[FOUNTAIN]Moments That Heighten Emotion

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[FOUNTAIN]Moments That Heighten Emotion

We vividly remember an image that symbolizes the tragedy of the Korean War. It is a photograph of the railway bridge across the Taedong River with desperate refugees of war dotting every inch of the structure. It was taken by the Associated Press photographer Max Desfor, and this photograph taken on Dec. 5, 1950, and transmitted around the world under the title "The Korean Bridge" won him the Pulitzer Prize for news photography the next year.

The collective memory of modern times is unfortunately filled with images of war and violence. The entire Vietnam War as we know it proliferated with images of brutality. There was the 1968 photograph of a police officer pulling the trigger and aiming a bullet into the head of a Viet Cong soldier. Then there was the 1972 picture of a Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, running down a road naked and burned by napalm.

The world woke up to the front page picture of 10 or so people after the terrorist attacks making their way amid debris near the World Trade Center in New York, covered in dust and ash. The photograph, by the AP's Gulnara Samoilova, succeeds in distinguishing itself from the ordinary news photography in its stationary reality. If the videos of airplanes crashing into the towers depicted the surreal and shocking images in the raw, the photo, taken some time after the actual attacks, leaves with it a kind of shudder that lingers. The white dust as it completely covers the people and their expression of total disbelief serve as witness to an apocalyptic moment of our time.

In that sense, the photograph reminds us of W. Eugene Smith. Mr. Smith is known as a master of documentary photography that refuses to remain a record of what lies on the surface but draws out the inner cries that are captured in each image. A style of photography that captures a precise instant, such as the 1936 photo by Robert Capa of the Spanish Loyalist soldier at the moment of being shot, would seem insufficient to tell the story of a tragedy in our age when access to video images is widespread. It seems there must be something more than the simple capture of an instant to have an effect.

That sensibility is behind the methodology of the modern sculptor George Segal. It was all too apparent in the Seoul showing of Segal's work in 1995 that he does not try to capture "the great moment" as all the previous works of sculpture did. His is an attempt to elevate the sense of reality through the more mundane moments of life. In an age full of shocking imagery, art tries to heighten the sense of emotion through different techniques. Although we hardly need any more images of heightened emotion.

The writer is editor of the JoongAng Ilbo publications.

by Cho Woo-suk

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