This book clearly illustrates the precipice along which this blog walks: sitting at the intersection of photographs and text, and as the text is only in Korean, it is beyond my full understanding. This is a flaw of this blog that I am all too aware of. Over-arching ideas, the photographs and physical books I understand. Korean Text and the nuance it might bring often eludes me. I note this because this is a book that I quite enjoy even with my understanding hobbled by my inability to fully appreciate the text. I don’t see this as a fatal flow but certainly one of which I am aware.
2011, 5, 24, Tuesday mines multiple perspectives of a single day. Each of the subjects in the book was in the same place, at the same time and doing the same task. The book is comprised of their individual accounts describing what happened that day; each account is accompanied by a portrait. Though I cannot read the text and despite the fact that the tasks were done for the military, the events described appear to be banal. It is (I assume) the small differences between their accounts that are meaningful.
Each text is accompanied by a portrait of the man who wrote it. The portraits are all snapshots: loose, familiar, affectionate but without affectation. I assume the photographs were made by Jo who designed the book and that they were shot with a point and shoot with a built in flash. They would be better considered alongside Nikki S. Lee’s “snapshots” rather than Terry Richardson’s. When a journal entry runs longer than a page, a photograph of the location sits across from the additional page of text. The opening and closing photographs are all of the location.
Published by Corners, it is no surprise that the printing is rough risograph. The photographs are all in a limited blue tonality. The clipped tones nonetheless convey much and suggest more. The next to last photograph in the book, one of the few that isn’t a portrait, is a broad sky above distant layered hills with a flash-lit fence in the foreground. The regularity of the fence–harshly lit by the flash, sets off the subtlety of the rows of hills and the glow of low clouds below a clear sky above. Where the blue ink blocks up in the dark tones of the hills there is wonderful play between the ink and the paper’s fibers. One can almost see trees, branches and pine needles.
As might be gleaned from the types of books that I have written about (and purchased before doing so) I like small books that delve into small ideas and I like quirky presses that make the most of their limits. Corners is just such a press, and this is just such a book.