Contemporary Landscape Photography: Dissolving Boundaries in Jungjin Lee’s Wind Series
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In the Wind series (2004-2007), Korean photographer Jungjin Lee captures tumultuous views of the American desert. These photographs are printed on handmade mulberry paper, which Lee sensitizes by hand and heavily edits in the digital darkroom. Lee’s images are landscapes of a state of mind, evoking a fleeting psychic connection between nature and the photographer – a connection that Lee enhances even more in the darkroom. Each image is the result of a heavily mediated process that both accentuates and effaces the technical capabilities of photography to create a unique aesthetics with many similarities to traditional ink painting. While her process is reminiscent of the Pictorialist movement and traditional Asian landscape painting, it is ultimately firmly rooted in the context of contemporary photography and linked thematically through the need to overcome displacement in an increasingly global context through image construction. Lee’s landscapes are rich in metaphors, making the unseen perceptible. Buddhist and Shamanistic concepts like impermanence, the void and oneness permeate the images in the Wind series, where majestic mountains dissolve into sky, until the entire composition becomes abstracted from an actual location. In Wind, Lee not only questions the unseen energy that transforms the skies and vistas, but she is also drawn to the intersection between these vast majestic expanses of land and the individual. In this exploration, Lee photographs the ruins of houses, abandoned detritus and forlorn homesteads. Throughout the Wind series, Lee conveys the constant flow of experience, time and space through her experimentation with borders, framing devices and her printing process. To situate this body of work within a global framework of space, place and time, I rely on the theories of cultural geographers Yi-Fu Tuan and Doreen Massey that cast light on multiple modes of relating to our surroundings and the intricate histories embedded in them.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Jungjin Lee's photographs at historical and cultural crossroads -- Spirituality and porous boundaries -- Simultaneity and spatio-temporal disjunctions