Seoul's Hyperreality, Street Fashion Culture and "Flexible Sociality" as Amplified by the Parametric Multi-modality of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza

An Alien, Parametric Space

Before 2012, the creation and construction of the DDP complex was heavily (and correctly) criticized as a project as motivated purely out of the desire to construct an object of Dubordian Spectacle. (Yun) However, the proof in the theorital pudding that was the DDP megastructure  project, as the prototype and proving ground for Zaha Hadid's heavily theoretical and aspirational new conception of "Parametricism 2.0" (Schumacher), would be found in the burgeoning street fashion culture that was the result of several aspects of Seoul's unique infrastructural and cultural backdrop. Firstly, the burgeoning street fashion culture was clustered (and limited by) the rigidity of a Seoul Fashion Week event that was housed mostly at SETEC and other places, when the so-called paepi could barely find form as a nigh-subculture. The paepi, while SFW was at SETEC, were literal outsiders to the formal fashion field. But when SFW became permanently housed at DDP,  the "multi-modality" (Schumacher) enabled by its Parametricist features allowed the nascent paepi subculture to explode like gasoline thrown onto an open flame when the DDP opened in 2012. When analyzed against the fact of Seoul's already extant "flexible sociality" (Cho), the DDP ended up being a perfect fit with the city of Seoul and its urban(e) cultures, especially as it became both a spatial link to and staging ground for the cultural manifestations of the  industrial infrastructures of the Dongdaemun textile complex. The flowering of the paepi is only the first success case and example, and only the initial fruit of the fortuitous convergence of Seoul's inherent flexible sociality and the multi-modality of the space inside, outside, within, and around the DDP. (277 words)

KEYWORDS: DDP, paepi, street fashion, Dongdaemun, flexible sociality, Parametricism, Seoul Fashion Week

 

By Eugene Lim [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eugene Lim [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First Things First
I was the first "street fashion" photographer in Korea, with a body of work of clothing-oriented ethnographic portraiture that stretches back to 2006, shooting Seoul Fashion Week "paepi" (플) since late 2007. So, I've been doing ethnographic research on the paepi for more than a decade and was already documenting them when their culture exploded with the opening of the DDP in 2012. Before that, their socio-sartorial energy was relegated to the periphery of the fashion field, and literally and figuratively speaking, to the parking lot of the socio-spatial map of the fashion field as symbolised during important events such as Seoul Fashion Week.

Background of the Paper
During my class on Hallyu Marketing, I had asked the question of how the Dongdaemun Design Plaza building itself worked to define a particular, peculiar kind of social space for the street fashion scene during Seoul Fashion Week. And it occcured to me that one factor in the explosion of the street fashion scene at DDP after it opened in 2012 was the way the nature of the structure itself set the tone for a new kind of social/sartorial culture, bounded spatially by the “alien” structure of the "spaceship" and temporally by the SFW event itself. In short, the conditions of the fashion field shifted, as the DDP helped the paepi rewrite their position on the map of the fashion field even as the paepi changed the very meaning and relative position/power of the main players in that field – high fashion designers and their runway shows – and it is my contention that the relative positions of those formerly at the top and bottom of the field in terms of position and power, high fashion designers on the deep inside and the paepi street fashion “kids” at the periphery, has switched completely. The paepi, helped by the alien spatiality of the DDP, have flipped the field. 

Much ado has been made about the "alienness" of the DDP structure. From "Embracing the Alien Spaceship" in the Korea Herald to the same spacey sentiment being echoed by CNN Travel and The Korea Times, and even received a (literal) sendup video put together by what appears to be some Arirang TV folks in their spare time. 

   In short, the association with aliens was clear and immediate, and initially set off alarm bells around a long, publicly funded project that had been fraught with construction issues, clashing political agendas among myriad actors, and the jarring, sheer alienness of a structure that was a monument to Parametricism and quite likely a milestone in the future of architecture and human relationships to the built environment, but in that very way, was just plain strange.  But it is that very strangeness of the building that I'd like to explore here, as my observations of the street fashion culture at Seoul Fashion Week since it opened the building in 2012 have indicated that the strangeness of the building is what imbued the space it physically defines with a different, broader range of social options and actions that was very un-Korean and enabled a certain kind of social and sartorial freedom to thrive – a place where Seoul’s “flexible sociality” was amplified by the building’s “multi-modal” design imperative. The "spaceship” is surrounded and filled with a "force field" of social and sartorial openness with a power generated by the twice yearly Seoul fashion Week event. The SFW event permanently held twice a year at the DDP defines a unique place in social spacetime in which all bets and restrictive social norms are off, and provide a social cover under which the social "freaks" do indeed feel free to "come out", to use the words of the old Whodini standard. 

Check. 

Check. 

The flowering of the practice of street fashion photography at DDP is elegant "proof" of the intended concepts behind the building's construction. 

The flowering of the practice of street fashion photography at DDP is elegant "proof" of the intended concepts behind the building's construction. 

 

Developing the Aesthetic of Seoul's Hyperreality

As a photographer, I had the goal of creating a lookbook (done in tandem with Korea Fashion News/섬유신문) that 1) addresses the nature of DDP during SFW as an un-Korean space for social aliens, and 2) provides an aesthetic match for the documentation of DDP during SFW as a space of Hyperreality, and 3) offers an aesthetic and stylistic consistency between the pictures in the collection as a lookbook.

The beginning of a lookbook for Seoul Street Fashion Week that captures the textually hybrid and heavily remixed look of Seoul's hypermodern  paepi .

The beginning of a lookbook for Seoul Street Fashion Week that captures the textually hybrid and heavily remixed look of Seoul's hypermodern paepi.

This hypermodern aesthetic is characterized by: 

  1. Heavily mediated reality. Instagram filters, frames, everything. All aspects of the images' initial mediation -- from filters and frames and exposure fixes -- are included as a part of the final image. It's as important as the initial moment of imagemaking itself. 
  2. Spatial and social layering. The images should ideally match the idea of showing the subject in relation to "a space of simultaneity" in which layers of space and spaces of social action are visible, in the way that the unique conception and  construction of the building encourage flow, and the use of the spaces that have no delineated end or beginning, inside or outside, in which "each space is made unique and memorable in its articulation, albeit without fragmenting the overall aesthetic" Photographically, this means a sense of layers and separations between elements and actors, yet they are unified within the frame, without a feeling of discrete separation between them, in the way the building structure allows for the unique kind of relationship and type of social interaction the building was designed to engender.
  3. Surreal affect. A "flashy," commercial, unreal look.
  4. Close-up, direct portraiture. The eyeline of the subject goes directly into the lens and the gazer. It's a direct, intimate connection that anchors what is obviously the central element and offers a point of direct communication with the viewer. 

