A SQUARE | ARTIST STATEMENT
The work in A Square began in 2004, when a bird’s-eye-view of a new park near some construction in downtown Seoul caught my attention. Previously, I had been photographing the sites as seen from the roadside, but from this new aerial perspective, my eye quickly shifted towards places of rest, or parks, that were also under development.
Each area I photographed represents a small park, similar to a town square. Quadrangle in shape, these places are difficult to define. Their atmosphere is similar to that of a traditional park but their usage and size are sharply different. They cannot quite be defined as courtyards or gardens, and technically they more closely resemble the agoras of ancient Greece. When people observe the pictures of these parks from above, they slowly begin to realize that there is something very unnatural about them; they are exotic and heterogeneous scenes, different from real parks.
I find that showing the parks in this way reflects the characteristics of the Korean metropolis where I live. While a park might be associated with rest and play, these areas are increasingly used commercially as a means to boost property values. It would, after all, be hard to have discussions or take rest in such places. Likewise, for people in contemporary Korea, days are compressed in terms of time and space and taking a rest in a small downtown area doesn't seem to have any meaning at all.
The parks also reveal the distortions of fabricated Korean-style spaces, and possibly, the stark realities of capitalism in a slightly comic way as well. Utopian parks are spread out before us, but the trees and resting places situated amongst the bleak concrete structures remind me more of Lego models. And while most won't readily admit it, they are dystopian in reality.