A Flash of Time, a Flash of Photo

Jin dong sun

Human hope for photo is always ontological. Shadow of time is soul of photo, which is also a skeleton of time. As we know real body, we always think photo as real body where body and soul are equal, although photo is not a real body but the image of it. Roland Barthes perceives photos as 'Death of Time' from ontological view. He said it is 'a piece of time which occurred only once in a life that is irrevocable.'

In all ages, a critical question since invention of photos is 'What is the essence of photos?' Over this limitlessly valid question, there are time and existence. Photos are taken because time exists, which makes a meaning of photos. Therefore, all our photo-activities or all the results of photos, is collection of time and existence regardless of purpose and usage of them. No one in the world is out of this collection of time and existence. Photos are always in the network of them.1)

Because of this, they call legendary of photos as 'a destined touch between two bodies only once only at that time'! Immortality of photos are always immortality of time and existence. Immortality of photos are still existence of the only moment at that time, despite time flows and despite recognition and attitude of people change. Besides, legendary of photos is also eternality over the moment. A piece of photo is transience impressed by a moment and eternity in prior of art and concept, which lets us see the very irrevocable moment. This is the essence of photos.

A piece of photo gives there light, time, and existence. A photographer appears before transience of light and time, while the subject flies as a fragment of time in radiating light. On one day, audience look at this at exhibition. Therefore, to look at photos is to fumble these three things, which are existence of time, remains of time, and the sense of time in existence. All the photos in the world is in three existing actions, which are to pick, to fly and to see.

Area Park's photos are in this ontological perception. Title <Hidamari> is a Japanese word meaning 'brilliantly dropping light.' It is not incidental I brought Roland Barthes' 'Satori,' when I saw the photo and its title for the first time. Satori is a Japanese word meaning 'a sudden comprehension.' Barthes uses a metonymy 'flash light' in <Camera Lucida.> Then a flash light is 'the passage of a void' where physical moment(time), ontological time(light), and epistemological moment(transience) are connected on the same spindle.2) A sudden comprehension is to perceive a brilliant existence from a physical flash in a short second, and to understand nihility which disappears all too soon. This is the essence of photos and ontological phenomenology. Photos are a flashlight of time, existence, and view but nothing.

Physical time, ontological moment, and epistemological moment are connected on the same spindle in Park Jin-young's 'Hidamari.' Being in time, existence, and flashlight which are the essence of photo, he throws a topic himself, 'What is photo?' It is in 3 flash-index about photo. What he firstly stressed in Hidamari was 'existence of light.' Light in photo is 'skin of existence.' It is vestige of light, and is skin and clothes of light at the same time. Existence of light is existence of photo, and it is also to go through the trace, gait, and fingerprint of light from the moment. These occur in a room of darkness(camera obscura.) Hence, the essence of photo is "(imago lucis), a ghost of light. Ghost is a bodyless existence, the image of radiation and flashlight, and balloting of transience and brilliance which appear and disappear in a short time.

Another important thing I saw in "Hidamari" is perception of brilliance. Brilliance is radiation of light, in other words, a symbol of flashlight. Radiation and emission of light are physical and spiritual at the same time. Brilliance of light exists from flying over. It is to perceive a flashlight which ran away from the subject itself to fly over to me now. Every photo is radiation. Brilliance is a symbol of 'separation' and a spirit of image that flew from the body. As the light of existence is different from that of sun, moon, and stars, photos are also a perception of separation about existence which freed from the subject, named the spirit of body. John Berger said like below.

The field of vision and light
run toward each other
to create a day
from their hug.3)

Day is photo. Beside, it is a portrait of time, named 'a moment.' As John Berger said, photo is in a moment of time and in a piece of space. A moment is namely emptiness, like in a movie <One Fine Spring Day.> Emptiness is portrait of all time. All of existence, life, and photo is in a moment of time and space. In those two kinds of moments, they are in the time of body and spirit rambling between them. That is the network of meaning in Hidamari.

