Monday, May 27, 2013

Paradise in Suncheon

있잖아요!  저기는 순천대학교 뒤에 있는 정자 하고 저수지 하고 개울 하고 폭포 있는 곳인데 아주 좋아요!

One of the benefits of not being tied to a car is walking.  Thankfully, I enjoy walking, and with my Teva sandals I can walk anywhere.  Thankfully, my sense of adventure, curiosity, and exploration has not waned over the many decades of my existence on this orb.

Several weeks ago, during one of my treks along the Dongcheon in Suncheon, I was curious about all of the construction along one of the tributaries that feeds into the river.  As I walked along a new walking trail, I soon came upon a break in the action thanks to a new construction site.  At this place a crossing on the tributary itself, and a walking bridge overhead, were being constructed.  There wasn't anyway I was going to turn back, so I crossed over the tributary on the newly laid crossing and stepped deeper into the construction zone.  I was the only person anywhere near this area.  

In Korea, if a person is dumb enough to enter a dangerous area, being forewarned and all that jazz, and that person gets hurt, then it's that person's own damn fault.  I had to be especially cautious where I placed my feet in this area, because there were many obstacles just waiting to make their presence known to my naked toes.

At this point I had to climb out of the tributary due to its structure.  On top of the tributary there is a bustling little community with a lot of university aged students.  For a point of reference, this spot is behind Suncheon National University.  I received a couple of wide-eyed looks; 'where the hell did this guy come from?' kinds of looks.  One young business professional stopped me by a convenience store, and we chatted for quite some time.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of carrying business cards everywhere, all the time, always...and a smile...and a willingness to meet new people.  Just like that, I've a new client.

We parted ways, and about half a kilometer from our original meeting place, I heard my name being called.  I turned around and saw the same young man running towards me with a drink in his hand.  He had bought kiwi juice for me, and he ran all the way to give me the treat.  Life is so interesting.

I continued my walk up the tributary, but on top at this point.  There are a few places along the route with newly built stairways that allow people to walk down to the water.  Anyway, upstream I walked.

At that point where the urban ended and where the rural began, I saw a new park that was mostly finished.  Overlooking the park is a small apartment complex set in the mountain, and I thought to myself that there has to be some money there.  It is a narrow park due to the geography of the area -- it is a small canyon after all.

The park ended at the base of a large earthen dam.  A trail up the side of the dam took me to the top -- break left and one can hike up the mountain; break right and one can walk over the dam to the other side and to some sort of small village.  It appeared to me that the village route would continue the upstream adventure, but that must wait for another day. 

For a few weeks I have been telling my wife about this jaunt only to be met with the 'yeah, right, okay, sure dear' type of response that is often found in a marriage.  However, this past Saturday, my wife wanted to get out of the house, and I suggested a drive to the general area of this park.  A small picnic lunch with liquid refreshments was prepared.  My wife, while driving, was working hard to veer off course, but I kept a steady gaze on the prize.  We did find a couple of interesting places to revisit as I tried to get to the area looking from a driver's perspective.

Finally, we found a bridge to drive across thanks to a landmark I had deliberately committed to memory during my original trip.  We found a great place to park next to the tributary, but because the new park is ironically hidden due to geography, my wife was not enthusiastic about walking up a mountain on a very warm day.  And then we crested a gentle hill, and she saw what I saw all those weeks ago.  She laughed, and asked for the 1,000,000th time, "How did you find this?"

Except for the few workers working on the new landscaped grounds, we were the only people there.  In a couple of years when the new foliage has a chance to thrive, it will be a lush park.  The constructed pools have signs and banners telling people not to swim, and I'm sure no one will ever take a dip into those deep pools...ahem, cough.

I suggested to my wife that we stroll to the 정자 so we could enjoy some shade, eat our lunch, nap, and talk.

© Mark Eaton

We finally left during early evening.  But we will return.  When we left our home to drive to this location, I told my wife that it is paradise in Suncheon.  After setting up our picnic in the 정자, she exclaimed, "This is paradise in Suncheon!"  Sometimes I do get it right.

© Mark Eaton

View From Atop the Earthen Dam
© Mark Eaton

View From Atop the Earthen Dam II
© Mark Eaton

Apartment Overlooking the Park
© Mark Eaton

Atop the Earthen Dam II
© Mark Eaton

And the adventure continues.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Wonderful Dream - Photo for the Day

Spend the day on the beach, eat dinner at a local restaurant, make some new friends at the cafe, and then swim back to the boat to have a good sleep.  That is my idea of a wonderful dream.

