For much of my life I have made my home in the country, in park-lands as a ranger and firefighter where I track the flitting of birds, the flaming of forests. Yet in my travels — to reach the faraway and un-crowded places that are the gravitational pull of my planetary search — I am becoming a man of the cities. These are my gateways to wild places but I am also drawn to the motions of people and traffic so strange from my own.
Today, in Seoul in the Republic of Korea, I’ve sought to make my place in a city’s motion. Because I am a tool-user I have cheated time and captured motion with (e)motion, the electronic tools embedded in my phone. And as the time-twists collect I have learned one key emotional lesson: changing time can change us. I see myself both fast and slow and wonder, if I can slow time with a tiny tool like a computerized smart phone, what else can we do to the otherwise pleasant passing of time.
Exhibit #1: For my first exhibit of (e)motion-time I observe compressed time from a fourth floor coffee shop (Coffee with a View) overlooking the military base and a key intersection near Insadong. Which shows me that some lanes are slower than others, and that pedestrians seem to run (wisely) from vehicles.
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Exhibit #2: As observed in traffic, there are zones of calm in fast motion. Here, outside a train station, a crew cleans the stairs decorated with an extra-large human. And the only calm and collected human, consistent among the buzz, is another photographer, intrigued by the large image and the people cleaning this giant.
Exhibit #3: At my WWOOF guest house in Bukshan village, my host Helen looks at something hovering in her flowers and asks, “A bird.” I say no, it’s a hummingbird moth. And I try to follow it, in slow motion. For the first few seconds I’m too slow but then I catch up with the moth and realize, even in the quickest city one can find the plentiful slowness of the natural.