“This joyful exploration is only briefly interrupted by random moments when something familiar emerges in amongst the alien trees, cars, road-signs, lampposts, storefronts and brand-names – a Dunkin’ Donuts sign peeks over an advertisement hoarding, selling what could be anything from a holiday to a retirement care plan.”
The unfamiliar presents a zone of complete mental absorption for the photographer. Being in another land for the first time, there is a fascination in everything that looks different. This joyful exploration is only briefly interrupted by random moments when something familiar emerges in amongst the alien trees, cars, road-signs, lampposts, storefronts and brand-names – a Dunkin’ Donuts sign peeks over an advertisement hoarding, selling what could be anything from a holiday to a retirement care plan.
David Brandon Geeting’s South Korean Nature Photography is collection of images that perhaps could only result from such an experience. On holiday in Seoul, visiting his girlfriend’s parents, he couldn’t help but seek out the abstract fabric of the urban city to capture discrete photographic patterns and compositions. Something very central to Geeting’s practice, both as a commercial photographer and as an artist, is how he stumbles upon his raw material amongst the everyday detritus of city life and works it into vignettes and arrangements which he photographs in the studio. It is often later, in editing sessions sat in front of his computer where any kind of sense is made for him. He cites William Eggleston as an influence on how he is able to consider work freely without a concept, to find his work without looking for anything in particular.
“He plays with a disruption in the aesthetic surfaces of our daily life and this allows him (and us) to experience a reality which might be bypassed.”
Of course, it is a human characteristic to be drawn to the nature of things, especially the unusual. Geeting’s working style compliments this trait with apparent ease. His Korean visit was not quite as Sontag’s tourist capturing out of anxiety, or to preserve memory, but instead an interested response to the experience itself. The surroundings and objects are abstracted in order to be comprehended. The resulting book provides a feeling of being immersed in a heavily urban environment reflecting popular life, the artifice of advertising and the simulation of nature.
Within the book’s array of images, there are some that give the optical impression of constructed post-production photo-collage. The images are in fact all ‘found’, taken in-situ and reveal real visual anomalies. It is this impossibility in the everyday that is perhaps what Geeting is searching for. He plays with a disruption in the aesthetic surfaces of our daily life and this allows him (and us) to experience a reality which might be bypassed. It strikes me that SKNP was made with some enthused pace and more than just a little reflection on current times. Geeting’s interspersing of the artificial with the natural reminds us that nature and artifice are not that far apart anymore. Nature is everywhere, as is the world we create. Perhaps this is evidence of the Anthropocene, where these merge. In what he described as a stoner moment in a car whilst travelling in Seoul, he recalled a thought, ‘everything is nature’. A stoner moment? Maybe, or perhaps a legitimate vision on the contemporary state of things.
(All rights reserved. Text @ Sunil Shah. Images @ David Brandon Geeting.)