Near to Shore
© Mark Eaton

I composed this piece at Haeundae Beach in Busan in South Korea.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scenes Along the Dongcheon

The Dongcheon is the river that runs through Suncheon with its final destination being Suncheon Bay.  I have walked and biked to and from the bay starting from my home, which isn't too far from the river itself.  A pleasant trek aided by a nice walking and biking route that runs along the river.

Upstream from Suncheon, farms and other agricultural concerns are found.  This cow and calf captured my attention while I was spending some time upstream.  One of these days I'll make the effort to follow the river into the mountains.

Cow and Calf
© Mark Eaton

Hiding Place
© Mark Eaton

Friday, May 17, 2013

남열해수욕장 -- A Change

Unlike the empty political slogan from across the ocean that merely masks deliberate destruction, deceit, warmongering, and decay, 남열해수욕장 (Namyeol Beach) is experiencing a change.  In 고흥 (Goheung in Jeollanam-do), 남열해수욕장 is my favorite swimming beach in the province.

My wife and I, along with a very dear friend, drove to the beach from Suncheon.  We didn't expect to see anyone else at the beach since it is several weeks before the official swimming season, however, there were other people there after all.  I shouldn't have been surprised because it was a national holiday to celebrate Buddha's birthday.

What did surprise me was the makeover the beach is undergoing.  Gone is the wooden boardwalk that ran parallel to the beach.  Gone from the beach itself are the covered tables with the wooden recliners.  Now there are massive boulders forming a wall parallel to the beach.  Atop the wall is a sandy walkway that also served as our picnic spot under the shade of the trees.

I believe other changes are in store, especially owing to the fact that even on a national holiday work was being done at the far end of the beach; that part of the beach nearest to the mountain with the observation tower.  It is from that tower that people watch the rocket launches from the nearby Naro Space Center.

I present three photographs I took to show some of the changes.

Atop the New Wall
© Mark Eaton

The Cleared Beach and the Tower
© Mark Eaton

Building the Wall
© Mark Eaton

Much to the surprise of my wife, I wasn't the only person in the water.  The wind was a bit cool, but the water is already nice -- a couple of more weeks and it will be very nice.

In the background of the top photo a viewer can see our camp.  A lovely picnic along with talking, swimming, hiking; a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Atta Kim and the Art of Photography

One of my favorite photographers happens to be Atta Kim, who was born in Korea.  I was thinking about Mr. Kim after tidying up some of my own photographic business; I haven't seen or heard about any recent updates speaking to his photographic art.

I appreciate Mr. Kim's work, because it is transcendent.  Fearless.

Atta Kim's website can be accessed here.

Someone wrote an interesting piece about him at Wikipedia that can be read here.

Over at the Artbook site, The Museum Project by Atta Kim is presented.  Take a look at it here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday's Musing - Busan Edition

Occasionally, I will visit Busan to shop for clothes in the Chinatown district.  Many will say it is Russiatown, and even an old, old timer will still call it Texas Street.  Regardless, there are shops there that sell clothes that will fit my frame.

What struck me as my wife and I set foot into the district was the mass of humanity.  After shopping was completed, we strolled up to the next street that proved to be sparse of people; we found a wonderful Korean restaurant.  The 돼지국밥 was excellent.  Meal completed, we ventured back into the mass to look at a couple of other shops.

Though there was shoulder to shoulder traffic, everyone was polite.  And then I saw the uniforms.  No...the uniforms the working ladies wore to designate the specific place from which their trade is performed.  One Filipina team wore single piece urban camo tube dresses, while another wore two piece aquamarine outfits.  The camo team, while standing and sitting in the doorway of their establishment were bantering with some other team across the narrow road where all the shops are located.  Ah, those were the Russians, who wore a dark something or other...I couldn't tell, because I was distracted by the orange, purple, and pink hair.  

One oriental group, by numbers a large team, wore silver dresses with a lot of reflective circles -- much like the lures fisherman use to catch fish.  A team that I called the Europeans were all tall with olive complexions and intelligent eyes that burned.  They wore black, and their beauty was stunning.  There were other teams, but I had to watch where I was walking due to the crowd.  All of the teams were calling and beckoning.  I looked at my watch; it was only 3:30p.m.  

Anyone who has lived in Korea will know that shopping in this area, for clothes and shoes, is done during the daylight hours, but after dark another type of shopping becomes the front and center attraction.  Or so 'they' say.

My wife stopped at a table to look at some colorful socks.  나는 쳐다봤어요.  Above the sea of humanity were banners curving from one building to another across the narrow road, in the form of a large smile of some imaginary being, that read, "Welcome, U.S. Navy."  The mystery was solved.  And I laughed.  

