In his photo series Historic Present, Seoul-based artist Sungseok Ahn projects an image of the past on a screen placed in front of the same present-day location, overlapping past and present, history and modernity, and space and time. Through these images, we can track how much historical sites have changed. Ancient structures are replaced with sleek facades made of glass and steel; worn dirt paths have given way to smooth roads; old temples and towers have become untouchable to the public, protected by barriers and fences.
According to the artist, his photos explore “the memory of past from the fast changing scenery of today.” Historical legacy and heritage are not immune to the effects of urbanization and modernization. Ancient landmarks change or disappear in the midst of glittering city lights, flashy cars, and paved roads. Ahn says, “[the series] questions the way we treat our history and explores the dynamics between space and time at the same time.”