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Creative Clunes, 2015
Watch as photographer William Yang and South Korean photographer Koo Bohnchang create new images inspired by the Clunes-born photographer George Rose.
Koo Bohnchang: George Rose visit Korea 1904. That’s the year of war between Russia and Japan, and Korea already slowly colonized by Japan, and so George was just coming into Korea in very critical situation, politically. Japanese on the street, and Korean also on the street. And how the Japanese, they made the shops, and they built electricity. And really, that’s the moment that Korea change into colonization.
Koo Bohnchang: You should move a little bit --
Librarian: Yeah. Move it in and out.
Koo Bohnchang: -- to get a good position for you.
Koo Bohnchang: This famous gate in Seoul.
William Yang: Is that of the Imperial Palace?
Koo Bohnchang: No, it’s actually South Gate.
William Yang: Oh, South Gate, okay.
Koo Bohnchang: Seoul is a old city; we were surrounded by the wall. And only through the gate the people could go into the city.
William Yang: So, this is the first time I’ve actually seen his photos.
Koo Bohnchang: I also, yeah.
William Yang: He’s very prolific.
Koo Bohnchang: Mmm.
William Yang: He took a lot of photos. We take a lot of photos now with a digital camera.
Koo Bohnchang: Mm-hmm.
William Yang: But he took a lot.
Koo Bohnchang: One of picture that I like the most is three literati in front of their village. In the background there are pine tree; in Korea pine trees very twisted, and then it’s not a straight – like in Australia. After 110 years, I’m happy that I could visit here, Clunes again, as if George Rose did in Korea.
William Yang: So, this is a nice location.
Koo Bohnchang: Yes.
William Yang: I think my photography is different from George Rose. His photographs are very distant. He’s looking at a distance, at his subjects. And I don’t think he had the equipment then to get in close. Like, I haven’t seen very many domestic interiors, for example, in his work. That’s a aspect, say, of my project in Clunes that I’m interested in, domestic interiors. I feel that I’ve stepped into a community here, a ready-made community. And so, for example, I’ve enjoyed photographing the meals that we’ve shared with people who’ve invited us into their homes.
William Yang: You’ve got a beautiful place.
Host: Well, thank you.
Guest: Thank you. Cheers, Richard.
Guest: Thank you. Very nice.
William Yang: Where is your orchard?
Host: Out there. Just out there.
Koo Bohnchang: I’m interested in many subjects, not only landscape, but also I am interested in objects, sometimes human portrait. For me, always the moment that the photographer, myself, gaze into an object, the still moment – how can I prolong the still, maybe, communication between me and other object? It’s very important. And also, I’m looking for always some kind of traces in landscape, or in object.
For example, this is a book.
Gold miner: Yeah?
Koo Bohnchang: With used soaps.
Gold miner: Okay.
Koo Bohnchang: I made a series, as my personal works.
Gold miner: Okay.
Koo Bohnchang: Something like that, like a object.
Gold miner: Okay.
Koo Bohnchang: I would like to shoot each one –
Gold miner: Yeah? Yeah?
Koo Bohnchang: As a kind of very special stones. And it’s a really wonderful chance in Clunes that I found real –
Gold miner: Real gold.
Koo Bohnchang: Real gold.
Gold miner: Yeah. Right.
That’s a 26-ounce piece of gold in its natural form. It was found at about 18 inches down, in red clay.
William Yang: If an image is completely self-explanatory, maybe I’ll, I’d leave it at that. Or, maybe, if I explain what the photograph is, it takes away from the mystery of the image. But usually, there’s a context and a story about it. And often, my writings have got a poetic side to them. So, I’m actually writing little poems about the image, as well. And that’s like a Chinese tradition, in their brush paintings; they’ve always got a poem with them.