Two Prongs of Investigation

  1. Documenting an extant culture of Hyperreality with the proper tools, along with written theory, as an academic paper utilizing standard academic tools such as recorded audio interviews. 
  2. An expression of Hyperreality through heavily mediated, aesthetically enhanced Visuals as a commercially viable Lookbook. 

 

Dual sets of spatial and social layers are brought together in this image, in which an open sky stands in sharp contrast to multiple foregrounds composed of concete and steel. The exposure itself utilizes an indoor studio flash unit outdoors and exposes almost to the point of whiteout, but underexposes the sky to accentuate the stormy weather that was indeed fast developing. The social layering of the young, colorful, bright, and shiny Korean youth popped out against a seemingly older, more conservative woman of the Islamic faith looking upon the subject with a mix of surprise and slight disdain is also interesting, and also includes a binary opposition of the subject engaged in an intimate, one-on-one photographic interaction in a public place, against a line of passersby. All the while giving the Janet Lynn/Japanese "V"-sign of extreme optimism while wearing a lavender, ladylike choker/bowtie atop a Madonna-originated "Like a Virgin" meme witten in gaudy, jarringly jagged script that seems to go against the mood of the gesture and its bearer. 

Dual sets of spatial and social layers are brought together in this image, in which an open sky stands in sharp contrast to multiple foregrounds composed of concete and steel. The exposure itself utilizes an indoor studio flash unit outdoors and exposes almost to the point of whiteout, but underexposes the sky to accentuate the stormy weather that was indeed fast developing. The social layering of the young, colorful, bright, and shiny Korean youth popped out against a seemingly older, more conservative woman of the Islamic faith looking upon the subject with a mix of surprise and slight disdain is also interesting, and also includes a binary opposition of the subject engaged in an intimate, one-on-one photographic interaction in a public place, against a line of passersby. All the while giving the Janet Lynn/Japanese "V"-sign of extreme optimism while wearing a lavender, ladylike choker/bowtie atop a Madonna-originated "Like a Virgin" meme witten in gaudy, jarringly jagged script that seems to go against the mood of the gesture and its bearer. 

As a structure designedas the pinnacle of Parametricism, a design principle thatcan function as "an interface for multi-modal communication" and integrates interior and exterior, inside and outside, natural and synthetic, land and sky, green and city space, and even light vs. dark, this is one of the only places in the city where one can shoot with these binaries all displayed in their stark oppositions within a single frame, especially as this is framed by the structure itself, which is designed to encourage social uses as mixed as the spaces themselves refuse to delineate themselves from one another. This mixture -- or lack of strict, traditional, spatial delineation-- is perhaps also that which is alien and in fact fits in with a certain community of social users who are themselves very much caught up in a cuolture whose very currency is that of the kind of free-form semiotic remixing and blending inherent to the Hypermodernity they both define and inhabit.  

As a structure designedas the pinnacle of Parametricism, a design principle thatcan function as "an interface for multi-modal communication" and integrates interior and exterior, inside and outside, natural and synthetic, land and sky, green and city space, and even light vs. dark, this is one of the only places in the city where one can shoot with these binaries all displayed in their stark oppositions within a single frame, especially as this is framed by the structure itself, which is designed to encourage social uses as mixed as the spaces themselves refuse to delineate themselves from one another. This mixture -- or lack of strict, traditional, spatial delineation-- is perhaps also that which is alien and in fact fits in with a certain community of social users who are themselves very much caught up in a cuolture whose very currency is that of the kind of free-form semiotic remixing and blending inherent to the Hypermodernity they both define and inhabit.  

I am often questioned, with varying degrees of suspicion and even anger, why I shoot from a low angle. I usually answer on one or more levels of depth, depending on how pointed the inquiry is and how charitable I feel. The obvious, practical answer is that it makes the legs look longer and hence the subject taller, with the head appearing smaller (something that Korean women generally like) and the subject generally looking grand and gigantic against the structures with which she appears. Simply put, the subject looks not only better to the subject herself, but becomes an object similar to the buildings she is set off against. And in a structure like the DDP, this makes the human subject into something of a stature as grand in scale as the built structure. On a slightly more analytical level, the lower camera angle (with a wide-angle lens) allows for a lot more elements to be placed in the frame. In the case of this picture, lining up the subject, the building, the flags, the other people, the sky, and even the drone that had buzzed in to spy on us all within the same frame was the only thing that made such a thing possible. On the level of architectural analysis, it makes sense to place the human subject in the frame with the low/wide angle because the scale of the human subject grows to the point it can enter into a binary with the immense structures around it, in a way that doesn't figuratively put built structures into a mere background. It compresses foreground and background in an artificial, yet aesthetically useful way to placing humans into an active relationship with the built environments in which they are pictured. 

I am often questioned, with varying degrees of suspicion and even anger, why I shoot from a low angle. I usually answer on one or more levels of depth, depending on how pointed the inquiry is and how charitable I feel. The obvious, practical answer is that it makes the legs look longer and hence the subject taller, with the head appearing smaller (something that Korean women generally like) and the subject generally looking grand and gigantic against the structures with which she appears. Simply put, the subject looks not only better to the subject herself, but becomes an object similar to the buildings she is set off against. And in a structure like the DDP, this makes the human subject into something of a stature as grand in scale as the built structure. On a slightly more analytical level, the lower camera angle (with a wide-angle lens) allows for a lot more elements to be placed in the frame. In the case of this picture, lining up the subject, the building, the flags, the other people, the sky, and even the drone that had buzzed in to spy on us all within the same frame was the only thing that made such a thing possible. On the level of architectural analysis, it makes sense to place the human subject in the frame with the low/wide angle because the scale of the human subject grows to the point it can enter into a binary with the immense structures around it, in a way that doesn't figuratively put built structures into a mere background. It compresses foreground and background in an artificial, yet aesthetically useful way to placing humans into an active relationship with the built environments in which they are pictured. 

Here are some theoretical strings I've found that seem to be worth pulling, some possible points of attaching good theoretical handles to this whole thing. 

it's an old article about "flexible sociality" of Seoul's public spaces, and despite the age of its references, you could stick in a reference to PSY's 2012 "Gangnam Style" here without skipping a beat. Given how much has changed since 1999, that's pretty impressive. 

it's an old article about "flexible sociality" of Seoul's public spaces, and despite the age of its references, you could stick in a reference to PSY's 2012 "Gangnam Style" here without skipping a beat. Given how much has changed since 1999, that's pretty impressive. 

