Viewing the world through photos : Kim Gyeong-sik shares the unique way he sees the world at new exhibit

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Viewing the world through photos : Kim Gyeong-sik shares the unique way he sees the world at new exhibit

테스트

Photographer Kim Gyeong-sik holds his prized digital camera next to his flower photos, which are on display at his exhibition. [JOONGANG ILBO]

“How do I take photos if I can’t see?” asked the visually impaired photographer Kim Gyeong-sik. “Touching and smelling is also the same as seeing.”

The photographer, 55, explained his process during an interview while walking through his photography exhibition held at the Another Way of Seeing Gallery at Jongno District, central Seoul on Nov. 29. Kim has lived most of his life without his sight since becoming blind at the age of 13 due to congenital glaucoma. This was the opening day of his very first exhibition as a photographer, titled “Light Felt with the Back of One’s Hand, World Drawn through Shadows.”

The non-profit organization Another Way of Seeing, which hosts the exhibition, has been involved with promoting the arts for the visually impaired since 1996. Through their project “The Road Not Taken” which seeks to support blind photographers, Kim was selected as the first to be hosted at the gallery. The photographer displays 50 of his best photos at the exhibition, which was a long, four year process before he felt was ready to exhibit. “I’m excited, yet also frightened at the thought of what people will think of my photos.”

During the interview, Kim was carrying with him a small digital camera. He explained that this camera was his greatest treasure since he received it as a gift in 2009.

테스트

Kim utilizes his senses to paint a picture in his mind before clicking the shutter. [JOONGANG ILBO]

“When I first heard about photography lessons being offered to the visually impaired at Sangmyung University, I visited with a bit of skepticism,” said the photographer. “I remember at the time, I was only able to click the shutter button the way the volunteer taught me.”

Kim started walking down the path of being a photographer since he became involved with “The Road Not Taken” project in 2012. While working full-time as an instructor for a massage training center in Incheon, Kim spent his weekends taking thousands of pictures. Among the models that would star in his photos would be flowers and foxtails blossoming in his local flower beds, and even his guide dog, who follows the photographer all day.

Although Kim’s cannot see, the photographer has trained his sense of hearing, smelling, and touching to make up for it.

“For a long time, I would sit in the grass, touching and smelling, while also listening to the blowing wind… A picture would form in my mind after utilizing my senses, and that is when I clicked the shutter.”

This is also related to the reason why the majority of Kim’s photos are close-ups. The photographer utilizes sunlight as a helpful tool.

“I would get a sense of direction of the sunlight by feeling the heat on the back of my hand, and imagined the sky as a blank canvas, drawing a picture as I took photos,” Kim explained.

Photographer Park Byeong-hyeok, who has acted as a mentor to Kim for three years, admitted he was initially skeptical.

“After seeing the way he would translate the images in his mind to photography and improving by trial and error, I felt that he had more than enough potential to become a photographer,” said Park.

Kim faced many difficulties, including the reluctance of people who could not accept that photos could be taken by blind photographers, which was among the hardest to overcome.

“I recall a day when I went into a grass field to take photos, but was promptly stopped by an older gentleman who said it was too dangerous,” explained Kim. “When I told him I was heading in to take photos, the man laughed while turning away.”

Kim said, “I wanted to change photography from an art of vision to an art of the senses and facing challenges. I hope people stop clinging to stereotypes and start exploring new ideas.”

The photographer plans on donating all proceeds from his exhibition, which will remain open until the Dec. 15, to support the arts for the visually impaired.

“Instead of being criticized relative for being a visually impaired individual, my dream is to be regarded as a true photographer,” he said.

“I hope to take photos that can heal away the people’s pain.”

