Monday, August 22, 2011

Visual Assignment 2

The image is a diptych of the side of a building overlooking the Spree. The image on the left was taken on a foggy afternoon soon after our arrival in Berlin, while the right was shot just after sunset a few weeks into the program. The reason I chose these images, taken from the same vantage point, was because I felt that they demonstrated the contrast between reality and fantasy that I experienced during my trip. I remember telling Chandan in my interview that I hoped to find a city that could be my own, in the sense that it would be a cultural escape from the tension between the Korean world of my upbringing and the American world I live in. However, I began to realize that Berlin has many of the same issues that I thought were only present in Seattle. In a more concrete sense, the first picture represents my initial impression of the city. After arriving from hot, beautiful Istanbul, it was a little bit of a shock to arrive in Berlin and see nothing but gray. The beauty of the buildings and our surroundings was a bit muted, and maybe even lost, in that disappointment. However, Berlin did grow on me. I expected to love it from the beginning, but I found that I only began to appreciate and enjoy the city after I started exploring it on my own. (A few sunny days thrown in didn't hurt either.) I had to wait until I had learned more about the city to see the things that I had overlooked. For example, after I read up about the Spree and the Landwehr Canal, I spent a solid afternoon walking along the river, and another day getting utterly lost in the pouring rain in the Spreepark. Seeing things under those weird circumstances, instead of being led around in a fast tour, were much more unique and personal memories for me. (However, I also want to say that I did enjoy all of our tours! It's a good thing, though, to have a good mix of guided and self exploration, I think!)
I also love these pictures because they remind me of how beautiful the city is. I love bridges, and so standing on that bridge and looking out at the river and the darkening sky was just breathtaking, and one of my favorite memories of the city. I love that bridges allow you to stand somewhere and to get a perspective from a place that you would normally be unable to reach. And I feel like I was also able to view the city in a way that took me some time to achieve, but once I found a way of experiencing the city that worked for me, I was able to enjoy it so much more. I feel that these pictures illustrate that progression in me.

Week 5 Video Log

Our program is now over, but this short (and rough) slideshow recaps our last few days in Berlin.