Also worthy of consideration is the idea of consuming alienness itself, or difference itself. Of particular interest in the interview and interactions I've had was the idea of differently alien spaces in the trendy Itaewon/Kyeongnidan/Haebangchon are being "exotic" (이국적인) places overflowing with a feeling of "freedom."(자유) Here are a couple of the representative interview/interaction/portraits. It remains to be seen if I'm going to tie this into the DDP Alien structure idea or spin it off as another paper unto itself. 

 

Working Bibliography 

Architects, Zaha Hadid. 2013. “ARTICULATION,” 44–51.

Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter. Routledge. Vol. 36. doi:10.1177/0306312706056409.

Cho, Myung-rae. n.d. “Flexible Sociality and the Postmodernity of Seoul.”

Collection, Proquest Scitech. 2014. “Blend of Design , Art and Technology ...”

For. 2012. “Report Information from ProQuest.” Organization Development Journal, no. April. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17506200710779521.

Goffman, Erving. 1975. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Life as Theater. doi:10.2307/258197.

Hwang, Jin Tae. 2014. “Territorialized Urban Mega-Projects beyond Global Convergence: The Case of Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park Project, Seoul.” Cities 40. Elsevier Ltd: 82–89. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2014.03.007.

Kim, Ji Youn. 2016. “Cultural Entrepreneurs and Urban Regeneration in Itaewon, Seoul.” Cities 56: 132–40. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2015.11.021.

Kim, Ji Youn. 2014. “COMMUNITY OF STRANGERS: ITAEWON FROM ‘AMERICANIZED’ GHETTO TO ‘MULTICULTURAL’ SPACE.”

Križnik, Blaž. 2013. “Changing Approaches to Urban Development in South Korea.” International Development Planning Review 35 (4): 395–418. doi:10.3828/idpr.2013.27.

Leach, Neil. 2015. “(In)formational Cities.” Architectural Design 85 (6): 64–69. doi:10.1002/ad.1979.

Ryu, Chehyun, and Youngsang Kwon. 2016. “How Do Mega Projects Alter the City to Be More Sustainable? Spatial Changes Following the Seoul Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project in South Korea.” Sustainability 8 (11): 1178. doi:10.3390/su8111178.

Schuetze, Thorsten, and Lorenzo Chelleri. 2016. “Urban Sustainability Versus Green-Washing-Fallacy and Reality of Urban Regeneration in Downtown Seoul.” Sustainability (Switzerland) 8 (1): 1–14. doi:10.3390/su8010033.

Schumacher, Patrik. 2016. “Parametricism 2.0: Gearing up to Impact the Global Built Environment.” Architectural Design 86 (2): 8–17. doi:10.1002/ad.2018.

Section, Long, and Zaha Hadid Architects. n.d. “A Cavernous Experience.”

Yun, Jieheerah. 2014. “Construction of the World Design Capital: Détournement of Spectacle in Dongdaemun Design Park  Plaza in Seoul.” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 13 (1): 17–24. doi:10.3130/jaabe.13.17.

Street Fashion Portrait Consent/CONCEPT/Contact card -- 거리 패션 초상화 동의서/컨셉/연락처 카드드)

Who I Am and What I Do - 저는 누구이며 무엇을 하나요?

This page is designed to illustrate 1) who I am and 2) what we are doing in relation to me taking your portrait here on the street today.
이 페이지는 1) 제가 누구이며 2) 제가 오늘 거리에서 당신의 사진을 찍음으로써 우리가 무엇을 하는지를 설명하기 위해 고안되었습니다.

SFW @ SETEC in October, 2007

SFW @ SETEC in October, 2007

First off, I am the longest-operating street fashion photographer/blogger in Korea. I began doing street photography in Seoul in August 2002 and switched to street fashion in late 2006 when I began Korea's first street fashion blog, before switching over to pure street fashion portraiture in late 2007, when I began covering street fashion at Seoul Fashion Week in SETEC as well as the Seoul Fashion Artists' Association (SFAA) shows around Seoul. At the time, I was the only consistently active street fashion portrait photographer around, Korean or otherwise, shooting randomly-chosen subjects in the streets. 

일단 저는 한국에서 가장 오랫동안 일해온 거래 패션 사진가이자 블로거입니다. 저는 2002년 8월부터 서울에서 street photography (거리 사진술) 을 해왔고, 2006년 말에 한국의 첫  패션 블로그를 시작하면서 street fashion (거리 패션)으로 업종을 바꾸었습니다. 그러다가 2007년 말에는SETEC에서 열리는 서울 패션 위크와 서울패션 아티스트 협의회 (SFAA)의 쇼를 보도하면서 순전한 street fashion portraiture (거리 패션 초상화법)으로 방향을 바꾸었습니다. (made into new sentence) 그 당시에는 국적을 막론하고 꾸준하고 활발하게, 거리에서 무작위하게 고른 대상을 찍는 거리 패션 (초상화) 사진작가는 저뿐이었습니다.

SFW @ SETEC in March 2009. 

SFW @ SETEC in March 2009. 

My name is Michael Hurt and I'm a photographer and professor living in Seoul, Korea. I received my doctorate from UC Berkeley's Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies and also started the first street fashion blog in South Korea in 2006. I am a professor at Yonsei University, where I   teach both Hallyu Marketing and Visual Sociology. I have been covering street fashion on the streets of Seoul since 2006 and street fashion people at Seoul Fashion week since 2007.

More information about me is available through a simple search on Google (in English) and the Korean search engine Naver (in Korean). I also write about and shoot Korean Street Fashion for the Huffington Post USA, and have done feature stories on Korean fashion for CNN Travel. I also wrote for featured articles on Naver Post in Korean, and my work has found exposure in places from the Donga Ilbo to Joongang Sunday.  My pictures can be followed on Instagram under the ID kuraeji, with Facebook ID: metropolitician

저는 마이클 허트라고하며 대한민국 서울에서 살고 있는 사진작가이자 교수입니다. UC Berkeley에서 비교인종학 박사학위를 땄으며, 2006년 한국 최초의 스트릿 패션 블로그를 개설하였습니다. 연세대학교 교수로 한류 마케팅과 시각 사회학을 가르칩니다. 저는 2006년부터 서울의 거리에서 스트릿 패션을 취재하였으며 2007년부터는 서울 패션 위크에서 스트릿 패피에도  집중하였습니다.