BY CHUN KWON-PIL [chung.jinhong@joongang.co.kr]

만져보고 맡아보고 마음으로 찍는 사진작가

시각장애 김경식씨 첫 개인 사진전
7년 전 입문 때 받은 디카 보물 1호 손등에 와닿는 온기로 빛 방향 잡아 아픔 보듬는 따뜻한 사진 찍을 것
“안 보이는데 어떻게 사진을 찍느냐고요? 만져보고, 맡아보는 것도 ‘본다’는 거잖아 요.”  지난달 29일 서울 종로구 우리들의 눈 갤 러리. 김경식(55)씨는 전시된 사진들을 둘러 보며 말했다. 그는 선천성 녹내장으로 13살 때부터 완전히 시력을 잃고 살아온 시각장 애인이다. 이날은 그가 사진작가로서 첫 번 째 개인전인 ‘손등으로 느낀 빛, 그림자로 그 린 세상’을 여는 날이다. 전시를 개최한 건 1996년부터 맹학교에 서 재능기부를 통해 예술을 가르치는 비영 리단체 ‘우리들의 눈’이다. 이 단체는 작가 를 꿈꾸는 시각장애인을 지원하는 ‘가지 않 는 길’ 프로젝트의 첫 번째 주인공으로 김씨 를 선택했다. 갤러리엔 그가 직접 찍은 사진 50여 점이 전시돼 있다. 4년간의 준비 끝에 마침내 데뷔 무대에 오른 그는 “설레면서도 내 사진을 보고 사람들이 어떤 얘기를 할까 두렵기도 하다”고 했다.  김씨는 작은 디지털 카메라를 들고 있었 다. 2009년 사진을 처음 배울 때 선물 받아 지금까지 쓰고 있는 그의 보물 1호다. “상명 대에서 시각장애인을 대상으로 사진 교실을 연다는 소식을 듣고 설마 하는 마음으로 찾 아갔어요. 그때만 해도 자원봉사자가 가르 쳐주는 대로 셔터만 누르는 수준이었죠.”  김씨는 2012년 ‘가지 않는 길’ 프로젝트 에 참여하면서 본격적으로 사진작가의 길 을 걷기 시작했다. 인천안마수련원에서 교 사로 일하며 출•퇴근길과 주말을 이용해 매 달 수천 장의 사진을 찍었다. 동네 화단에 핀 꽃과 강아지풀, 24시간 그를 따라다니는 안내견 풍요가 모델이 됐다. 앞을 못 보는 대신 청각•후각•촉각 등 모 든 감각을 곤두세웠다. “한참 동안 앉아 풀 을 만지면서 냄새도 맡아보고, 바람에 흔들 리는 소리도 듣고…. 그렇게 모든 감각을 동 원해 마음속에 하나의 이미지를 그리고 셔 터를 눌렀죠.” 대부분의 사진이 접사(근접 촬영)로 찍힌 것도 그런 이유다. 그는 항상 햇빛을 바라보며 사진을 찍는다. “손등에 느껴지는 온기로 빛의 방향을 잡고, 하늘을 도화지 삼아 그림을 그려가듯 찍었어요.” 3년째 그의 멘토 역할을 맡고 있는 박병 혁 사진작가는 “처음에는 ‘될까?’라는 의문 이 들었지만, 시행착오를 거치며 머릿속에 그린 이미지를 점점 사진으로 구현해 가는 모습을 보고 사진작가로서 충분한 가능성 을 봤다”고 했다.  난관도 많았다. 무엇보다 시각장애인은 사진을 찍을 수 없다는 사람들의 시선을 극 복하기가 쉽지 않았다. “하루는 사진을 찍으 려 풀밭으로 들어가는데 한 어르신이 위험 하다며 말리기에 제가 사진을 찍을 거라 말 했더니 황당하다는 듯 웃고 가시더라고요.” 그는 “시각의 예술로 불리는 사진을 감각의 예술, 도전의 예술로 바꾸고 싶었다”며 “사 람들이 고정관념에 머물지 말고 새로운 도 전을 했으면 좋겠다”고 말했다.  김씨는 15일까지 열리는 사진전의 모든 수익을 시각장애인의 예술활동 지원에 기부 할 예정이다. 그는 “‘시각장애인치고 잘 찍었 네’라는 평가보다 사진작가로 인정받는 게 꿈”이라며 “앞으로도 사람들의 아픔을 보 듬는 따뜻한 사진을 찍고 싶다”고 말했다.  

천권필 기자 feeling@joongang.co.kr

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