Korean artist Sungseok Ahn was shocked when he paid a visit to Seoul, Korea. Many of the historical landmarks he had studied about had transformed into bright and shiny skyscrapers over the years.
These emotions inspired Ahn to create the art project “Historical Present.” The idea behind the project was simple. Ahn projected an old image of a popular site onto its current state. The pictures were usually taken at sunrise or sunset when the light is ideal for beaming.
Ahn got the black-and-white photographs of Seoul in it’s former state from an old picture book that was published by the Japanese government when Korea was under imperial Japanese rule. His projections have framed Seoul’s best known and historic surfaces such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Great South Gate.
Using this method of “time traveling” and showing us both the past and present of South Korea, Ahn allows us to “question the way we treat our history and explores the dynamics between space and time at the same time.”
Ahn says this project is about “the “psychological void that emerges as we live our lives forgetting.” He adds that the project is a reminder that “someday…we’re [all going to disappear] likes people in old pictures. Things change and we’re gone.”
Though his words are sad and clearly mourning the past, the photographic in “Historical Present” are nothing short of beautiful.