N.B. I am writing a series of research posts to introduce a selection of Korean landscape photographers, in part expanding my Literature Review for CS, but will also inform BoW.
The career of Kwon Boomoon (b. 1955) follows a similar trajectory to Joo Myungduck. Boomoon, as he likes to be informally called is more than a first generation Korean ‘art’ photographer from the New Wave. Like Joo, he has had a distinguished career in documentary and his project on the Hahoe Village in Andong is of great historical significance in Korea. (Lee, 2014). Today he is more recognised for his series Naksan (see fig. 1.), which is a graphically composed sequence of waves and blizzards that confront the Naksan coastline. The series captures the variances of nature with each image a reflection of the ebb and flow of tide and storm.
Boomoon was part of this era of photographers who documented the rapid industrialisation of Korea in the 1970s. His style at times is slightly more rebellious in its harsh use of contrast (see fig. 2.) that evokes more comparisons with the Provoke movement in Japan rather than say The FSA in Roosevelt’s New Deal America. Though his later work in Andong Village is more subtle, with the desire to record one of the few places at the time not to be influenced by modernisation.
Along with the New Wave, Boomoon began to focus on ‘photography as art’, as the curator Lee Chuyoung writes “His works since the 1980s have gradually abandoned specific narratives and instead focused on the natural landscapes of mountains, fields and coastlines.” (Lee, 2014). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Boomoon took a more considered approach towards ‘straight photography’ and perhaps, rather than pictorially, he takes the premise of True-View; being more in keeping with the Western tradition of documenting realistic views of nature, into photography. His early series, such as Use of the Horizon-Sea and more focused work in Waterfall (see fig. 2) offer sequential studies of natural subjects over a period of time. Rather than trying to translate Korean painting into photography, he prefers to look for abstract forms in-camera similar to Minor White (see fig. 4.).
Boomoon’s photography has expanded beyond the landscape of Korea, photographing Arctic vistas in Scandinavia and Siberia. And in the last decade or so he has become increasingly prolific. Though it is through his three series of Naksan (2005, 2010 and 2014) that he has had most acclaim. Unlike global uniformity of Seascapes by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Boomoon’s works encounter several slight adjustments to the conditions from a fixed position. The foreground ‘void’ from the snow “plays a critical role of liaising between the viewer and the image in the photograph while functioning as an empty space.” (Lee, 2014). In the centre of the frame, each image captures a unique wave from the sea. While the windswept snow is momentarily frozen in the sky.
Boomoon states that ‘These are photographs for a quiet dialogue with oneself’. Once the camera is set-up, he wants to remove his gaze, the result in Naksan (2010) for example, is 33 identical compositions of an encounter. Since no image can ever be truly the same from one another, he leaves the viewer with an unfiltered sequence of moments. It is hard to decide if this is intentional as a statement or simply loose editing.
Kwon, B (no date) Available at: http://www.boomoon.net/index.html (Accessed on 30.11.18)
Lee, C (2014) Korean Beauty: Two Kinds of Nature. Seoul: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
List of illustrations
Figure 1. Kwon, Boomoon (2010) Naksan #8152 [Photograph] At: http://www.boomoon.net/work.html?mode=naksan2&type=view&id=1537&cid=7 (Accessed on 28.11.18)
Figure 2. Kwon, Boomoon (1974) Daegu [Photograph] At: http://blog.alexmatz.com/?p=277 (Accessed on 28.11.18)
Figure 3. Kwon, Boomoon (2007) Waterfall #5 [Photograph] At: http://www.boomoon.net/work.html?mode=waterfall&type=view&id=1155&cid=6 (Accessed on 28.11.18)
Figure 4. White, Minor (1960) Ice in Light and Shadow [Photograph] At: http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Minor-White.html (Accessed on 28.11.18)