This week’s photo was taken at the beginning of June. The composition has been greatly simplified, offering only the narrowest of visual slices of life beyond the crack. Positioned in the photo’s center, this narrow band of light carries its weight in describing what is happening in this particular place. In it, we are given most information needed to form both a simple narrative as to what is happening. However, we are also left with just enough questions to warrant a prolonged moment with this image.
If we have spent at least one May in Jeolla-do, we have likely noticed the visual effects that the Buddha’s Birthday holiday has on the temple nearby. While being much busier than normal, we have likely noticed the colorful lanterns positioned overhead temple courtyards and lining the streets adjacent to the temple itself. Within the temple grounds, these elevated lanterns can also be appreciated for the symmetrical shadows they cast upon the ground below. At midday, the contrast between the rows of circular orbs overhead and the dark shadows beneath can join these our waking life unexpectedly with its inverse.
Through the crack in the aged temple wall, we can see a courtyard bisected by lantern-led lines. To the left, we see the silhouette of a man with arm outstretched. His finger points to something we cannot easily distinguish. It would suit our narrative for his finger to point at the lanterns above him, connecting his action with thoughts and comments similar to those mentioned previously. However, his gesture could also be one of accusation or simply directional to navigate his way to the public toilet beyond. These questions allow for a controlled moment of unknowing within an otherwise predictable scene. Such is the beauty and challenge of creating an ongoing narrative from simple slices of everyday life here in Jeolla-do.
[Image taken with my Contax T2 shooting Afga 200.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)