저에 대한 더 많은 정보는 구글(영어)이나 네이버(한국어)에서 찾으실 수 있습니다. 저는 미국의 Huffington Post를 위해 한국의 스트릿 패션에 대해 집필하거나 취재하며,  CNN Travel을 위해 한국의 패션에 대한 특집 기사들을 쓴 경험도 있습니다. 또한, 네이버 포스트에 한국어로 특집 기사를 쓴 적이 있으며  제 작품들은 동아일보나 중앙Sunday과 같은 곳에 노출이 됩니다. 저의 작품들은 인스타그램 (아이디:kuraeji) 이나 페이스북 (아이디: metropolitician)을 통해서 만나보실 수 있습니다. 

Textile Industry News (TINNews) , 2010. 

Textile Industry News (TINNews), 2010. 

CNNGo (CNN Travel) , 2010. 

CNNGo (CNN Travel), 2010. 

Glamour Germany,  2017. 

Glamour Germany, 2017. 

Joongang Sunday , 2016.

Joongang Sunday, 2016.

Please center this text in your phone and display this along with the whiteboard contact information plate for a picture:

사진을 위해 이 텍스트를 핸드폰 화면 중앙에 비치하신 후, 연락처가 적혀있는 화이트보드와 함께 들어올려주세요):

I consent to the taking of this photograph and its publication in various media. 

본인은 이 사진이 찍히는 것과 
이가 여러 매개체에 게재되는 것에 
동의하는 바입니다.

 

Alien Architecture, Street Fashion, and the Hyperreality of the Street Fashion Scene at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza

NOTE: This is more of an intellectual bookmark than a fully developed argument. Hashing this out in public and shooting down/pumping up parts of it is part of my process for "pre-chewing" this idea before I decide to scrap it or invest more into making it into an academic paper. At the very least, it's something likely to be worthy of discussion for my university classes and could be something interesting to the right researcher/thinker/student. 

Truly Alien terrain, by H.R. Giger. 

Truly Alien terrain, by H.R. Giger. 

By Eugene Lim [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eugene Lim [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First Things First
I've never really written a proper Urban Studies or  Geography paper. But given what I've been noticing about the particularly peculiar space in which I have been doing ethnographic data gathering for the past five years (ten Seoul Fashion Week seasons at  the Dongdaemun Design Plaza), I felt compelled to write things up in some organized and marginally academic form. So I'm taking a crack at it and writing out my thoughts, laying them out so I can even better organize them in my head. 

Background of the Paper
During my class on Hallyu Marketing, I had asked the question of how the Dongdaemun Design Plaza building itself worked to define a particular, peculiar kind of social space for the street fashion scene during Seoul Fashion Week. And it occcured to me that one factor in the explosion of the street fashion scene at DDP after it opened in 2012 was the way the nature of the sturucture itself set the tone for a new kind of social/sartorial culture, bounded spatially by the structure  of the alien "spaceship" and temporally by the SFW event itself. Ayway, I think there's a lot to flesh out here. 

An A L I E N  Space

Much ado has been made about the alienness of the DDP structure. From "Embracing the Alien Spaceship" in the Korea Herald to the same spacey sentiment being echoed by CNN Travel and The Korea Times, and even received a (literal) sendup video put together by what appears to be some Arirang TV folks in their spare time. 

In short, the association with aliens was clear and immediate and initially set off alarm bells as a long, publicly funded project that had been fraught with construction issues, clashing political agendas among myriad actors, and the jarring, sheer alienness of a structure that was a monument to Parametricism and quite likely a milestone in the future of architecture and human relationships to the built environment, but in that very way, was just plain strange.  But it is that very strangeness of the building that I'd like to explore here, as my observations of the street fashion culture at Seoul Fashion Week since it opened the building in 2012 have told me that the strangeness of the building is what imbued the space it physically defines with a different, broader range of social options and actions that was very un-Korean and enabled a certain kind of social and sartorial freedom to thrive. The "spaceship is surrounded and filled with a "force field" of social and sartorial openness with a power generated by the twice yearly Seoul fashion Week event. The SFW event permanently held twice a year at the DDP defines a unique place in social spacetime in which all bets and restrictive social norms are off, and provide a social cover under which the social "freaks" do indeed feel free to "come out", to use the words of the old Whodini standard. 

Check. 

Check. 

And check. I'd say that the flowering of the practice of street fashion photography at DDP is elegant "proof" of the intended concepts behind the building's construction. 

And check. I'd say that the flowering of the practice of street fashion photography at DDP is elegant "proof" of the intended concepts behind the building's construction. 

 

Developing the Hypperreal Aesthetic
I had the goal of creating  a lookbook that 1) addresses the nature of DDP during SFW as an un-Korean space for social aliens, and 2) provides an aesthetic match for the documentation of DDP during SFW as a space of Hyperreality, and 3) offers an aesthetic and stylistic consistency between the pictures in the collection as a lookbook.

The beginning of a lookbook for Seoul Street Fashion Week that captures the textually hybrid and heavily remixed look of Seoul's hypermodern  paepi .

The beginning of a lookbook for Seoul Street Fashion Week that captures the textually hybrid and heavily remixed look of Seoul's hypermodern paepi.

This hypermodern aesthetic is characterized by: 

  1. Heavily mediated reality. Instagram filters, frames, everything. All aspects of the images' initial mediation -- from filters and frames and exposure fixes -- are included as a part of the final image. It's as important as the initial moment of imagemaking itself. 
  2. Spatial and social layering. The images should ideally match the idea of showing the subject in relation to "a space of simultaneity" in which layers of space and spaces of social action are visible, in the way that the unique conception and  construction of the building encourage flow, and the use of the spaces that have no delineated end or beginning, inside or outside, in which "each space is made unique and memorable in its articulation, albeit without fragmenting the overall aesthetic" Photographically, this means a sense of layers and separations between elements and actors, yet they are unified within the frame, without a feeling of discrete separation between them, in the way the building structure allows for the unique kind of relationship and type of social interaction the building was designed to engender.
  3. A surreal affect. A "flashy," commercial look.
  4. Close-up, direct portraiture. The eyeline of the subject goes directly into the lens and the gazer. It's a direct, intimate connection that anchors what is obviously the central element and offers a point of direct communication with the viewer. 

Two Prongs of Investigation

  1. Documenting an extant culture of Hyperreality with the proper tools, along with written theory, as an academic paper utilizing standard academic tools such as recorded audio interviews. 
  2. An expression of Hyperreality through heavily mediated, aesthetically enhanced Visuals as a commercially viable Lookbook. 

