Many people call these days the ‘Information age’. If you search for something on an internet site, there is lots of information related to it. Anyone can get easily get the information they want, and interchange comes quickly. Unlike other people, Kim Jung-Hwan alumnus, raises his own learning attitude from nature. Moreover, he puts prehistory into pictures with his own creeds and shows it to people. Normally, people wonder about a person who can understand and feel spiritual values through the power of art and nature. So, I talked with him about interacting with calm nature in this frantic information age.
1. What is ‘Prehistory Idea’? Do you have your own criteria to decide ‘Prehistory’?
‘Prehistory Idea’ is the same as ‘My mind’. It’s not just beautiful scenery. On the internet article, Prehistory Idea is expressed as ‘The most beautiful world on the ground’, but I think it is the course that makes the world completely mine. Feel it from where you stand, and get the inspiration by it, it’s just prehistory itself. We can call prehistory idea as ‘Mureungdown (paradise)’, but I think we don’t need that huge slogan. My favorite camera is my eyes. There are no criteria to decide. I think we should just feel and connect with subject through our own eyes.
2. You opened photo studio after you finished your wandering at 35 years old. What kind of wander did you experience? And how did you overcome with that? And why you feel photography fits you?
I wandered until I was 35 years old. Up to that time, my life was spent making a livelihood. I am a little bit ashamed, I have worked so many jobs; from salesman to street vendor. To eat and live, I visited an optician and bookstore and took counseling. As time went by, I felt some restrictions followed after these things so I found a job that I love without any restriction. I love the point that a photographer can wander around lots of places to find interest in pictures. I’m working hard now that I’m old enough. There is no regret even if it’s already late because, I think I found a value that is worthy of effort and challenge. I’m so happy right now because my life found professionalism after my past life of staying only in the safety zone.
3. What is your favorite picture among your pictures and what is the reason?
Twenty-four years ago, I took the picture ‘Deep Tide’ (1994) and it is the most memorable picture for me. The picture ‘Deep Tide’ means that it hooks your mind. You can see this word as if finding my own identity. ‘Deep Tide’ is the picture that shows one man who is fishing under the setting sun wearing satgat, traditional handmade of bamboo. In 1994, when I was at an early stage as a photographer, I went to that place with my fellow workers. Strangely, this picture is always with me because I feel I’m becoming the same as that picture as time goes by. As time goes by, I’m hooking my mind and finding my own real identity.
4. Penguins giving us big realization as they share their own body temperature to live together in the extremely cold weather through huddling. I would like to hear some of the pictures you’ve taken that will give us these lessons.
There is no moral lesson that I already decided. Nature is the teacher in itself, whether it is the plants or animals. In nature, there are rules; order, harmony, balance and law. If you realize by yourself through seeing nature in a picture, it could become your own moral lesson. However, in order to get and feel your own moral lesson, you need an insight, not just simple observation. For example, someone can think that a tree’s leaves are so beautiful and pretty when they see them. But I show my respect to the tree’s roots as I watch they are trying to save as much moisture as possible to get through their winter. I can give another example of a picture; there is my picture called as ‘The gift from god’. When glance at this picture, it’s just looks like a banal picture. But I felt wonder seeing the bird who goes to catch food at the break of day. Because the bird sits on eggs to keep them warm all through the night. If you look at this picture closely, there are sun lights coming from the right side, and that’s what I captured into this picture.
5. If you get a chance, what picture do you want to take? And are there any works or exhibitions planned in the future?
I held an exhibition called as ‘Communion with god’ this year. I plan to continue to make works on something similar to this theme. I don’t have any religion, but I get inspirations from ancient mythology, legend, and classics. I study alone by referring to EBS or Youtube, but I read Buddhist scriptures most often. I want to apply these ideas to my pictures.
6. Have you ever taken a picture in the city? What is the difference between taking a picture in nature and city?
When I conducted the exhibition called ‘Site’ in 2005, I took pictures in the city. I held an exhibition related to an urban renewal district where I worked for 5 years. There is humanism, joys and sorrows and theses have quality of work. But strangely, many people don’t possess these pictures and don’t prefer them. They are worthy as data, but I felt that the pictures have a lack of realization in the deep mind for many people. Of course, I like the place which has human scent, and each corner with beautiful sceneries in slums of the city. But I finally found a bird that replaces humans, and I think birds have a role as a medium by connecting between heaven and the earth.
7. I wonder about your tip or know-how that you can give to someone who is trying to open photo studio or who is interested in photos.
Now, I’m working as a Gachon University professor in the Department of Visual Design. What I felt for long time, doing my lecture is that many people are trying to put so many things in one frame. I want to say that the simpler picture, the larger the image and the larger the volume. And the simpler it is, the stronger that image or design. By the way, I am the same age with Steve Jobs and I have one favorite among his remarks. “Design is good if you cut more and subtract”. I agree with this idea. Lastly, I want to say that people have to focus on real original photos. I don’t recommend you to use software or photo-tool to make pictures more beautiful. If you cook with a good potato, that could be a nice meal. If you cook with ingredients which are not good, you will have abad dish though you try to imitate.
8. Lastly, can you give some advice to a person who can’t get out of value?
Materials are all over the world these days. Many people seek luxury goods and they want to live in a good house and want to drive a nice car. But if you become more and more a slave of materials, you will lose your own identity. I see the 21st century as the age of spirituality. You have to think about what you really want first, and then seek materials to some extent. When take a look around, there are lots of student who is confused about choosing their major. Many students choose their major just to make money. They just look major for materialistic safety. So they themselves are getting more confused. I don’t think my pictures are just a means of making money. I can well afford to live well in my life, and I don’t want more wealth. The most important thing is to find a work that can make you feel alive and know who you are. Materials are not everything.
The smart age, Information age. These words are so familiar to us, but many people are feeling emptiness and incompetency in these days. Someone who can’t fill his happiness without the internet, and another person thinks there is no way to earn deep wisdom. By this, Kim Jung-Hwan photographer tells us that we can get life’s wisdom in nature even if we don’t believe prehistory idea or religion. How about getting inspiration in the calm of nature through his photos instead of many articles in the internet?< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >