Monthly Archives: April 2014

xyZ City, workroom

As I’ve noted in the past, I’m a bit of an urban planning geek. It comes from my grandfather who was involved with local government. I find the urban space endlessly fascinating. A proper city is always in a state of flux. Blink and the city changes. This interest is reflected on my bookshelves and my personal photographic archive. I dig cities.

It’s no wonder then that I was drawn to workroom’s xyZ City, though I’m not entirely clear what the book is. An illustrated treatise? An exhibition catalog? An exhibition in book form? There is no English text, so I’m left with the title, layout and photographs themselves to decipher it.
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Stop Coveting / Buy New

Colin Pantall posted his thoughts recently on the vicious cycle by which some books become highly coveted, their prices rise and they become more coveted. His post is partly concerned with this: “why buy something old and beyond your budget when you can get something new?”

I agree with Pantall. The prices of many books that have become historical touch stones have become astronomical. The object value overwhelms the photographic value. Publications like Errata Editions make some of these books accessible, but why not buy something new? Why not support artists who are making interesting work now? (I’m not suggesting that Errata Editions efforts aren’t worth supporting.)

Most of the books reviewed here on Korean Photo Books are very affordable. They are generally &#65510 20,000 to &#65510 30000; many of the zines are closer to &#65510 5,000. There are equally affordable books everywhere. Buy something new. Support a working photographer.

Looking for a book whose value will rise? Stop. Go buy a mutual fund (but watch out for those fees). Buy books because you enjoy them.

Pla-Wars, GyooSik Kim

My childhood was filled with mock battles, computer games and half finished model making. I clearly remember several of the unfinished models: a WWII era US aircraft carrier, an FA-18 fighter jet, Kennedy’s PT-104 (a story that fascinated me) and an F-14 Tomcat. As a entered my teens, the first President Bush went to war with Iraq; it was an easy (and brief) transition from half-heartedly collecting baseball cards to half-heartedly collecting cards depicting the materiel of war. With all of that conditioning, it is a wonder that I never joined the military.

One might justify all of this as a benign means of engaging with history or learning engineering or strategy skills. Or, one might cynically suggest that our society, indeed most societies, are militaristic at their core and mold their youngest citizens accordingly. The Secret Machines, their album “Now Here is Nowhere” playing in the background while I was looking at the book, sang: “The road leads where it’s led.” When we make childhood into a simulacra of war, what life journey are we suggesting for individuals and what future for society at large?
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A conversation with Corners

This past March, while Ji and I were in Seoul visiting family, I had the opportunity to sit down with Hyojoon, Daiwoong and Eunhye of Corners and talk about how book making fit into their design practice and why they were making books. They were incredibly generous with their time, and very patient with me as I felt my way through this first in a series of interviews. A big thank you to Jimin Han, a very talented artist I met through Sook Jin Jo, who acted as my translator during the interview and generally kept the interview moving along. Thank you also to Yoonsun Jung for her work transcribing and translating the audio.

Daiwoong Kim, Eunhye Kim and Hyojoon Jo of Corners.
l-r: Daiwoong Kim, Eunhye Kim and Hyojoon Jo of Corners.

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Play In the World, Park SangSook & Seo JiAe

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?
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untitled (Annual Image Book), Go Dae Gun, Yoo Byung Seo & Lee Yun Ho


After interviewing the crew at Corners, Jimin and I took a cab over to The Book Society. During the brief taxi ride I tried to describe what made a book interesting to me. The essentials of my explanation was that I liked highly idiosyncratic personal photographic visions published in object like book form. At The Book Society, she pulled a small volume off of the small publishers and self-published shelf and, holding it out, said, “I think you’ll like this one.”
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