Wednesday, June 10, 2015

201200018 Dong Yi Kang / Reaction Essay/ Thurs 56


Hiroshi Sugimoto, a renowned Japanese photographer, has quoted in his exhibition at the Leeum Samsung Museum that photographs are wonderful tools, for it captures the moment and allows the people to see what doesn't exist anymore, an event that has simply ended. He also suggests that photographs convey messages, that could be manipulated through the angles and what the photograph depicts and does not depict. To illustrate his viewpoint, the following two photographs are presented.

The first photograph is a photograph of an African child herding oxen, taken by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, who hopes to poetry the lives of the Dinka people.  When people hear the word 'Africa', people usually come up with negative images such as helpless starving children, those whom are poverty-stricken and always constantly abused by the terrible customs and the aftermath of the war. African children have been, for decades, due to media and charity organizations such as UNICEF, considered as passive beings who are in need of help. However, in this photograph, the child is a strong being sustaining himself among the mighty oxen. The children step atop the high branches to oversee oxen for the tribe. They are neither passive nor poverty-stricken, they are strong, active beings working for the people and for themselves. 
The next photograph depicts the Chinese scholastic aptitude test, "Gaokao". How the desks are aligned is amazing, and even beautiful. The picture depicts competition for the Chiense students. of the 1.3 billion people, the Chinese people are trying hard to be successful. I think and feel that South Korean students could sympathize with the photo as well, for the competition in South Korea is similar to that of China. South Korea and China has, after all, placed immense emphasize on studying, and considered studying as one of the few routes to success, and to be rich. Amazingly, the photo is full of life, full of ambition, and the heat of the competition and the passion could be felt from across the screen. 

These two photos both depict children. We cannot help but make the comparison between the two. The first picture depicts children of the wild Africa who are neither poor nor miserable, but those who are able to stand up for themselves. There is also a sense of the nature's beauty integrated to the whole photograph as well. The second picture depicts Chinese children who are, compared to the African children, granted with much more material goods and security. However, despite such material prosperity, they still compete fiercely, for their future, dreams, and their families.

The quote "the camera never lies" was invented when printed photographs were made available to the public during the 19th century. What the inventors of this quote meant to state was that paintings could be manipulated badly - it could lie and distort the reality. Yet the photograph will always depict things the way they are. However, the emotions and the notions being transmitted through these photographs could be powerful, and vary according to the viewer, for a picture is a thousand words and we are the ones who are composing those words. 


  1. Hello, I enjoyed your essay. at first I felt hard guessing what you could find some similar and different things between two pictures. because the two pictures seemed abstruse and recondite. But you clarified the point well , so I could enjoy your work. It was good and like a fantasy picture . thanks

  2. Hello, I think you have described the two pictures with specific explanations. I especially liked the paragraph talking about African children, it actually gave me new perspective towards them. Also you have well organized the differences between two pictures. Maybe it would have been better if you put describtion of colors, postitions or what subjects comes to our eyes first and etc. But overall, it was interesting essay!