Read without the hyphen, the title of Bo Bae Kim’s book, inter-view, suggests the act of asking questions. First question: what or who is being questioned? Second question: who is to ask these questions? The book’s first photograph is of theater seats. The seats are empty; the theater is dim; light from somewhere catches on the seats’ smooth leather. We are not the audience. Are we the show? Has the audience left, or are we awaiting its arrival? Several photographs in we come across a figure sprawled on a rocky beach. Her position is unnatural. Has she been tossed back by the sea, drowned? Or has she been posed? Are we witnesses, and if so to what?
Questions come fast and furious from any photograph–every photograph. A good interview has direction with questions that lead with intent. The hyphen in the book’s title can give direction to our questions. “Inter-” is rich with possibility. It tells us the answers we are looking for are between and among, together and during the photographs.
A figure stands on a nighttime beach with its back to us as it looks out over a rolling sea. Another figure, laying prone on a rock bluff, is truncated by the picture’s edge while a torrent of water runs down through the rocks, edge to edge. Yet another truncated figure: the foot and leg of a nude, mostly obscured by flora, reaches back into the frame to caress the foot of another figure, also nude. Time moves infinitely forward, observed or unobserved; finite as we are, all that we can do is seek solace in our tenuous connections with one another.
Edges interrupt our view of subjects throughout inter-view. A thin sapling splits the photographic frame; a low landscape extends into a hazy distance. The gauzy veil of a bride, white and fine like the spray of waves crashing against a rocky shore, blocks our view of breaking surf; the sea and sky beyond meet at a blue horizon. A woman stands at a kitchen counter; her torso and head are blocked by an open freezer door; her bare legs and underwear protrude below. Another woman sits on a terrace at a round cafe table; she blows smoke from behind tresses laden with clips and chemicals. (This photograph alone is worth the price of admission.)
Threads of sequences form in the interaction between images: bodies obscured and truncated; compositions split straight up the center; frames within frames; references to the act of looking and watching. There is a push and pull between seeing and obscuring.
The final image might be the key stone. A missing picture frame has left it’s mark as a rectangle of fresh wallpaper surrounded by faded wallpaper. A nail still pierces the wall, holding nothing. The recorded moment is gone; the impression it has left is palpable. Action has created a record of the trace of light twice over (the hanging and subsequent removal of the photograph and the creation of the new photograph). The action both obscures (we can no longer see the photograph) and shows us something (the new photograph of the missing photograph).
We return to our initial questions: who or what is being interviewed, by whom and to what end? Kim’s photographs obscure what they have recorded. As much is suggested as is shown. A photograph is imperfect; it is not absolute. Meaning is in the interstices between photographs; beautiful white empty page space is abundant in the book’s design. In the interaction between images or in our interaction with the images we find answers, meaning.
Bo Bae Kim (bbkim.com; link listed in colophon is dead.)
Design: VA/Visual Attention