© Kyungwoo Chun, Believing in seeing #7-1, from the series Believing in seeing, 2007
© Kyungwoo Chun, Believing in seeing #2, from the series Believing in seeing, 2007
“I photograph not what I see, but what I believe exists.”1) This words of Chun Kyungwoo stated in an interview reveal his thoughts on photography and imply the meaning of the title of this exhibition, ‘Believing Is Seeing’. The title is a paradoxical response to the Western adage, “Seeing is believing” as it takes a strongly skeptical view of modern Western thought that prioritizes visual verification and of the general definition of photography of visual reproduction. In fact, the distinctive appeal that penetrates the photographic oeuvre of Chun lies in this paradoxical methodology through which established order is primarily taken to be delivered at the opposite end.
Let us start with the most basic fact. Chun photographs people. The figure in his photograph has neither clear outlines nor definite shapes. This results from his use of low-sensitivity film and a long exposure. What is interesting about this is that this method is identical to the method used for the portrait photography of the mid 19 th century when it first appeared. Since early portrait photography was requested by upper-class people to show off their social standings, one of the most important factors that had to be fulfilled was to clearly demonstrate who the figure was, and thus the realistic representation of the object was imperatively essential. The photographic technology of that time inevitably required a long exposure, and hence a photographer had to ask the subject to keep still for a considerably long time. Although Chun’s portrait photographs employ the same conditions of early portrait photography, its process and aim are entirely different. The portrait photography of that period utilized such props as a chair decorated with gold and curtains to expose one’s social rank, but on the contrary Chun intently neutralizes the background and dresses the subject in black in many photographs of his. This is to place the sole focus on the subject. The long exposure buries the background and clothes, and we can concentrate on the “subtle nuance”2) emanating from the eyes and facial expression of the subject. Chun’s photographic works necessitate a long exposure in order to render “a delicate moral texture,”3) that is, the process of minute mental change occurring only to the very subject that is being photographed during a certain amount of time.
source: Gaain gallery
More of his work can be ssen here