A concrete SEOUL

There is probably no other country on this planet that has achieved more in the period since the second world war than South-Korea. In the fifties, after the Korean War, there were still people starving to death. Today they have surpassed many longtime established regions of the world on the right lane and lost contact in the rear view mirror.

But recently there were social unrests happening in Seoul. They took place in front of the Chanel boutique in Myeong-dong. Chanel had raised the prices of their handbags several times. Korean women had compared them with those prices in other countries and considered them as highly unfair. The police had to monitor the situation.

Nonetheless there are still real social issues existing in Korea. Many older people that are less educated have to work until the last day of their lives. You will recognize the old men pulling their heavy carriages while searching for cardboards left in the streets of Seoul, grandmas working as cleaning women late in the night and from very early on at the markets. Graceful people that laid the foundations of the hyper modern country that is South-Korea today.

If you head over to Gangnam you will face another problem of the Korean capital. Traffic jams entirely made of Porsches, Maybachs, Bentleys and other environmentally friendly cars. The Koreans have achieved so much but it’s still not enough. This is one of the most highly indebted societies in the world. Everybody in the district of Gangnam wants to look like the super chief and he will always drive that car that his bank will allow him under headaches. For men and women there are more plastic surgeries than fast food branches provided in Seoul. Many people loose themselves in their ambitions. For those that cannot keep up with this there are telephones installed on the bridges above the river Han where they can make their last call.

The look of the city is very different from quarter to quarter. Industrial conglomerates like Samsung, LG and Hyundai, the so called Chaebols, that are known across the world for microchips, cars and all kinds of household devices are also very busy with building huge apartment blocks on every single square meter that they can get their hands on. The old quarters of Seoul with their healthy mixture of craft businesses and residential buildings get fenced and discreetly dredged away behind. Block by block. Like currently in the Eulji-ro (Street) area or around the Pet 21 apartment block, a leftover from the sixties. Then the only drug allowed by the Korean government (beside money), concrete, is poured on the empty place. People from the countryside flock to the capital in the hope to find a more exciting life here. And about a third of all households in Seoul are single person households. Both causes lead to the high demand for apartments. That are made as rapid as bird cages in other countries and then are sold to the customers. In some areas in Seoul you cannot see the horizon any longer because of concrete. Even if you stand on an elevated level.

But there are still many very different parts of the city left like Seochon, Insa-dong, Dongdaemun or Mapo where you will still feel as a human citizen, less exploited by conglomerates and taken seriously with your need for a little idyll. There the Hanoks nest, traditional houses made with wood and swung tiled roofs. Its origin lies in the 14th century and today many of them are made with bricks or even glass walls as a boutique store. Time runs fast in Korea and the Hanoks keep pace. Some Mega Design Projects have been dropped like bombs on the city. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza (Zaha Hadid), the Amore Pacific HQ (David Chipperfield) and the Lotte World Tower (Kohn Pedersen Fox), the highest building of South-Korea, replaced whole quarters of the Korean capital. The Lotte conglomerate belongs to the Korean Chaebols and it sells everything from orange juice to apartments. The founder of Lotte, Shin Kyuk-ho, was so touched by Johann Wolfgang Goethes novel „Die Leiden des jungen Werthers“ that he named his company after Lotte who broke the Werthers heart. Around these very designy western style complexes you will still find the city of Seoul playing its beautiful contrasts against them. There are colors and combinations of certain colors that you will only ever find in this city and textures and calligraphies that you never could have imagined unless you found them here. In the great city of Seoul.

This sober description of a 24 million metropole is an exercise in simplicity. Every image is photographed with the same lens, a 70 mm. With architecture there is pretty much always a lack of space. The objects are huge and often there is no possibility to distance yourself from the object. You can either use a wide angle lens that distorts the proportions of the building. Or you tend to use a camera that on the backside of the system offers a wider film/sensor format. These Seoul images are taken with a special architectural camera that provides a digital format more or less equivalent to the traditional 4,5 x 6 cm medium film format as a standard. But the camera also offers the possibility to stitch two images together in a seamless way, resulting in either a 4,5 x 10,5 cm panoramic or a 5,5 x 8 cm format, all photographed in 150 MP. Using these image formats enables to capture a vast scenery even with a moderate tele lens like the 70 mm that will show the actual proportions of the streets and buildings in a very accurate, relaxed and extremely detailed way. The panoramic format for example can be printed 0,9 m x 2,12 m in 300 dpi. The disadvantage: 10 kilograms of equipment on your back.

