involved with the GPP since – you may not recognise me as one of the hosts from the recent Masquerade themed Cabaret.

Caberet

Cabaret

I have also helped out with Adopt-a-Child-For-Christmas (not sure if all those hyphens are official) both Christmases I’ve been here. There is the Prom happening on June 10th that you’ll be sorry you missed. Otherwise there will be numerous events in the run up to Christmas. It culminated in me dressing up as Santa to hand out the gifts to orphanages we visited in 2015 and it was great to be a part of something that brought the foreigner and local communities together. There will always be opportunities to donate your time or money in the run up to Christmas. I also play with the foreigner football team on Sundays – Gwangju Inter FC – sponsored by Speakeasy. We recently got to the final of the (wooden spoon) Ulsan Tournament, losing 3-2 to a Vietnamese team. We’re always looking for more players and have a great mix of Koreans and foreigners from all over. There is a Facebook group if you’re interested.

 

To get tickets you can email: gpptickets@gmail.com

Counterparts is a pair of one act plays which tell the stories of two hitmen awaiting their next assignment and a blind date gone wrong.

Shows at the Gwangju Art Hall downtown
June 17th @ 3PM and 7PM, June 18th @ 3PM
Payment must be received by June 16th @ 5PM for advance ticket price.

June 24th @ 3PM and 7PM, June 25th @ 3PM
Payment must be received by June 23rd @ 5PM for advance ticket price.

TICKET PRICES: Advance, 10,000w; Door, 12,000W

Lex Asbury: Life Behind The Camera

Last February, I was walking through one of the Synergy events that is held at the GIC. The events are always a great showcase of local talent, where a combination of art from all mediums is available on display in one of two rooms. One room is more geared toward performances, such as music, poetry, monologues, and even interactive games. In the other room, attendees can feast their eyes on paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other visual artworks. I found an abundance of truly unique pieces up on the walls, and stopped to pause at this photograph of a small, translucent vase, containing a few delicate clusters of white flowers, accompanied by two loaves of bread. I’m not sure exactly why, but there was something very comforting in this photograph.

IMG_0638

I never have been around much home-cooked bread, but it felt like home. This setting that is so seemingly ordinary, exudes a crisp, clean honesty that soothes over the hectic spinning of the world for a few brief moments. The photographer is Gwangju’s own Lex Asbury. She’s always a friendly face around town, and an obvious supporter of the arts. Our battling schedules prevented us from meeting up this week to delve into her art, but we were able to correspond through a series of messages and emails that led to this interview.

JG: How did you initially get into photography?

LA: To make it simple, creativity runs in my family. My father, mother, and sisters all have creative talents in drawing, music, and craft. It was bound to also be with me as well, however, before middle school, I wanted to be an author. When I met Samantha Uphold, a close friend of my late brother’s from his high school days, I was intrigued that she was a photographer as well as an elementary teacher. I looked into her work and was mesmerized. It was then that photography as a career and investment clicked. I, then, picked up a camera and haven’t put it down since middle school.

JG: I read the biography on your website. I see you earned your Bachelor’s of Science in Photography at Indiana Wesleyan University in August 2014. Is there anything else people should know about you?

LA: There is a lot that isn’t mentioned in my biography, but some of the most important things that you should know about me are that I am a people-person, extroverted on the extreme end of the Myerrs-Briggs evaluation test, and really value connection and relationship between people. I cannot drink coffee or have chocolate, so that’s why tea’s my go to drink. I also have a deep love for cacti and succulent plants, cooking, and corgis.

JG: What are your philosophies to photography? What do you look for? What do you want to capture?

LA: It’s never simple when I ‘look’ for something. I like meaning, symbolism, and simplicity whenever I style, plan and create a piece. Just like when I look for a book to read, whatever I photograph or research needs to capture my interest. As most of my work reflects, that test to revolve around people, food, and the relationships between things, products, and possessions, and how people integrate them and other people into their lives. Now, when it comes to my commercial work, I want to photograph what I idealize, the way I see people and how I want to synthesize my taste in design and food, as well as lifestyle. With my conceptual work, however, I want to touch on relations and all the dynamics of them. The good, the bad, and the ugly, because that’s a more accurate depiction of what connections with people are. It’s never simple, easy, and ideally ‘picture-perfect.’ Relationships are messy, difficult, and always with the obstacles that come. These things should never stop us from the pursuit of connection. I want to explore why we are social beings, and what that means for my life and as well as a general reflection for others to ponder.

 

JG: In what ways has your approach to the art changed over time? Any certain phases?

LA: I don’t think that I went through any extreme phases where I changed what I wanted to photograph. I can say that when I started looking into photography I would photograph anything and everything. That’s no longer the case. As I began my education with photography and began developing myself as an artist and person, I realized that my time, thoughts, and talent are extremely valuable. I need to treat it as such, so I began to be selective and intentional with my photos. Sociology began to have a strong influence in my work, and in university, the more sociology courses I took, the more I changed my approach to why I photograph people.