 

Dual sets of spatial and social layers are brought together in this image, in which an open sky stands in sharp contrast to multiple foregrounds composed of concete and steel. The exposure itself utilizes an indoor studio flash unit outdoors and exposes almost to the point of whiteout, but underexposes the sky to accentuate the stormy weather that was indeed fast developing. The social layering of the young, colorful, bright, and shiny Korean youth popped out against a seemingly older, more conservative woman of the Islamic faith looking upon the subject with a mix of surprise and slight disdain is also interesting, and also includes a binary opposition of the subject engaged in an intimate, one-on-one photographic interaction in a public place, against a line of passersby. All the while giving the Janet Lynn/Japanese "V"-sign of extreme optimism while wearing a lavender, ladylike choker/bowtie atop a Madonna-originated "Like a Virgin" meme witten in gaudy, jarringly jagged script that seems to go against the mood of the gesture and its bearer. 

Dual sets of spatial and social layers are brought together in this image, in which an open sky stands in sharp contrast to multiple foregrounds composed of concete and steel. The exposure itself utilizes an indoor studio flash unit outdoors and exposes almost to the point of whiteout, but underexposes the sky to accentuate the stormy weather that was indeed fast developing. The social layering of the young, colorful, bright, and shiny Korean youth popped out against a seemingly older, more conservative woman of the Islamic faith looking upon the subject with a mix of surprise and slight disdain is also interesting, and also includes a binary opposition of the subject engaged in an intimate, one-on-one photographic interaction in a public place, against a line of passersby. All the while giving the Janet Lynn/Japanese "V"-sign of extreme optimism while wearing a lavender, ladylike choker/bowtie atop a Madonna-originated "Like a Virgin" meme witten in gaudy, jarringly jagged script that seems to go against the mood of the gesture and its bearer. 

As a structure designed  as the pinnacle of Parametricism, a design principle that  can function as "an interface for multi-modal communication" and integrates interior and exterior, inside and outside, natural and synthetic, land and sky, green and city space, and even light vs. dark, this is one of the only places in the city where one can shoot with these binaries all displayed in their stark oppositions within a single frame, especially as this is framed by the structure itself, which is designed to encourage social uses as mixed as the spaces themselves refuse to delineate themselves from one another. This mixture -- or lack of strict, traditional, spatial delineation  -- is perhaps also that which is alien and in fact fits in with a certain community of social users who are themselves very much caught up in a cuolture whose very currency is that of the kind of free-form semiotic remixing and blending inherent to the Hypermodernity they both define and inhabit.  

As a structure designed  as the pinnacle of Parametricism, a design principle that  can function as "an interface for multi-modal communication" and integrates interior and exterior, inside and outside, natural and synthetic, land and sky, green and city space, and even light vs. dark, this is one of the only places in the city where one can shoot with these binaries all displayed in their stark oppositions within a single frame, especially as this is framed by the structure itself, which is designed to encourage social uses as mixed as the spaces themselves refuse to delineate themselves from one another. This mixture -- or lack of strict, traditional, spatial delineation  -- is perhaps also that which is alien and in fact fits in with a certain community of social users who are themselves very much caught up in a cuolture whose very currency is that of the kind of free-form semiotic remixing and blending inherent to the Hypermodernity they both define and inhabit.  

I am often questioned, with varying degrees of suspicion and even anger, why I shoot from a low angle. I usually answer on one or more levels of depth, depending on how pointed the inquiry is and how charitable I feel. The obvious, practical answer is that it makes the legs look longer and hence the subject taller, with the head appearing smaller (something that Korean women generally like) and the subject generally looking grand and gigantic against the structures with which she appears. Simply put, the subject looks not only better to the subject herself, but becomes an object similar to the buildings she is set off against. And in a structure like the DDP, this makes the human subject into something of a stature as grand in scale as the built structure. On a slightly more analytical level, the lower camera angle (with a wide-angle lens) allows for a lot more elements to be placed in the frame. In the case of this picture, lining up the subject, the building, the flags, the other people, the sky, and even the drone that had buzzed in to spy on us all within the same frame was the only thing that made such a thing possible. On the level of architectural analysis, it makes sense to place the human subject in the frame with the low/wide angle because the scale of the human subject grows to the point it can enter into a binary with the immense structures around it, in a way that doesn't figuratively put built structures into a mere background. It compresses foreground and background in an artificial, yet aesthetically useful way to placing humans into an active relationship with the built environments in which they are pictured. 

I am often questioned, with varying degrees of suspicion and even anger, why I shoot from a low angle. I usually answer on one or more levels of depth, depending on how pointed the inquiry is and how charitable I feel. The obvious, practical answer is that it makes the legs look longer and hence the subject taller, with the head appearing smaller (something that Korean women generally like) and the subject generally looking grand and gigantic against the structures with which she appears. Simply put, the subject looks not only better to the subject herself, but becomes an object similar to the buildings she is set off against. And in a structure like the DDP, this makes the human subject into something of a stature as grand in scale as the built structure. On a slightly more analytical level, the lower camera angle (with a wide-angle lens) allows for a lot more elements to be placed in the frame. In the case of this picture, lining up the subject, the building, the flags, the other people, the sky, and even the drone that had buzzed in to spy on us all within the same frame was the only thing that made such a thing possible. On the level of architectural analysis, it makes sense to place the human subject in the frame with the low/wide angle because the scale of the human subject grows to the point it can enter into a binary with the immense structures around it, in a way that doesn't figuratively put built structures into a mere background. It compresses foreground and background in an artificial, yet aesthetically useful way to placing humans into an active relationship with the built environments in which they are pictured. 

Here are some theoretical strings I've found that seem to be worth pulling, some possible points of attaching good theoretical handles to this whole thing. 

it's an old article about "flexible sociality" of Seoul's public spaces, and despite the age of its references, you could stick in a reference to PSY's 2012 "Gangnam Style" here without skipping a beat. Given how much has changed since 1999, that's pretty impressive. 

it's an old article about "flexible sociality" of Seoul's public spaces, and despite the age of its references, you could stick in a reference to PSY's 2012 "Gangnam Style" here without skipping a beat. Given how much has changed since 1999, that's pretty impressive. 

Also worthy of consideration is the idea of consuming alienness itself, or difference itself. Of particular interest in the interview and interactions I've had was the idea of differently alien spaces in the trendy Itaewon/Kyeongnidan/Haebangchon are being "exotic" (이국적인) places overflowing with a feeling of "freedom."(자유) Here are a couple of the representative interview/interaction/portraits. It remains to be seen if I'm going to tie this into the DDP Alien structure idea or spin it off as another paper unto itself. 

