Google Translate makes poetry. Park SanSook’s and Seo JiAe’s Play In the World about page is transmuted thusly:
Glitter trees and shadows, people have their own space, to travel through the pictures at the moment I would like to keep for a long time.
By turns banal and sublime, Play in the World is Park’s and Seo’s monthly visual diary. There is no theme, no self-assigned project and no over arching subject each month. The zine is a day to day record of the “small but valuable.” It is a constant question: What have I seen? Or, rather: What have we seen?
To date, Park and Seo have published 23 volumes of Play In the World going back to May 2012. The latest issue is March 2014.
Many of the zines and self-published books that I have found in Korea are travel based. I am thinking of publications like the Walk zine Project, Eunhye Kim’s Berlin, London and Boracay, or Oh SeBeom’s 31 days 807.3km. There is absolutely bias in this sampling; I don’t own, haven’t seen and don’t know about every self-published book coming out of Korea. Nonetheless, it seems a fair observation that the travelogue is a core genre within self-published Korean photo books and zines.
Play In the World plays in a different sandbox. It is diaristic. It feels like a condensed and edited Tubmlr feed. Indeed, Park maintains a Tumblr feed and Seo a blog of their photographs. Play In the World itself has a Tumblr feed that showcases, promotes and extends the printed zine.
While the photographs may be of the day to day, it would be a mistake to focus on the “small” and overlook the “valuable.” The zine as a whole takes a broad view. Images are paired to maximum effect. Two banal landscapes below perfect cotton candy clouds blend in the saddle-stitched gutter. A red flower pulls against an illuminated don’t walk sign in the facing image. Two houses on the water oppose each other on a spread: one wooden and sitting on the sand and the other concrete and set up on a wall of basalt rocks. The photographs themselves are like the play of children: serious. The photographs are full of apertures, images within images, and photo-historical reference. A streak of wry humor runs throughout.
Play In the World conveys a wonderful (in the literal sense of the word) vantage on the world. Park and Seo have a knack for creating quietly engaging images and a talent for placing them within sequences that amplify their internal dynamics. The zines remind me of the joy with which I entered into photography and the ecstasy of seeing the day to day world.