Photographer offers new immersive way of enjoying photography and music

October 12, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) — Stepping into Gallery Benro in central Seoul, big black-and-white portraits of hip hop musician and producer Ray Hill adorn the walls. In front of each photo are headsets on chairs.

The exhibition, “Human, SILENT PHOTOGRAPHY,” by photographer and art director Hwang Pil-joo is not all about photography. It is a new experiment by the photographer to enhance his connection with his subject matter and present a different way of consuming art and music.

Hwang shot the portraits while listening to music created by Ray Hill, who in turn responded to his own music during the photo shoot, sometimes oblivious of the clicking of the camera, other times trying to recreate the feelings that he had while making the music.

"Release the Kraken_1" courtesy of photographer Hwang Pil-joo. (Yonhap)

“Release the Kraken_1″ courtesy of photographer Hwang Pil-joo. (Yonhap)

In the run up to the collaborative project, the photographer had had extensive, in-depth discussions with Hill on the emotions that were put into the music and what ambience and feelings the portraits should exude. The conversation went as deep as Hill’s personal stories, emotions and struggles.

“I wanted to focus solely on Ray Hill as a person. As a form of expression, I hoped to approach and portray him in a minimal way,” Hwang told Yonhap News Agency at the gallery on Friday.

“Hill is a musician whose unique world is in the making, after going through success, failure and confusion. Through the diverse emotions on his face, I wanted to express the desire, effort and futility of them all,” Hwang said.

Photographer Hwang Pil-joo poses for photos after an interview with Yonhap News Agency at Gallery Benro in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

Photographer Hwang Pil-joo poses for photos after an interview with Yonhap News Agency at Gallery Benro in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

The title “Silent Photography” is borrowed from silent disco where people dance to music on wireless headphones, not through a speaker. At the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to put on the headphones to immerse themselves in photography and music in a more intimate way.

Hwang is known for his still-life photography through multiple local exhibitions on the subject. But he has, in fact, shot a lot of commercial portraits since he started the job professionally more than 10 years ago. This exhibition is his first to display purely artistic portraits and his first in collaboration with another artist.

Born to a Korean mother and an American father, Hill lived and worked in France for a while, after his mother got re-married to a French man and moved there. In the European country, his career as a music producer blossomed when the compilation album he participated in became hugely successful. Back in Korea now, Hill is part of alternative hip hop duo, KIMOXAVI, and works as a producer at UniqueTunes Records, established in 2016 to offer global audiences more diverse Korean music.

“This exhibition presents musicians and photographers a new opportunity to share their works,” Kim Hyung-min, CEO of the record company said. “I believe the two genres are now pretty popularized to the point where they sometimes lose their artistic values. Having said that, the collaboration between the two can demonstrate that is not always the case and gives visitors a unique experience.”

The exhibition runs until Monday.