My wife was so engrossed with the socks that she didn't notice the old deaf Korean man begging behind her.  I signed to him and with a huge smile he darted up to me.  His mastery of American Sign Language was far greater than my mastery of Korean Sign Language, so we talked using ASL.  He felt lucky asking for more money than I gave him, but he was off to another person when I said no.  But he did make a big show of his gratitude using KSL.

Then off to Haeundae Beach for an early evening view of the ocean.  This is what I saw:

 Day's End at 해운대 해수욕장
© Mark Eaton

I like visiting Busan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Photography Contest by Eyes On Asia Awards

There is a photography competition at the Eyes on Asia Awards website.  Unlike the Invisible Photographer Asia photography competition, the Eyes on Asia Awards contest does require a fee to participate.

As always, read the rules, and read the fine print.  Have a go at it by visiting the EOAA website here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday's Musing

Strange are the things I tend to think about when alone and introspective. 

No different as I read Frederick Forsyth's, The Deceiver.  While closing the book in anticipation of a client arriving, this thought came to mind:  "I sure will miss reading when I'm dead."

Too young to be thinking such things, but I suppose not when setting priorities and making commitments.  Too bad I didn't have such thoughts when I was young and dumb.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Invisible Photographer Asia is Calling for Submissions

Submissions are currently being accepted to the "Street Photography Asia Award" photography competition over at Invisible Photographer Asia.  There isn't a submission fee, however, it is important to read all of the competition guidelines and rules before entering.

Have a go at it by visiting the Invisible Photographer Asia website here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sylvia de Swaan

For years now the photography of Sylvia de Swaan has touched me deeply.  There is European history, feelings and emotions, and a personal interest of peoples slaughtered and displaced just for being different, powerless.  In some of her projects, Sylvia de Swaan is an intimate part of the subjects of her compositions as can be seen with her hands reaching and connecting.

It is a privilege and an honor to present Sylvia de Swaan --

Eaton:  Please introduce yourself.

Sylvia:  I’m an artist/photographer who was born in Romania and has lived and worked in Mexico, Europe, and the U.S.A. I’m a traveler, explorer and seeker. Though I adapt easily to new people and places, on some level I often feel like the odd person out, the one who can’t give a short one line answer about who I am or where I’m from, the one whose lineage was truncated before I was even born and whose early history is a blur of trauma, change and movement.

Eaton:  What do you do?  Most importantly to me, why do you do what you do?

Sylvia:  I have a long track record in the arts dating back to my teens at the High School of Music and Art, one of NYCs public schools for specially gifted students - where we already were treated as serious artists. In my early twenties I went on a six-month visa to Mexico City to make art and have an adventure, and ended up living there for eleven years – got married, had a son and became an active member of the arts community. My works on paper, paintings, light boxes, and others were exhibited in numerous one person and group exhibitions. Eventually at a lull in my work, I became interested in photography and had an informal apprenticeship with Rodrigo Moya, a Mexican photographer who took me under his wing and taught me the rudiments of the medium. I only meant it as a temporary digression from my “real work,” but much to my surprise photography little by little won me over.

I’m one of those fortunate people who wake up in the morning and mostly do what I love to do, i.e., my own work - whether that consists of being involved in a long term project; sometimes traveling, other times being home – shooting film, processing, editing, designing a book, preparing for exhibitions, or writing about the work. Or on the other side, to earn money or part of the overall creative process, I teach photography, give slide lectures, curate exhibitions, and for sixteen years was Executive Director of a studio arts organization.

Waiting - © Sylvia de Swaan

Eaton:  Your resume is remarkable. In my opinion, it is a statement about your work ethic and the quality of your artwork. What did you do to become recognized in the art/photography world? How do you sustain your incredible reputation and the flow of your work?

Sylvia:  Thank you for considering me more successful than I think of myself – but it is a fact, to paraphrase some famous person, that nobody thinks that they are thin enough, rich enough or famous enough. I’m a Leo with a Virgo rising – which means that I’m both outgoing and introverted. My underlying belief is that if one makes meaningful work wherever one is located, somebody will take notice. That was my philosophy when in 1979 I was invited to be the director of a fledgling residency program for sculptors located in Utica NY, which under my watch gained an international reputation among artists, was awarded a New York State Governor’s Art Award, a Mac Arthur Award – and it’s also my philosophy regarding my own work. I’m not particularly good at standing around at openings with a glass of wine in hand making scintillating conversation – but I do think it’s necessary to do professional outreach on some level, so that ones work doesn’t languish in the closet with no one to look at it.

The internet and social media are very useful for disseminating ones art to a broader audience, without having to be in that awkward position of banging on a gallery door with a heavy portfolio in ones hand. I post images on Facebook, in part to look at them myself in an open arena, using it as an editing space – but at the same time my worldwide community of “friends,” among them artists, photographers, critics, writer, can see them and react or not…so of course a much broader international public now know my work than before.