JG: In the day of age where everyone has a camera on their phone and is able to Instagram their way through life, how has the art of photography changed? Has the role of professional photographers been cheapened or devalued in any way?

LA: I believe that art has been evolving right along with how technology has been advancing. I think the only thing that really gets depreciated is the idea of what separates artists from everyone else. All of these apps and easy access to programs for editing and instant results blurs the lines between those who are intentional with creating artwork and those who are utilizing what advancements have given them. There will always be other factors, like professional experience, reputation, and education that separates those groups of people. You can’t stop the way that people utilize what is offered to them. But, the message and quality of the art will always speak for itself.

JG: In relation to that question, are there certain technical aspects that average person is oblivious to? Is there an example of a photograph where a professional photographer would love it, but the average person may be unimpressed?

LA: I think the main thing that people don’t tend to understand is post-processing stage. Everything that happens after I take a photograph. I have to upload all of the photos, make a more narrow selection, then, I go through about 2 to 3 stages of editing for the images after that. Film photography is different but the editing can take just as long. It takes time to go through the rigmarole of making a final image. It’s not just clicking the shutter button and the image is completely perfect. In regards to preference between professionals and others, I believe other artists can really evaluate and see the design and techniques more closely and discuss the pieces on a more theoretical basis. People who are not experienced in art may only be able to appreciate the visual aspects of the work. It’s just a general opinion of the question.

JG: What equipment do you use? How important is equipment?

LA: I currently use a Canon 5D Mark II for all of my digital photography. I mainly use my kit 50mm because I like the sharp focus. For film, I use a Canon AE-1. Personally, equipment can only do so much without any purpose or intention from the user. You have to make the camera take the kind of photos you want to take, and use the editing programs to your own devices.

JG: I see on your website that a lot of your artwork seems to be personal (people and places from your life), how do these series come about?

LA: Most of the work on my website was either created entirely by me, or along with someone I know, whether that be family, friends, or clients. All in all, if I didn’t have any of these people encouraging, influencing, and investing in me, there would not be any of these pieces of work nor would I have pursued the craft at all. There is no one single situation, but a multitude of many encounters that have made this work more personal. Another tell-tale would be my name of my photography site. It’s my name, Lex Asbury, because this is all a reflection of who I am and what I hope to present myself as as an artist.

JG: Which ones are more candid and which ones are staged? How do you feel this affects the final result?

LA: To be honest, all of my commercial and conceptual work is staged in some way. you can’t avoid having even a little bit of staging when you have either a certain look or goal in mind when crating an image or a message. Candid work is usually easier to capture in weddings and some portraiture. There is nothing wrong between images having the ‘candid’ aspect or being staged down to the most minute detail. Photography has changed since it’s conception long ago, and it’s days of being held as absolute truth and transparent reality. We know that there is some form of editing and manipulation in a photograph from start to finish. I think that it’s up to the photographer or artist to define what their truth is and what photography means to them. For me, the camera is a tool that helps me facilitate the conversation that I have with the rest of the world about what I want my photography to say about myself and the perspective that I hold. It doesn’t change what I hope to communicate, rather, it helps me improve and enhance that thought or moment.

JG: Who are some of your favorite photographers and/or series?

LA: A really inspiring series to me is what Angelica Dass did with Pantone and portraiture in “HUMANAE”. It’s a beautiful way to incorporate the international archive of color, Pantone, and appreciation for the diversity of humanity with their skin tone. It’s such an amazing way to look at people in a positive way. I studied sociology in university as well, so this series speaks to what I believe about making connections far and wide with people.

Another person who has really influenced me has been Diane Arbus. She was a documentary photographer during the 1960s and took such poignant portraits of those who were extreme outcasts of society at the time: transvestites, dwarfs, giants, nudists, and a plethora of odd individuals. There was only black and white film photography, so people upheld the medium a little more so than they do now. It wasn’t so much the subjects that captures me, but her direct approach to them. She framed them front and center, in such a way that you couldn’t shy way from who they were. Not only was that dynamic, but she was always respectful, intentional, and always gained consent and continual approval from her subjects to use them. She never demeaned or humiliated them with her photography. I value to be able to do similar with my work in the day of extremely connected people.

JG: Goals for the future?

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Photographer, Lex Asbury

LA: Currently, my photography has been on a hiatus as work here in Korea, but I hope to pursue high education in the future. I also hope to create some more personal series that I’ve been only researching and planning at the moment. One that I can mention is a more involved food series that pays tribute to the symbolism and intentions of old Flemish and European painters of still life pieces. Those beautiful,  simple paintings held great reflection and retrospect of life and death through what seems to be rather unintentional arrangements of food, dishware, plants, and other seemingly unrelating items. I adore those paintings and want to make work just as intentional.

[End of interview]

Check out Lex’s official photography page at lexasbury.com for her entire portfolio and the most up to date information.