Images weigh ideas of reality and fictionThe photographs of Kim Dong-wook and Park Hong-soon explore a sense of place and dislocation. They complicate the viewer’s perceptions by creating an illusion that deliberately challenges the ideas of reality and fiction.
In “Picture Postcard” by Kim, the artist presents a photographic series of miniature theme parks that mimic historical relics, notable monuments and cultural landmarks in cities around the world. You see an image of an Eiffel Tower or Sphinx in the suburbs of Seoul; a Statue of Liberty at a theme park in Shenzhen, China.
But instead of presenting the images in the clear form of idealized souvenir postcards, Kim blurs the focus of his camera to obscure the original content, making it hard for viewers to tell if they are real or fake.
The photographs of Park Hong-soon, taken with a pinhole camera, pose a similar line in blurring the lines of reality and fiction.
In his “Dream Palace,” Park captures nocturnal images of cafes, motels and wedding halls near suburbs of Seoul that fulfill utopian ideas of romance and desire among couples. He documents various outlets that mimic classic forms of western architecture, often named after random cities around the world that have romantic nuances, like “Naples” or “Venice.”
He takes detailed shots of these photos, obscuring them into images that extract regional specificity.
Both works challenge the principles of documentary photography to question various conditions that shift the context of an image.
It’s an irony that Kim and Park are both photojournalists who work in public media. By turning artificial urban landscapes into illusory images, the works illustrate the extent of mechanical distortion of a camera and the urban reality, which increasingly loses a sense of regional identity in the process of tourist commercialism.
In a sense, the works are a sad portrait of our reality caught in our boundless desire for utopia.
by Park Soo-mee
Photos by Kim Dong-wook and Park Hong-soon will be on display at Gallery Ssamziegil through August 7th. Admission is free. To get to the Ssamziegil building, take exit 6 at Anguk station on line No. 3 and walk toward Jongno. The gallery is across from the Insa Art Center. For more information, call (02) 736-0088.