"Hidamari" designates 'a moment seen through lens(a hole of light.) It leads a brilliant moment flown from a distant place deep into a needle eye to a longevity of time. To look photos is to look time. It is to look time and space of a certain experience. Therefore, photo is a division and comprehension both about time and space. It is in time stared and looked back, and in existed and left space. Distance between them is also the network of meaning in Hidamari. Brilliance is grounded on distance basically. Photo is born, grow and die in distance.

What is important at last in 'Hidamari' is also perception of 'drop.' Drop is death. It is why Barthes perceived and said 'photo is death' and memento mori(remember the death!) because death follows brilliance. Photo is born from death. That is because of death to call photo a skeleton or the ghost of time. Photo is to newly understand extinction. It is found and promoted from death. John Berger called this 'secret of living composition,' 'drilling between emptiness and eternity,' and 'reflection in a short time when one cannot help but die.'4)

Area Park's 'Hidamari' synchronically and diachronically penetrates death. He looks the death in photo not only from ontological but also realistic view. Then he expands the meaning of 'brilliantly dropping light' to death, standing on the opposite side of the appearance of current digital photos. For him, the network of relationship in Hidamari touches a deep ontological hope along with death of time, which disappears from present. When I say the former is death of body as the essence of photo's birth, the latter is death of spirit(nature of photo) in today's space where the essence of photo disappears. They are flashlight of intimation and ignition.

Now back to the beginning, I re-ask 'What is photo?' in front of death of photo. Then in front of that question, I again ask why that is 'Park Jin-young? I must firstly verify myself why in the world, and what connection do they have. First of all, it is timely important to ask 'What is photo?' at the moment. As long as photos are technical media, it is fair to grope the essence of photo from materialistic view. As the words of Walter Benjamin, search into the essence of media is truly real when it is going away, disappearing, or reaching death. In other words, at the moment you perceive that 'Every old media was new media at that time,' disappeared medial essence shines as new flashlight.

The question is 'Why the subject of that question is 'Park Jin-young?' Was he an ontologist before? No, he wasn't. Then was he an epistemologist or idealist who searched into the essence and phenomenon of photo, although he was not an ontologist? That wasn't, neither. As I know, he is very realist who wore a watch of actuality, and a situation-hunter who sensitively responded to real situations. Then why is the reason that he approached photo-ontology through <Hidamari>? Where can we verify that? We found long agony and time for verification about it in <Work Note> of the artist, questions and answers with him, and phenomenology of <Eyes and Mind> by Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Ponty said that changed perception comes from 'blazing up of new flame' in his book <Phénoménologie de la Perception>.5) Blazing up of a new flame here is eyes of individuals. I think Park Jin-young's changed perception is flashlight with new sense radiated from new environment. In other words, something new situation seems to explode with new sense. A sudden comprehension, brilliantly dropping light is an outburst of sense, which burns much scorchingly when it's watch of actuality.

I see his change of perception through 'Hidamar' was also possible since he as realist and situation-hunter. He was in real space all the time as a photographer who sees the flow in detail. A photographer in real world is basically a professional observer. As Benjamin said, such a person a stroller of continuous understanding and who re-recognizes index of transient vestige or trace. He is an observer, having a strong sense of symptoms. All of these are reflection of modernity which only who stands in the middle of actuality can get. Benjamin called this Seichas, in other words, 'a sense of promptitude' as an instant time. Promptness is to perceive a moment as time. It is self-expansion about flash light, endless reinforcement, and restless recognition on actuality. Only the watch of actuality lets people see past, present and future. It is the eye and mind which only who walks the present can perceive.

Area Park's 'Hidamari' is the eye of present, ultimately. It is the eye and reflection about actuality perception grounded on actuality. Hence it is neither the eye of fundamentalist nor that of principle-hunter. Perception of new actuality, that is, new environment, sense, and even some distance from his life around him look to lead him to the new change. All perception is self-consciousness about distance. That is why Mourice Blanchot stressed 'sense of distance' in the course of re-recognition. 'Hidamari' is an eye drawn from the distance of re-recognition. It seems as if it were room of flashlight and contact with distance. This is the contact point where the essence of photo meets Hidamari.