Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Youngsuk Suh

www.youngsuksuh.com


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Youngsuk Suh

"let burn" The title of my project “let burn” refers to an obsolete term used by the US wildfire management authorities in the earlier days of the now widespread practice called the “controlled burn.” Also known as prescribed fires, controlled burns are wildfires set intentionally as part of land resource management. This practice of controlling fire by fire is rooted in the diversification of fire management policies in recent years. The traditional notion of fire as a destructive physical force that needs to be fought against has given way to diverse studies that uncover the complex role of fire in the eco-system and in human civilization. In this view, fire is not a disruptive event in the natural course of events, but part of nature. This attitude is vastly contrasted by most media coverage of wildfire, which often uses incendiary language to ignite fear and extol human heroism in order to produce a saleable news story. My photographs from controlled burns introduce the notion of fire as a complex human measure. As a visual strategy my images primarily focus on the spectacular display of the smoke and the flames, which hints at the images of wildfire presented by the news media. However, the underlying context of a meticulous human control will subvert the expectation of what the images are.