 

Working Bibliography (my reading homework, actually)

Architects, Zaha Hadid. 2013. “ARTICULATION,” 44–51.

Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies That Matter. Routledge. Vol. 36. doi:10.1177/0306312706056409.

Cho, Myung-rae. n.d. “Flexible Sociality and the Postmodernity of Seoul.”

Collection, Proquest Scitech. 2014. “Blend of Design , Art and Technology ...”

For. 2012. “Report Information from ProQuest.” Organization Development Journal, no. April. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17506200710779521.

Goffman, Erving. 1975. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Life as Theater. doi:10.2307/258197.

Hwang, Jin Tae. 2014. “Territorialized Urban Mega-Projects beyond Global Convergence: The Case of Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park Project, Seoul.” Cities 40. Elsevier Ltd: 82–89. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2014.03.007.

Kim, Ji Youn. 2016. “Cultural Entrepreneurs and Urban Regeneration in Itaewon, Seoul.” Cities 56: 132–40. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2015.11.021.

Kim, Ji Youn. 2014. “COMMUNITY OF STRANGERS: ITAEWON FROM ‘AMERICANIZED’ GHETTO TO ‘MULTICULTURAL’ SPACE.”

Križnik, Blaž. 2013. “Changing Approaches to Urban Development in South Korea.” International Development Planning Review 35 (4): 395–418. doi:10.3828/idpr.2013.27.

Leach, Neil. 2015. “(In)formational Cities.” Architectural Design 85 (6): 64–69. doi:10.1002/ad.1979.

Ryu, Chehyun, and Youngsang Kwon. 2016. “How Do Mega Projects Alter the City to Be More Sustainable? Spatial Changes Following the Seoul Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project in South Korea.” Sustainability 8 (11): 1178. doi:10.3390/su8111178.

Schuetze, Thorsten, and Lorenzo Chelleri. 2016. “Urban Sustainability Versus Green-Washing-Fallacy and Reality of Urban Regeneration in Downtown Seoul.” Sustainability (Switzerland) 8 (1): 1–14. doi:10.3390/su8010033.

Schumacher, Patrik. 2016. “Parametricism 2.0: Gearing up to Impact the Global Built Environment.” Architectural Design 86 (2): 8–17. doi:10.1002/ad.2018.

Section, Long, and Zaha Hadid Architects. n.d. “A Cavernous Experience.”

Yun, Jieheerah. 2014. “Construction of the World Design Capital: D^|^#233;tournement of Spectacle in Dongdaemun Design Park ^|^amp; Plaza in Seoul.” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 13 (1): 17–24. doi:10.3130/jaabe.13.17.

The Lookbook of Korean Hypermodernity and Street Fashion as Social Cipher

Fashion Is Important, But Not for the Clothes
Here's the thing. I'm not a fashion guy. I'm not a fashionable guy. I'm not really into fashion. But I do find Korean street fashion endlessly, academically interesting. And have, since stumbling into its direction, in around late 2006. Let me tell you why you might also find it intellectually interesting. 

Street fashion in Korea isn't interesting because of the clothes. (Since I'll refer to "street fashion" as just "fashion" from now on, stick with me.) Fashion in Korea isn't inherently interesting. Trends change but pretty much stay the same. Debating about what's coming next season or what particular trend is good or bad is like debating about whether or not you're a good person because you do or don't like the color Royal Blue. Or whether you like French or Russian caviar. It's pointless. 

Postcolonial hypermodernity.
Korea is a place where people enjoy tonkatsu while wearing blue jeans and listen to gangster rap while wearing English word-emblazoned fashion tees made in the city's unique vertically-integrated fast fashion sweatshop/department stores and chat on Facebook on android cellphones made by Samsung.

Rethinking "Creativity"
But what is awesome about Korean street fashion culture isn’t the amazing styling, although you can like it for that if you want to; it isn’t the subcultural aspects, cuz there ain’t any, really. The Korean paepi doesn’t really constitute a counterculture, or any subcultural values different from the mainstream. Instead, they are fascinating as a new class of Korean superconsumers, as a group of youth who have found a way to gain social validation quickly and efficiently, as superconsumers who turn what Marx called the “commodity fetish” (Warenfetischismus) into a creative endeavor. They flipped a failing of capitalism into a veritable artform. They turned consumption into creation. Fucking think about that shit.

As the cultural product of hypermodernity, the Korean paepi are a testament to the power of human creativity to make the best out of a soulless system, to remix various social tendencies of postcoloniality, Korea’s compressed development, and the cultural hybridity and textual impurity that helped make K-pop a culture industry juggernaut.

Korea is barely shaking off the reins of fasco-capitalism (not the actual democracy that came as a response to it) and still lives with the accumulated leftovers of its all-rationalizing ideologies. Now that it's a consumer society in which the new ideology that rationalizes social action is a function of the structural requirement to consume, consume, consume, and even understand one's own identity as constituted by things one consumes or the choices one makes (or even sees oneself as a commodity for consumption), and young people have become socialized into seeing themselves and everything they do as part of this system, it makes perfect sense that young people -- who have never known a society not possessed of this rationale -- have increasingly developed a fashion culture that reflects these values of identity expression through consumptive acts. So, understanding Korea street fashion culture as the ultimate expression of these consumer values as the culture of a young class of super-consumers, should be a pretty straightforward thing to do. 

Fashion As Cipher
In this way, fashion is a cipher for understanding the biggest cultural-structural shift in Korean society right now. It's the ultimate expression of dominant (not counter- or subcultural) values, of (predominantly) youth culture making sense of the master imperative to eat, consume, and die and, above all, do not question authority unless it's a "Critical Thinking Question" in the the back of the textbook chapters. It's the end of a pretty weird and unbalanced equation in which the Confucian "iron cage" of ideology says one should respect authority, the hierarchy, and the Way Things Are Done™ yet participate in the new Creative Economy™, and be a good critical thinker, but not actual toooo critical.

It's the way theorist Stuart Hall says that yes, while there is a structural imperative that we should all just shut up and be lemmings and consume culture and All the Pretty Things it hawks to us without question or exception, people do talk back to hegemonic control in their own ways. They read the meanings of cultural texts different, strip and denude them, break them apart and construct them, remix them, repurpose them, and a whole myriad of other things. To the extent that the Party Propagandist, the movie director, the poet, or the fashion designer ENCODE the texts with specific meanings, individuals and communities of individuals DECODE them in different ways. And in the wild consumer society that is Korea, in the age of the "Han River Miracle" having given way to "Hell Joseon", the creative act of resistance that is created by the critical space cleared/made possible by the idea of Hell Joseon is what constitutes the creative impulses behind Korean street fashion, especially in youth. In this way, Korean street fashion culture could no more spring up in the older culture of say, Korea in the 1990s (towards the end of the old Han River Miracle paradigm, for which the Korean "IMF Crisis" of 1997 was the death knell) could no more provide the soil for such a culture than a bottle of vinegar coud be expected to yield a flower from even the best possible seed. 

