Goseong Choi‘s photographs from ‘Woods The Walls And Wells’ are strange, dark sepia toned pictures that take us to the edge of reality, as if a vision from a dream, passing, flittering across the semi-conscious mind, a flicker on the eye before disappearing into the ether. Everyday scenes of the sea and the land, the sky and the earth, draped in a darkness that forces us to peer into them to make sense, to clarify, what we see.
These surreal landscapes are an attempt to articulate the space between reality and illusion, truth and fantasy, the ordinary and the extraordinary. They present us with a timeless place in which everything and nothing can happen, a universality known to all of us yet utterly unknown, distant and unreachable. They’re the spaces we inhabit when we look beyond our everyday reality and into our past and our convictions of what we once saw. What we believe to be true.
Inspired by the death of an unseen mouse in his cupboard Choi was struck by the assumptions he made; the scratching sounds followed by silence, the putrid smell of a rotting corpse and then nothing. It was the presumption of what happened and then the absence of evidence, of verifiable proof of the mouses death that struck Choi as odd. Did he imagine it? Did it happen? This uncertainty led him to question his memories, his sensory experience and led him to create these photographs. Pictures in which time and place do not exist, an unknown space that straddles the border between the physical and the psychological realm. Each image questioning both the presence of what was now absent and the absence of what was once present.
You need to look intently, closely, let yourself be sucked into the images, floating, wandering through a strange surreal land that offers nothing except a mirror for your own feelings and memories, your past and present. Im many ways these photographs encourage you to fly, to be carried on the wind like the birds heading off to sea and into the deep recesses of your unconscious.
They are eerie, strange and thought provoking pictures that question our prosaic reality and insist on our acknowledgement of a land beyond reality, a universe that exists within us. Choi bookends his series with a wonderful quote by one of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami. It’s from one of his most well known novels, ‘Kafka On The Shore’:
Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality-call it an alternate reality-to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this change that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist. But something can happen to sever that chain, and we are at a loss. What is real? Is reality on this side of the break in the chain? Or over there, on the other side?