Eaton:  Who and/or what influences and/or motivates you?

Sylvia:  My influences are cross-disciplinary. Since I didn’t start out as a photographer from the very beginning, I don’t share in some of the holy canons of photography that seem to preoccupy others. In some ways my work relates more to film and literature – because of my interest in narrative and time and memory. Nevertheless my early inspirations were painters: Kandinsky, German Expressionists, Surrealists, Picasso, Goya, Redon and many others. As to photography Bill Brandt, Duane Michals, Kenneth Josephson, Roger Ballen, Lorna Simpson, Duane Michaels, Nan Goldin, Eikoh Hosoe, James Nachtway and many, many others.

 Portal CZ - © Sylvia de Swaan

Eaton:  Your photographs, “War Game” and “The Tunnel,” command my attention, as do many other of your images. What are you trying to communicate to those who view your art?

Sylvia:  The two images that you mention are part of a long-term project titled, “Return,” that I began in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the communism – in order to explore the terrain of my early childhood, and retrace routes my family traversed as Holocaust survivors and refugees at the end of the Second World War. These images are part of a symbolic language that I developed over time to depict the invisible, the bygone and the intangible. In my journal I’d written, “how does one photograph and absence?”

By the way, none of my photos are photoshopped. They’re all taken real time and space. So for example “The War Game” is a picture of my hand holding a model P38 bomber (that for a nano second is meant to look real) overlooking a railroad yard in Poland to depict a recurring nightmare from my childhood years.

So as not to repeat myself excessively with things I’ve said elsewhere, I copy and paste a post from Fototazo that tells about this project and my intent to work on a sequel this coming summer:

Eaton:  You have an extensive background speaking to the subjects of being published, exhibiting your artwork, and receiving grants. What advice can you share with an artist or photographer who wants to broaden his or her own horizon?

Sylvia:  There are no formulas, but I think for starters you have to love your work and be sufficiently engaged in it to push to ever further and to be willing to edit out your favorites, because they may not contribute to the narrative as a whole – but also you have to share it, send it out and apply for stuff. While it does happen sometime that artists have been “discovered” without any effort on their parts, it is pretty rare and unlikely.

There are two sides to being an artist – one is the inspirational, visionary, who shouldn’t be overly concerned with audience or money during the process of creation – the other is the more practical, professional. And of course because there are many more artists than opportunities available every application is a long shot. But it’s definitely worth trying - first because one gets better at it with practice - better at editing, better at presentation – and second because respected professionals get to see the work, and even if one isn’t chosen as numero uno, somebody might remember and recommend one's work at a later date. 

When I apply for a fellowship or grant, I put a lot of work into it, doing the best I can at that particular moment. When I send it off I usually don’t think of it again until just before the scheduled announcement dates.

Below is a link to the American Society for Media Photographers that offers some very useful advice about competitions and how to apply:

Eaton:  To date, what accomplishment has created the most satisfaction for you?

Sylvia:  Like any artist who has worked for a long time I’ve had my share of successes and disappointments. What gives me the greatest satisfaction is my trajectory as a whole, for the fact that I’ve consistently developed and grown as an artist, have never had to compromise my aesthetic or beliefs – and though I haven’t gotten rich I do support myself and have been honored to be awarded prizes and fellowships for my works.

But my formative milestones were being accepted to attend the H.S. of Music and Art; venturing to Mexico in the 1960s and creating a rich, interesting new life there; having a son; living in New Orleans in the mid 1970s; coming to upstate New York; my sixteen-year job as director of Sculpture Space, which I left to devote myself again to my personal work. I feel grateful and privileged for all the fellowships and awards that have facilitated the creation of new work and hope to continue making meaningful and relevant work that will garner me support in the future.

Eaton:  Please share any links to any sites so that readers can see more of your work.

Sylvia:  Though I’ve only mentioned one here by name, but I work on several long-term projects concurrently: 

View Return at the Empty Kingdom site here.

Sylvia de Swaan's website can be accessed here.

Her photo blog is found here.

For those readers who use Facebook, some of Sylvia de Swaan's work can be seen here.

Eaton's Note:  Read Sylvia de Swaan's resume at her website here.  Please also note that I received an updated version of the resume from Sylvia de Swaan.  Rather than repost the entire resume here, I shall share some current information:

-Ongoing -- Reviewer, Photography Reviewer, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
-2013 -- Guest Curator; "Contemporary Drawing:  Recent Trends" -- Kirkland Art Center, Clinton, NY
-2012 -- Instructor, Intermediate B&W Photo, Pratt Institute