An Instant Film Mosaic of North Korean Media
Chris Barrett is a photographer, researcher and internationally exhibited artist based in the UK. He splits his time working on long form news stories and more conceptual related projects specialising in Far East issues and matters related to contemporary news gathering techniques. He has previously had work featured on the BBC, Telegraph and The Guardian websites while also providing research and material to the Thomson Reuters Foundation along with contributing to the online North Korea specialist news and analysis website NK News.
To what extent does the way we receive and perceive images in the digital era effect the transmission and circulation of ideas, ideologies and forms of knowledge? Does ‘media massification’ pose any ramifications in regards to the current communication climate being a place where ‘the world comes to us, not us going out to the world’.
In contemporary living, more than ever, we are influenced and exposed to ‘soundbites’, clickbait, playlists and ‘likes’. We can comment, we can share, we can troll or even set up our own news outlets in an instant. We can achieve all this from a mobile device in the palm of our hand, taking charge of a narrative or even creating our own.
Icons of Rhetoric is a text and image project that merges established media practices with more contemporary ones. Creators, photographer Chris Barrett and researcher/writer Gianluca Spezza, introduce us to the often-cited ‘most isolated country in the world’, North Korea. They do this in order to explore visual representation and the contextualisation of media images. Their work seeks to not just contextualise North Korean culture, it also considers the perspective of what the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, ‘DPRK’ [조선] tells its own citizens.
“It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.” ― Jean-Luc Godard
By reinterpreting images that already exist in the public domain, the work plays on an aesthetic of authenticity. It objectifies a notion of perception while using instant film as a conduit for exploration into a visual syntax, a syntax that frames an increasingly polarised and digitally dependent world.