A Melange of Meaning
Fashion has long been the medium in which signs and symbols -- the referers -- freed from their original meanings and contexts mutate, merge, and metamorphasize into a completely new thing that id completely separate and unmoored from their original referents. You can do it consciously, like the playful mix of mix going on with the orange-and-green girl directly below, or you can participate in a branded irony that makes a new meaning and thing out of a random mix of words and brand symbols, in the shirt that is a quite nearly an avant-garde art piece in the way it pairs up words and symbols into a sea of meaninglessness. It's genius. And that's the meaningless (or meaningful?) remixing that modern Korean culture is super-adept at. I talk about this here, in a post I called "ON THE HYBRIDITY, IMPURITY, AND POSTCOLONIALITY OF KOREAN POPULAR CULTURE TEXTS", which is a pretty theoretically useful read if you want to understand what's going on on these mean Korean streets. 


 

Defining a Hyperreal Aesthetic
What I'm actually trying to do with this lookbook of Seoul street fashion is take a disparate group of people who are not being funneled into the aesthetically controlled and formally consistent shooting box of the runway and placed into a regime of visual conformity through highly technical shooting and editing into a consistent regime of visual conformity defined by a clearly visible and palpable style and aesthetic. And I want that aesthetic to logically, tonally, and stylistically match the hyperreal nature of Korean hypermodernity as represented by Korean street fashion's extreme textual remixing. I want the lookbook to have such an aesthetic consistency that even given the fact that the subjects in the pictures will be in so many various and random poses in front of myriad backdrops, the look will define a kind of connective tissue between the pictures that in most fashion lookbooks from the runway is created through having all the models pictured in the exact same positions on the runway, in the same, exact, highly controlled body positions and poses. 

In short, our lookbook is attempting to provide an aesthetic consistency to highly varied sartorial subjects that would normally be provided through formal consistency in traditional fashion media. So, the look is that of a turbo-boosted reality that resembles life looked at with the Saturation slider pushed half its range up to the right, in which the Real still looks too real, and nearly too much so. It visually gives the feeling that what is being pictured is almost Simulation and not unfiltered reality itself. It's documentary, but feel feels a bit fake. Like the pictures we see on Instagram, and indeed in a variety of mediated forms on the Internet and through our mobile devices,  this reality is heavily filtered. Through filters. Which is why on Instagram nowadays, it's a mark of pride and veritable bravery to post something proudly labeled as #nofilter. we are so used to looking at a heavily filtered, mediated, made up reality that it's hard to look at #unfiltered reality without its makeup on. The goal of this lookbook is to remind the viewer of this layered on hyperreality by photographing in a way that makes everything more enhanced, pumped up, saturated, manicured, curated, and Photoshopped. That's why I like to edit with Instagram filters and frames as my main tools, autosharing and hence saving the "originals" on Flickr as I upload them through Instagram and publish the images to be seen, LIKEd, and hopefully commented upon. I want the images in the Seoul street fashion lookbook to evoke the consciously felt, tingling sensation on the nape of the neck that we live in the world of Baudrillard's Simulation and Simulacra; I want the viewer to feel like something's a little off, in the niggling way one often feels the wash of deja vu that Morpheus told us indicated the existence of a glitch in The Matrix

Hopefully, it's working.

 

On the Inestimably Great Importance of Shooting Seoul "Street Fashion" Slow and Proper

As with anything worth declaring aloud and to a wide audience, it is best to just come out with it, in a straightforward manner. Towards this end, that is what I will do here. Put simply, most "street fashion" photographers at SFW who "shoot in natural light" always do so because they really have little other choice, with that decision being bounded mostly by the fact that they do not, in fact, know how to use a flash properly, let alone creatively, and to positive creative effect.

I came into this game as a photographer and academic doing street phototography as social documentary, and then moved in the direction of documenting what women were wearing as a way of looking at changing gender role norms, the performance of gender in the Butlerian sense, and then at items of clothing specifically. So when I do what are essentiall "environmental portraits" that happen to include take up sartorial concerns, I worry first about the background and then how that background is having a conversation with the subject. I worry about context first, the subject's personality second, and the clothing last. And in the big picture, I am trying to capture something about Korean society beyond just the rags hanging on the subject's body. 

Most of the problem with "street fashion" lies, seemingly paradoxically, in the name, in the emphasis on fashion. It also lies in the fact that most street fashion in Korea is done by fashion-oriented people who, quite frankly, don't know the first thing about a camera. To me, that is a bit suspect. I'm not trying to be a dick about this, but if you're a "street fashion photographer," you should know what shutter and aperture do.  You should know what aperture f-stops do in relation to flash brightness. I don't think this is arrogant to say I think it is all quite reasonable fact, a reality for an ostensible professional photographer, of runway, of street, of documentary, of anything. We forget, all too quickly aand easily, in our rush to be Instagram-famous and respected for one's intellectual or artistic prowess, that the root word of professional or say, a professor, is to "profess"-- in essence, to know something well. Here's my problem with "street fashion photography in Korea, cribbed from the top pictures in a Google image search for "ddp street fashion korea."

Some of these have appeared in Vogue, even. Frankly, as a photographer, I am constantly surprised at how low the standards are for street fashion photography. But I am obviously biased and would feel this way as a photographer with an interest beyond just the clothes, but I still fail to see what's interesting about models -- people who've won the genetic lottery and are in the top 1 percentile of desirability and appearance in society -- wearing clothing that is considered the top of the local field in which they find themselves -- I found it hard to believe that the pictures are so damn boooorrrrrring. It's obviously not the model nor the clothing, so what else is there? 

It's lazy "photographers" who are making the same mistake made in the street fashion photography field in 1990s Japan. In that case, too, people fetishized the clothing, which was often incredibly wonderful and whimsical, but yet, in being focused on the clothing only, it's all we remember about Japanese street fashion. No one remembers the photographers, nor much specifically about Japanese society and culture. And there's a reason for this. It was, in the aggregate and retrospect, a mindless act of slavishly recording pieces of cloth on random human bodies. Amateur street fashion photographers in Korea -- and especially at Seoul Fashion Week since around 2013 -- seem to be engaged in this slavish documentation style of photography. In fact, it would be safe to say that the same thing is happening to street fashion photography as happened to fashion show photography, since there was a major change from the style of small, intimate affairs for a select group of people who had no idea what they were about to see and the photographers who documented the clothing there according to myriad, individual photographic styles, to the present, mechanical style of runway photography in an age of a corporatized fashion industry and the photographers who shoot in its service, with little room for photographic expression and whose main photographic imperative is that of unvaried, robotic consistency for lookbook editors who want each leg at the same angle, an unvarying consistency in lighting, et cetera

Guy Marineau for CHristian Dior in 1998.

