The doldrums, rainy days of summer, the end of the monsoons, the heat, all collude towards a slowing of life. In turn, we hominids tend to retreat into interior spaces. Not unlike the dead of winter, the ecosystem dictates our behavior if ways we may not have predicted just several weeks before. The weather is constant with its predictable summer rains and increased temperatures. However, within this predictability lays not only the realities of a warming climate, of which Gwangju and southern Jeolla Province is no exception, but rather the irrational hope that somehow this year might be different. For, when imagining the heat of August while enduring February chills, this time of year may seem not only preferable, but also not nearly as oppressive as it inevitably turns out to be. Therefore, each summer brings with it the initial joys of the suns rays, soaking into hardened skin, but also the necessary realization that we may yet again be no match for what the earth has to offer.
The photo above poignantly captures this simple act of retreat and the emotions it engenders. It is yet another rainy day, as the wetted windows clearly show. Behind their blurred panes, subtle textures of branches and leaves can be seen. Buttressed against a suburban mountain park, this scene is both indicative of Gwangju proper, but also could have been captured in countless locations on the peninsula.
These blinds half-cocked, rested haphazardly against the spines of books left unread; we have likely experienced a similar setting in our lives around Gwangju this summer. The lack of color also adds to the emotional impact of the image above. Its monochrome tones exude subtle hints of nostalgia for those times when we we thus stuck indoors with only our books and they visions they will undoubtedly implant.
At times, photos need not overwhelm the senses. In fact, as this photo shows, the opposite can often be true. Their power to underwhelm can open the looker to the more opaque, yet potentially instrumental emotions which define our experience of a particular location. It is these images which when we look at in our later years, can more sufficiently connect the emotions within our past with what we call the present. Perhaps such inner retreats are necessary to reflect on our experiences in this way. For that, this photographer gives a slight nod to the forces outside his window, all-the-while dreaming of the coolness to come.
[Image captured with a Contax T2 shooting Tri-x 400.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)