Contemplative Perspective on Intimacy of Urban Paysage

The concept of paysage tends to be regarded clear, but various cultures make great difference of the concept. Augustin Berque said that paysage contrasted with environment. He also said, “Environment is defined as the realistic aspects of circumference, in other words, relations between the society, space and nature. Paysage implies the emotional aspects of these relations. While the human society is sophisticated environment, paysage is different from the environment due to various cultures.”(Augustin Berque, <Les raisons du paysage: de la chine antique aux environnements de synthèse>). For example, in terms of the concept of Chinese paysage based on monistic cosmology, the mountains and rivers are foundations of harmony of environment and paysage. However, the western concept means the world explored by human beings, dominated by logos of language and ration not natural landscape. What is important is the cultural aspect of paysage, which is identically applied to painting and photography. The U.S. renowned paysage photograph artists such as Ansel Adams, Edward Western and Minor White created mythology of paysage and expressed sublime beauty of nature in their photographs. On the other hand, the paysage in European culture means unstable combination of nature, culture and urbanite.
Chan-Min Park sees urbane landscape as two separate aspects of environment and paysage. He has analytic view on our life style in cities. He takes photo of a building at noon when there is no shadow of it. He expresses the value of the society and combination of urban buildings and Korean geography in one frame. The mechanical nature of telephoto lens creates flat photographs. The urban landscape he shows is not threatened one shown in the photographs of Lewis Baltz and Antonio Hernandez. It is neither a sustainable city nor dystopian Los Angeles of Blade runner. It reflects both aspect of traditional Korean painting (rivers in the middle and mountains in the back) and industrialized Korean society. It combines nature itself and urban buildings which dismantled the nature. It only presents the space of life without human aspects. His photographs of many cities in Korea explain that Korean cities look similar without characteristics of each city. At the same time, it shows human relations in the cities are more complex than we expect, and the nature of human life is secretive and vague like the smog or haze in the photographs. As Chartres expressed solitude of people in cities as <pluralité des solitudes>, people surrounded by modern buildings lost their identities and live in the environment of anonymity. Weak and ambiguous identification with object in the photograph prevents fixation of the meaning. It also makes the individual status in urban landscape unstable.
In his previous works, Chan-Min Park emotionally grasped the artificial buildings in the natural landscape. However, in the current works, he expressed urban paysage based on codification of reality by systematically using digital equipment. His photograph only shows minimal and simple marks such as number without specific names and signs of apartments and buildings in the city. In the case of panoramic format, he created accurate and realistic image by adding individual photographs. The huge accumulation of clear details offsets the loss of realism caused by correction of photograph’s representation code. As a result, the urban paysage in the photograph contains architectural and graphic code. These properties are based on digital manipulation. Regardless of the expressionism of his photographs, we can see the agitation of photograph’s representative function without falling into the science fiction of Baudrillard. His works’ originality is expressed as proper distance by the selection of accurate and careful view and melancholic, sophisticated sensibility.
Bruce Nauman mentioned, “Genuine artists use the world to remove super-natural truth.” Likewise, Chan-Min Park expresses urban paysage through contradictory and ambiguous relations such as nature and civilization, past and future, paintings and photographs, and myth and reality based on multiple combinations of life and environment in the city. At the same time, he uses dialectic of gigantic and sophisticated aspects using digital technology. His urban paysage reflecting environmental aspect of cities and Korean landscape allows us to have objective perspective on cities, the space for our life and reminds us of the facts hidden in our daily life.
Young-sil Son (Image criticism/ PH. D)