Guy Marineau for CHristian Dior in 1998.

An Lie Sang Bong show from Getty Images in 2015. 

An Lie Sang Bong show from Getty Images in 2015. 

Something similar is happening in "street fashion" photography, which is so much about the fashion that it has forgotten that it really isn't done in the street anymore, in any real sense. In the case of SFW, it is telling that this simple and obvious fact is forgotten about as photographers run out to "do street" in a Dongdaemun Design Plaza area that is as far removed from street as imaginable, the "street fashion runway" being a concrete area nestled deep within the complex itself, surrounded is a sea of featureless concrete and steel walls, with only a small window of sky even visible. to provide "natural light." It is just about the worst place imaginable to shoot real, lived culture in the original sense of the "street" that one can imagine. Essentially, the DDP is a hermetically sealed, culturally sterilized zone of spatial homogeneity. Which is exactly why it has become so popular with Korean amateur street fashion photographers, especially in the age of hallyu. This is because hallyu itself privileges cultural commercialization that presents "culture" in hermetically sealed, sterile, semiotically homogenous, stylistically pasteurized packaging that allows for ease and consistency in production, packaging, and even (perhaps especially) its final, finished form. This seems to be why the DDP lower entrance area has become a place popular for "street" fashion photography that isn't anywhere close to the street. This fact reflects a very Korean way of handling cultural packaging and presenting itself to the outside world. Just as with most hallyu cultural products, both the process of production and the final product must be finely and minutely controlled, with almost no room for error, and unfortunately individual creative expression. Because to insert one's on style on the product requires veering dangerously off a safe, well-traveled course, which is uncomfortable and requires a specific confidence enough to do so at least, but also the technical skills to do so as well, which are often quite lacking in the kind of photographer who is not only perfectly comfortable shooting what everyone else is shooting, but actually prefers to do so. 

It nearly goes without saying that I will be comparing the uninspired and mechanical style of street fashion photography in the DDP concrete studio negatively against my own. 

This image is interesting on several levels. First, because girl is wearing her shirt backwards. And second because it totally works. And third, it's fascinating that a Korean 2nd year high school girl is so STUDIED a omin her command of media representat

That being said, my assertion here is not that I am the best street fashion photographer ever, but simply that I am an actual photographer, possessed of the technical skills and inclination to turn random people I meet on the street and the environments in which I find them into powerful images with palpable visual impact and are full of style – a style, my own, in particular – to the point that anyone can look at one of my photographs and say "John Smith took that." Or, "That is defineitely a John Smith picture." That should be the goal of any photographer engaged in real artistic production. And if street fashion photography is indeed an artistic endeavor to any extent, with photographers engaged in it calling themselves professionals with picture that are their signature, one look at a picture should invoke the photographer's name. If you can't do that, you're not doing your job as a photographer. Also, if one looks at an image and can't identify the location (especially in something called "Korean street fashion"), what's the point. Good street photography should be an equal balance of the street (environment) and the photograph (the subject and clothing) in relation to one another. It's what's called an "environmental portrait", after all, and is an old, established genre of portrait. Photographers – doing street fashion, documentary, formal portraiture, whatever – should at least know these basic things. Because it's not just about the clothing and who's wearing them. Because fashion isn't just about clothing; fashion is part of a larger conversation, it is a cultural text, it is about social norms and value, social structures, all in the big picture, defined as what we call culture. If you can't see all that in a street fashion picture taken in Korea, something major is missing. 

Keep boing into sitting girls I think are like some kinda somebody, like some highfalutin', rootin' tootin' high roller, but it turns out to be a high school student who knows how to dress tack sharp and come bask in the fashion Sunshine at SFW. SHE's a f
"This is how we Duier it..."

Since the "street" at SFW has essentially been turned into a runway, there isn't much photographic variation or real, long-lasting creativity. This lack of longevity in the street fashion photography field does not bode well for the prospects of Korean fashion, in the end. And it should be of concern to professional photographers who take either their own creative prospects or the promotion of Korean culture as a central concern in their work. 

This is not what we want, street photography turned into a runway, separated from the street, done out of convenience and to bolster one own's sense of authority as a photographer. In my case, at any rate, this isn't the kind of photography I want to be hemmed into doing. 

Because real street is in the street, not locked in a concrete shooting gallery below ground. And it needs to say something, has to have VISUAL PUNCH

Sometimes people say my pictures are too pregnant with an obvious male gaze. I don't disagree with that. I just don't deny that it's there and I use it to connect with those possessed of a desire to be gazed at. And if one is interested in constructions o

If you're not actually in the street, in culture, in context, and talking beyond just the broader boundaries of mere clothing, you're not saying much that will be remembered after the season is over. And even in within the boundaries of the concrete DDP complex, one can still shoot interestingly:

Keep boing into sitting girls I think are like some kinda somebody, like some highfalutin', rootin' tootin' high roller, but it turns out to be a high school student who knows how to dress tack sharp and come bask in the fashion Sunshine at SFW. SHE's a f

In this age of carefully cultivated and curated identities, politically correct trepidation, the digital discount that the ease and speed of photographic production produces in the value of images themselves, not to mention the commercial incentive to please the most people and get the most "LIKES", along with the mechanization of the productive processes themselves, there isn't much room left for a truly distinctive photographic style anymore, as contradictory as that may sound in a field that deals with fashion. But that's where this all has brought us. Still, any effort to keep things real, especially when looking at fashion items, must be protected. After all, what's the best way to deal with an outfit in which socks and sandals are the main point of the look? You focused on what's important, even as you try to present an aspect of the subject's character and personality in context. And sometimes, this means taking a photographic subject "off the grid" and away from the maddening crowd, lowering the camera to a crazy angle, and letting the shutter fly. And you end up letting an ongoing conversation between colors, character, and composition make a picture pop off the screen. 

Repeat customer this season, Hyeran from yesterday was rockin Dim e Cres to three favorite show that day, the high fashion version of the street brand. Cres E. Dim.  She is quite the fashion trooper. And quite a model. She was deserving of the red carpet