July 29, 2009

Cultural and Architectural Connections Across Space and Time

"Every house in this village is older than your country." Thus explained a Seoul National University architecture student I met while photographing a South Korean folk village in 1986.

This long view of history gives me much needed perspective on the relative immaturity of the United States as a nation, although the 1,000 years of uninterrupted habitation at the Taos Pueblo in Arizona might give pause to my young friend.

Massachusetts boasts many of the first European settlements. Early for a dentist appointment, I stopped to photograph the Town Hall in Hadley, Massachusetts, all gussied up to celebrate the town's 350th year. I am fascinated by flags and chose to focus on the flag pole.

I was thinking stock photography when contrasting this sign's message with the freedom buntings. Before emerging from my car to shoot, I had listened to the last funk notes of Dazz Dazz (Disco Jazz) from the Dazz Band. The upbeat music inspired my visual explorations.

Town Hall

Then bells announcing 7 o'clock pealed at the next door First Congregational Church. Like monks I witnessed at a Buddhist monastery in Vermont who paused during their silent meal each time the telephone rang, I used the clock time chime as encouragement to cease activity and take a deep, meditative breath.

A temporary sign posted by the church noted its concurrent 350th celebration. Church and state, side by side, through time.

This fading church sign lettering evoked the crisp calligraphic scroll strokes I saw in a South Korean museum.

© 2009 John Nordell