Three Names of Photographer
- Photos of Area.Park

Park Charn-kyong

There is an interesting sentence in the photographer's note, which is put in Area.Park catalogue. "It may be because they somewhat ignored an unknown 'Jjicksae' Area.Park, not a prominent National Geography photographer like Japanese American Michael Yamashita." Park Jin Young is real name of Area Park.
   Although I don't know whether the word is currently used or not, they used to call policeman 'Jjabsae.' 'Jjabsae,' which has been circulated both in criminal and activists' field, is 'Jjabssae' when we correctly pronounce it. Through the word 'Jjabssae,' the relationship between body police and public is perfectly broke off. Meanwhile, the image of a policeman, especially of a plainclothesman is demoted as a subunit of impersonal huge organization, which is scattered in the city being a petty neuron of it, while it is also somewhat worthless and mean, and sometimes it is a friendly individual according to the situations when one hears the word. While policemen is a group and a brain, Jjabsae is an individual and hands-and-feet.
   Since the birth of photographs, the relation between Jjabsae and photographer got deeper. No, Jjabsae and photographer have natural familarity beginning from their names. To pick and to take are not different in the sense that the grasp the game. Besides, it also is when we think about forced endeavor to grasp the subject, followed by intuition and instant determination. In case of documentarian, they sometimes have to conceal their identities or habitually lie about something, which is similar with photographers. Although they cannot help but have a strong self-consciousness, they shun their activities openly, which is another similarity. While Jjabsae is supported by public power, Jjicksae must be more mean than Jjabsae on occasions. Being different from handcuffs, camera of Jjicksae cannot but be kicked if someone does. Although Jjabsae can use 200mm telephoto lens, Jjicksae cannot use physical power, handcuffs or warrents. Jjicksae must wait until situation comes, and must be swifter when it comes. There is few next chance.
   The appearance of Park Jin-young who prowls Seoul with camera is infallibly 'Jjicksae.' Not only Park Jin-young but Henri Cartier Bresson, Dian Aubus, Weegee, Nobuyoshi Araki and Nan Goldin are also historic Jjicksae, no matter how much photographers resist. 'Critical Moment' also cannot be said unless he is not a great photographer. No matter how prominent the photographer is, he is also Jjicksae at the end, when he takes photographs. In other words, they are somewhat mean beings in the sense that they have to hide behind the camera. Ethical responsibility on the subject? Uncertain. Despite they can talk artistic saying named moral integrity of photographer, in fact destiny of photographers has almost already been determined when camera was invented. So we cannot blame on photographers only. The problem is how we use well the destiny.
   It is not a type of Area.Park at all to randomly take snap photos with a small camera. Rather he worries about the price of films with his big camera put on a tripod. Seeing only this appearance, he does not seem a Jjicksae at all, but he is furnished with traditional virtues of photographer-Jjicksae, such as shrewdness to grasp and designate places, whether, and characters, or the ability to discover strange moment in normal daily life. If I have to use the poisoned word 'a born photographer,' he is such as this. For example, let's see the black-and-white photo 'Confrontation - Hooligans and Riot Police.' It took the scene where hooligans and riot police confronted at the street, showing a little unfocused signboard 'The World where We Live Together' on the background. In this photo, all the eyes of hooligans and riot policemen are towards the photographer. Here the photographer in the eyes of hooligans and Jjabsae is just a 'Jjicksae,' not a 'photographer' or 'photo-artist.'. In other words, The World where We Live Together means the world where hooligans, Jjabsae and Jjicksae live together.
   Not only hooligans and Jjabsae, but mendicant, nard, undutiful son, and delivery man are also the subjects captured only by the eyes of Jjicksae. Characters shown on Park Jin-young's first and second catalogues named "Seoul.. a Society of Gap" and "Boys in the City" respectively, are generally like these. In this series, the ordinary and natural 'Jjicksae' character of photographers gets more Korean-like code. For example, two middle school students posing in front of Olympic stadium have their arms around each other's shoulders. The students who seem smaller against a huge stadium, quickly get the name 'friendship.' Friendship here is like a story in a postcard sent to a radio station or drawing in a christmas card in '70s. It is impossible to interestingly enjoy the photo of city children, unless he has any experience or memory about school as Korean-style disciplinal institute where is brutal competition and violence rampage.