Seoul, February and March 2023

Greedy Greens and Beasty Buds - Trailer

„Those thorny beasts have stored away a lot of amunition to never fail with their destructive plans. They think of nothing else but to cover the whole planet with roots and branches unless they have killed everything but their own species. Those greens are hell on earth. They will never stop to suffocate your friends and family with pollen and to break their tender bones on slippery autumn leaves. No rate increase will derail this strategy of growth, cause of their existence, the reason for their bad behaviour. They drill like crazy to get the juice out of the ground to fight inflation and feed their greedy branches. They don’t care about the other living beings on this planet, they want to grow at all costs and their strategies to achive the goal are mean and ruthless. Greed is always bigger than fear. Everybody should have a dream - but what if their dream becomes true !

The archetype of the arrogant seedling already tells the story. He seems to be never sleeping, thinking about nothing else than rampant growth. His code of conduct is directly written in his DNA telling him to grasp whatever he can get to build an enormous plant as fast as ever possible to suppress his competitors. They say that you cannot print commodities. But he can. It’s all about coming out on top to suck in all the beautiful sunlight of the day. And to leave less than nothing for the others. He would never reverse course. From the roots to the top he has to built up the required amount of pressure to finally let the beasty buds pop into spring.

These are selfish living beings, derivatives that are weapons of mass destruction and you better dont mess with them. „Le fric, c’est chic !“, but moneys too cheap to compromise them. The vegetable kingdom is a Reich of its own with well secured communication, signs you dont get, strategies that will confuse your simple animal brains and intentions you wont understand until they kill you. It doesnt matter why you are wrong. As soon as you try to fall asleep hairy twigs will creep into your bodys careless openings to breed what your flesh will feed. These images reveal the bad behaviour of those greens that forever will remain a dangerous threat to every brave man. Never enter the kingdom of greens or you will never return home.“

July 2022

KRIEG - The nature of war

„Krieg“ shows the life and death of the Agave plant. Its dramatic appearance is very much concentrated on the mechanical aspects of defense and survival. Coming out of the earth it already stabs in every direction. Then it further grows for many years, establishing even more of its swords for finally reproduce and shortly die thereafter. In its most fundamental aspects the Agave life is similar to ours. Humans would not hesitate to call the Agave plants existence „programmed“ and „determined“. And so are we. Based on the facts of Neurology most of human life runs fully automated. Actually we didn’t take most of what we call our „decisions“.

The archaic creature that we call „Agave“ spends its life being armed like a medieval warrior. Plants cannot choose or change the place of their existence. They have to make the best out of the place they have fallen onto. There they will either defend their lifes or die. They are part of the evolution. Their heavy arming and aggressive gesture is programmed by their genetic code to help them to survive.

This genetic-driven violence, that heatens up the competition among the living beings exists to serve the evolution. Mankind is also part of this mechanism. As far as we know today, it seems that we are nothing more than the hosts of our DNA. It is through us (as the interface between itself and the environment) that our DNA tests its competitiveness, its and our ability to survive as long as possible in different environments that cause different challenges.

The DNA determines not only our body but also our behaviour. This is less about will, it’s more about programming. The system offers no real choice. Because without aggressive behaviour, there would be far less competition, the evolution would rapidly come to its end. This is what lets us identify what our DNA wants us to recognize as our „enemies“. And our „duty“. This is what „Krieg“ is all about.

The narrative of „reasonable“ behaviour is the monologue of mankind. The next global war will challenge our existence. And so will equally the ravage of the planet that until now nurtures us and gives our lungs air to breathe. The freedom of will seems to be the most common of all human illusions. We will never change our behaviour. Because we are not able to do so. Like the Agave plant. Looking like our own behaviour pattern built into Agave flesh.

August 2021