Trace, 1997
Park, HongChun Exhibition
at the Samtuh Gallery from Sept. 26 through Oct. 9
Kim, SunJung, 1997

The tempo of modern life increases relentlessly. In our hectic daily routines, we sometimes yearn for but can never find ‘the old speed which was often slow.’ Photography, in which not only space created by framing but also time plays a significant role, is a medium that is as fast as our modern daily life. However, photographer Park, HongChun takes his photographs slowly using a long exposure. That is why his work To Alice, which is included in the Power section of the 1997 Kwangju Biennale, seems to be more congruous with the theme of ‘speed’ when it comes to the physical form of the work.

To Alice is composed of photographs of amusement parks taken with a deliberately long exposure, which removed all the moving objects and left only the stationary elements. During the long exposure, the lights, however, moved and changed constantly. With the effect of neutral density (ND) filters, these moving lights sat dimly but heftily in the screen, creating subtle shades of blue that seem to lie on the boundary between reality and unreality.

For Park, HongChun, the ordinary ‘click’ takes 20 to 30 minutes, which is equal to the exposure time used by Daguerre when photography was first invented. Everything in Park, HongChun’s photographs is calculated as they are taken. While many photographers adjust their photos through the printing process, Park, HongChun reduces the amount of light by using ND filters, increases the duration of exposure, and then prints the film with minimal printing adjustments. His long exposure causes color film to lose its transparency, or chroma, and therefore the extended exposure is not only the reason for the uncommon atmosphere in his photographs but also a technical problem he must solve.


In his solo exhibition titled Trace at the Samtuh Gallery, Park, HongChun depicts the seas and seaside benches in Australia, where he lived for one year. Although the photographs of amusement parks from the series To Alice were taken in Korea, there is a strong sense of ‘the unfamiliar’ in them; however, the series Trace, taken in exotic places outside Korea, exudes a sense of intimacy. This is perhaps because ‘the fakes’ – the artificial facilities of amusement parks in the series To Alice – have been replaced with ‘the actuality’ of natural objects and, therefore, the sense of the unfamiliar disappears.

In the landscape of the sea and single bench, viewers are lured into a place that exists inside the artist. Park, HongChun expresses his sentiments through his image of the sea, which looks lonely and melancholy. This sea, as the title suggests, also reflects his longing for his deceased mother. Park, HongChun’s ‘slow landscape’ generates extraordinary energy due to the colors that accumulated heavily as well as the light that moved subtly during the long exposure. Through his image of the sea, Park, HongChun entices us into the eternal moments of memories.


This exhibition review was published in The Monthly Art Magazine WolGanMiSool, Nov. 1998.

Kim, SunJung is a Seoul-based independent curator and professor at the Korea National University of Arts. From 1993 to 2004, Kim worked as the chief curator at Artsonje Center, a contemporary art centre in Seoul. She was the commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). In 2006, she initiated the annual contemporary art festival Platform Seoul. Kim was the artistic director of the 6th Seoul International Media Art Biennale - Media City Seoul 2010. Most recently, Kim was appointed as one of the six artistic directors selected to jointly deliver the 2012 Gwangju Biennial and participates in the dOCUMENTA(13) as a curatorial agent.