If 'Jjicksae' is harsh to the ear, there is the word 'Jjicksa.' Maybe Jicksae is more vulgar expression than Jjicksa. The image of Jjicksa is much closer to the appearance of photographer gazing at a big camera with big black screen put on him, than guerilla-like activities of Jjicksae. Seen from that, Jjicksae who grasps the exposing moment at a certain time goes well with Park Jin-young, but Park Jin-young who chooses accurate exposure and structure after slow overview goes also well with him.
   'Boys at 3-suspended Seconds' picked children who literally froze for 3 seconds in the middle of street. It can be said that authority of photographer seized not only these boys but also this scene for 3 seconds. All the other pedestrians than the children seem blurred, while the shapes of 4 children actors are sharp like manikins in the mall on the opposite side of the street. This does not mean at all that the children do not move as if they were dead like the manikin. The children is located between blurred people in the street, over-acting people in other words, and the manikin which does not move at all. This displays overall isolation of the children from their environment, but creates fervid conversation between the children and the photographer's eye at the same time, named confrontation of them. This kind of vacancy in time, suspended flow, or a kind of silence can be done only by Jjicksa who can cooly observe photographic reality in the camera coming loose from complex site, not by busy and shrewd Jjicksae.
   'A Boy's Dream' which is taken with similar way this, is more Jjicksa-like. Fully using visual structure of panorama, this photo contrasts vertical moving line of family (sculpture) playing seesaw, horizontally long frame, and vestige of walkers who move transversely. It is not easy to expose the irony fact like this, that a fixed sculpture does not move although it expresses moving, in other words, that it lies. Moreover, it is the letter 'Happy Time,' a promotion poster of a restaurant, to critically help the photographer. This photo forces linguistic interpretation such as 'This sculpture is the only one to enjoy perpetual happiness in stop motion.' Of course I agree that the alibi of the photo may prove that such situation truly exists before it is linguistically formed like that.
   It is true that Jjicksae has also an alibi, which does not reach to that of Jjicksa. For the photos of Jjicksae, we still doubt that if that 'scene' was obtained by chance. Meanwhile alibi of Jjicksa's photo is sure because it is the result of so strongly prepared willing. For example, 'The Spot of a Chairman's Suicide' looks to realize a perfect set. Having a kind of frame structure where a camera is shown in another camera, it is a 'knife-like' photo where there is no room for emotion based on the fact background the tragedy is a beautiful riverside. He consumed all the film leaving only one, actually. Area.Park said 'I am not a photographer if I miss this scene.' when he takes this photo. What would be to miss at this time? What would he miss if he miss something? In the case of this photo, I guess it is a certain scene where reality and photo become the same - 'You doubt? Look at this photo.' It would tough to lively present the fact that this unrealistic accident happens overtly, as this photo. To say more accurately, unrealistic is the feature of reality, it seems to say. This is a phenomenon when an alibi of the photo(an alibi that is real before it becomes a structure of a photo) gets a position over a certain degree.
   Even in photos that seem to face to face like 'The National Assembly at the Moment of Impeachment Approval' and 'Serah with 400 thousands Won Daily Income in Average,' reality looks as if it existed for the image of photo. Even the scene of 'A Certain K with Monthly Income 1.2 million Won in Average,' seems to exist waiting to be an image, as if it looked like a composite photograph. Although themes are totally different, it is the same in 'Target 1.2 Virtual Pyungyang.' Maybe the more photographic technology develops, the severer this phenomenon would be, while position of Jjicksa would get threatened on and on by a staggering growth of amateur photo technologies. In another side, as space reality and construction environment resemble the image, photos would prowl looking for sites not to be turned over from that competition. That is why frame structure of Area.Park's photos in 'The Spot of a Chairman's Suicide,' 'Kind Test-Run,' and 'Hwanghaedo Tour,' has room for interesting interpretation, that it can be more than a known genre than simple photo-actions in photo. The attitude an amateur photographers' group members in front of a nude model in recent photo taken in Japan, is also a dubious attitude toward professional photographers appearing with a big camera.
   This can be in somewhat the same context that most portraits require people to look at the camera and to be a model to some degree. In other words, the subject assertively requires to be photo-like. Surely pictures where a character looks at Jjicksa is a habit of group-picture or portrait, which is normal. However, Area.Park's photos tend to contrast with environment around, like a woman stands in front of a camera in 'Hwanghaedo Tour,' or a disabled man in a wheelchair demonstrates in the car 'Chairman.' Surely it is natural to guess that the characters would appear in Dongdaemun, Pyungtaek or Jungrancheon, and that they would be an individual or a group belonging to the places. However, it is strangely hard to think that those characters 'naturally' meet the place, have independent relation with that, or go in harmony in their inner side. Such division or contrast between character and environment more strongly entangles Jjicksa with the character. To blur background of main character, to intentionally isolate the character, or to choose solo demonstrator who uses 'politics of isolation,' is such feeling, to prove that there is no wall remained between the one appears in front of us being as an image and the real character who takes a pose.

It is true that dividing Jjicksae and Jjicksa is just a tool for convenient, so that they are not classified with strict category or actual system. Rather, two sides of photo-action, which are that the photographer patiently wait for. prepare, and look for an edgy moment, although he actually frets in front of rapidly changing subject, can be properly mixed. In that sense, those twos term may be both sided, not with a category. It can be said that Jjicksae walks much and a documentarian with busy feet instructs a photographer, while Jjicksa with little movement instructs 'artistic' photographer with busy fingers. However, the story gets more complex if the word 'photographer' attached to here.
   What is the difference between Jjicksa and photographer, then? As we draw the meaning of artistic and social system, they may be divided as technician-Jjicksae, amateur artist-Jjicksa, and artist-photographer. To divide according to presented places may be also available, such as journalism, photoshop, or gallery. However, when we redefine that Nan Goldin or Araki only is Jjicksae-like photographer, the past conventional division is meaningless. Of course Area.Park used the expression Jjicksae as he exposes his grief as an unknown photographer at that time. Think about it, then. If a photographer sends an assistant coffee-errands for him, simply pressing a shutter, who call him a good photographer?
   Real problem is, that who can award a position of 'artist.' I don't know whether that is a good position or whether that is in need. However, no matter we like it or not, people divide photographer from Jjicksa. Because they insist that even though we ask not to divide them, so it would be actually better for us to re-define who is artist then to clear out ranking remains which is bound by those concepts. I would like to define an artist somewhat sublimely, as 'a person who is willingly to response the cultural responsibility of the times, with moral and esthetic intention.' Then more complex question comes out. A photographer can be such a person? Isn't Baudelaire correct when he told photographers to just be faithful to record?
   Among Area.Park's photos where children appear, there are situation-explaining ones like 'A School Surrounded by Apartments.' He tells us that it is pitiful for students to learn in this kind of school surrounded by high apartments. This photo delivers 'complex simplicity' where that criticism on current topics grows up as an artist's words and intention. 'Dongdaemun Shopping Tower' facing with 'Buddha in Ruins' are epilogue of all these (photo) activities, accurately designating the sense of time in Seoul and what is its moral essence. I don't know if a photographer stubbornly is an 'artist,' but these pictures are real art.