How to feel time’s presence when a king dies? Infinite moments collect, reverberating in my teeth. The back of my jaw grits closed from sadness, while the curtains of my cheeks push out an empathic smile.
It’s the same tight smile received whenever the King’s name appears here in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok.
Yes, indeed, the eyes do tighten and see things differently when someone loved is gone. Suddenly, collective visions and experiences vibrate with absence, as if realizing a single puzzle piece is missing and perhaps irretrievably lost forever. The air seems painted in ripples. Not so much like a stone cast into a lake but rather how water curls and follows ducks or paper boats on a slow steady river; the wake of water from those who journey on it, the wake of King Bhumibol in the city’s spirit, the wake of grace, dignity and humanity in the hearts of the Thai people. I allowed the wakes to guide me. They spoke in waves of light and said: “Push past the layers behind the laundromats, mannequins, and flowers – be open and free.” I was photographing like a kite in the wind whose line was cut loose by something stronger than myself. Thoughts of the king and his city tightened and squeezed my eyes into diamonds, showing me everything was priceless.
To Bangkok: No one truly disappears when they fall into the timeless river. They live under the surface, ready to reflect the depths of character for those who traverse it. Reach into the water and retrieve the puzzle piece – it’s not misplaced – it still remains within grasp. There is an invisible silken string that weaves the multiple facets of Bangkok’s soul together in an unbreakable net. It catches everything and nothing is truly lost. Tied together, our hearts beat immeasurably in the boundlessness of now; in the boundlessness of time’s presence.
Argus Paul is an emerging photographer with an MFA in Studio Arts, currently based in Seoul, South Korea. As a Korean-American who grew up in a rural area near Charlottesville, Virginia, Paul has a unique perspective of Korean identity and its relationship to both global and regional communities. His street photography seeks out and investigates the unseen, unacknowledged citizens of Seoul: cosplay groups, back-alley wrestlers, and underground drag queens. Meanwhile, by having documented the notorious Sewol Ferry Tragedy of 2014 and also the loss of a close family member, Paul has had humbling and life-changing opportunities to explore the subjects of death, grief, and loss on both an international and personal scale.