Kooyong Sohn is currently studying for M.A. in Fine Art Photography at Chung-Ang University. He is an aspiring photographer/filmmaker. He studied Media Communication at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies for his bachelor’s degree. During his college years, Kooyong started making photographs for the magazine he had self-published called Holden Magazine. It is a magazine that was published in 4 volumes, dealing with fresh ways to interpret various aspects of the city, Seoul, in photographic and literary means. From then on, Kooyong started to take photography seriously and made various bodies of work based in Seoul.Today we share his series, Nothing More, Nothing Less.
Kooyong’s work is on going at all times, focusing on the peripheral and ordinary in everyday life in and around the city. It is not necessarily “documentary” in terms of subject matter, but quintessentially approaching the genre with a psychological endeavor; being most interested in the way we perceive our world. His work always tries to challenge viewers to simply see without words, inviting them to a world where awareness is heightened, arousing questions about our perception and vision.
Nothing More, Nothing Less
The photographs presented here are diaries of my life during the past 2 years. Speaking about these photographs with my own words is inappropriate. It would be an arbitrary interpretation and an unnecessary embellishment. Such act of adding a needless footnote would be similar to a poet taking pictures that relate to his or her poems. Photographs should be liberated and ambiguous because they resemble life, which always never makes sense. One should only appreciate them, like taking a walk or listening to music. If I were obligated to articulate anything, I would have to draw the line by discussing not the photographs, but my thoughts and attitude surrounding photography itself.
In today’s world, it is apparent that unhealthy desire is diversifying uncontrollably, especially in an ever-expanding city like Seoul. The main cause for this phenomenon is the illusion that has been molded by contemporary society and system. Ultimately, unhealthy desire and illusion bring chaos and noise upon the psyche of individuals. In order to bring back balance to the mind, one needs to have a clear sense of vision and see the world as it is, without any prejudice and valuation. Accomplishing such a seemingly impossible task requires a paradigm shift, which is to perceive everything as merely surfaces. Surface does not carry context, meaning, and history; freeing it from bias and distortion. In other words, surface is the pure and honest form of all creation, giving no room for artificiality. Thus, discerning every aspect of the world as surfaces can convert disorder into tranquility.
Interestingly, photographs turn everything into surface. It begins when an infinitely angled 3 dimension changes into a limited rectangular 2 dimension. It is completed when the photographer translates his or her subject matter as solely shapes and colors without any intention in generating signification.
By depicting surface without any adjustments, photography simplifies the complex world. This inherent function of photography evokes the state of being observant, enabling one to regain awareness of delusions in modern society. Eventually, the concise world portrayed in photographs existentially demonstrates “Not doing anything forcibly,” which is a concept that Lao-tzu had emphasized in his book “Tao Te Ching.” According to Lao-tzu, one can follow human nature by not doing anything forcibly, and in turn follow “Tao,” which is an unexplainable spirit that brings everything together in harmony. It is this harmony that purifies the polluted perceptions of today. After all, a brick is a brick, mountains are mountains, and sunlight is sunlight; nothing more, nothing less.
Kooyong is also deeply interested in cinema. He was in charge of cinematography for a short film called “Origami (Working Title),” collaborating with filmmaker Eun Huh. He is planning on shooting his own short film this year, and has already undertaken writing the script with Jierro Harada, an up-and-coming graphic novelist. Kooyong is particularly attentive in the art of cinema; trying to use the medium along with photography to express himself more diversely.
Ultimately, Kooyong is planning to work in the fields of photography and cinema; both worlds separated and interactive at the same time. He is constantly searching for new ways to expand his outlook on the world through photographic and cinematic methods.
To view more of Kooyong’s work please visit his website.