What is the main theme of your works?
I spent my childhood in industrial cities in South Korea that were experiencing rapid industrialization and urbanization. It is probably for this reason that I naturally came to pay attention to themes such as light, darkness, trees, life, and people.
What is the motivation to start “Light, Darkness and the Tree”?
I would like to start with a story about a carpenter who builds houses. Most people begin with a roof when they draw houses. However, the carpenter in this story starts by drawing the ground. This painting was created by a working man and shows the carpenter’s unique roots that others are not aware of. Even though I have studied architecture and worked in this field for a long time, I have never drawn buildings starting from the ground and using the foundation. I have always begun with a roof. Perhaps I have been working without being rooted in the fundamentals. As such, I wanted to determine the most fundamental aspects of my work. I became convinced that light and darkness, as well as life and beauty, should be at the root of my work because they have been the most significant issues for me for a long time. I have decided to tell my story about them.
What is “Light and Darkness”?
I believe that the beauty of an inanimate object depends on its shape. Shape is something visible and is necessarily interlocked with light. In darkness, no shape can be distinguished and shape cannot be distinguished only when there is light. The concept of a “black hall” and a “white hall” that are in an antipodal point cannot exist. I believe that light and darkness and the perilous tightrope between them determines the existence of a shape and further defines the abstract beauty of its fundamental form.
“Light and Darkness” is an intermediary product that explores the most beautiful form that reacts to light and darkness. It is a sincere exploration of the behavior of creating the ideal, beautiful form that light and darkness create as they interlock with each other, and of creating vitality with the light and darkness.
What is “Tree of Life”?
Our reverent and beautiful life is similar to a tree, in which light and darkness coexist. This is because the tree is nature’s ultimate, most beautiful creation, and it is filled with light and darkness. I created the hundreds of objects that constitute “Tree of Life” to contain individual light and darkness. When these individual objects are combined to make the complete form of a tree, by depending on and combining with each other, the light and darkness sublimate into our light and darkness to become a tree that breathes with light and darkness.
Life does not consist only of brightness nor is it full of darkness. We can feel the weight of darkness because of the existence of light and we can also feel the joy of light due to the presence of darkness.
The light and darkness that are cast on the tree change according to the movement of light. The part that once shone brightly and warmly becomes covered by darkness, while the deeply dark space begins to gradually shine. This tree of life is where light and darkness coexist and represent our humble and beautiful lives, which simultaneously possess the brilliance that is expressed in love, joy, pleasure, and happiness, as well as darkness that is conveyed in sadness, anger, despair, and frustration.
How do you develop your work?
In the case of “Light and Darkness” and “Tree of Life”, I developed the pieces by elaborating on my writing. This is because writing can sometimes be very abstract and sometimes be extremely concrete. By polishing the writing several times, I materialized the thought behind the work in a written piece and developed the work through the process of visualizing what I had written.
What is “Passage of Time?
Photographs visualize the reflection of light. Since light is so fast, photographs contain a record of a mere instant. "Passage of Time" challenges this concept because it attempts to capture the flow of time rather than a moment by a camera. This is because the flow of time can prove and specify the abstract vocabulary of life.
What is “Sideness”?
"Sideness" expresses the flow of time by using an actual space and a projected space. In a photograph, space is reinterpreted as something filled by time. To fill the space with the flow of time rather than a moment, the camera simultaneously records the movement of virtual space where the movement of the real space is reflected/projected on the surrounding objects, while following the movement of the real space. Reflection/projection is the movement of light, that is, the flow of time. To visualize such a movement of light (the flow of time) more accurately, the camera divides the actual space and the reflected/projected space into a strong contrast.
What is “Birth and Death”?
"Birth and Death" is an exploration of the birth and extinction through my sculpture, “Light and Darkness”. “Light and Darkness” is an object made by the vocabularies of light and darkness. According to the rotation of the axis of time (flow), the existence of this object sometimes dies because of the darkness and sometimes proves itself with light. That is, it specifies the vocabularies of birth and death through the flow of time by using light and darkness. The camera records the footsteps of time where "Light and Darkness" dissipates and resurfaces.
What camera do you use?
I used a Fuji X Pro-1, X-T10, Leica D-lux 3 and iPhone.
What is “Diary between Light and Darkness”?
“Diary between Light and Darkness” is a space where I express the emotions that I feel in daily life through my sculptures and record them in photographs to store. It can be thought of as the most private space online.
What is “HAWIN / How Architecture Works IN”?
HAWIN (How Architecture Works IN) is my original concept as an artist who appreciates approaching art work critically, from an architectural viewpoint. I believe that Architecture cannot be considered separately from humanity and the natural environment. Moreover, it should always integrate the principles of form and space. In this way, architecture forms the basis that defines and develops my work, which is based on the concepts of light, dark, time, and life.
I aim to depict in detail how my pieces can respond to and reflect a problematic environment that modern society will inevitably face. I want my works to further develop through stronger critical thinking about the problems of our modern society including issues, such as overpopulation, environmental pollution, exhaustion of natural resources, and ever rising living costs due to urbanization and industrialization.
You studied architecture. Why did you choose to work with sculpture, photographs, and videos?
While working on diverse pieces that are seemingly different, I can see how all the works are interconnected and are integrated into one. The “Light and Darkness” and “Tree of Life” projects are very architectural. Different from art that merely pursues form, each small object possesses an inner space that allows for different functions. Through the functions of these inner spaces, the objects are combined and assembled. I believe that photographs and videos have unlimited potential for the future of my art, since the former are ideal media for visualizing light and darkness and the latter can record the flow of time. In my art, architecture, photography, sculpture, and video all play the role of exploring light and darkness, life, and people, despite their differences in size and tools.
Are there any other artists who inspire you?
Sebastião Salgado’s photographs help one see the problems of modern society with brutal clarity. Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures make one reflect on the fundamental problems of human nature in contemporary society. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs suggest a blueprint for my theme of the exploration of light and darkness. Jae Hyo Lee’s sculptures provoke one to profoundly investigate changes of size through segmentation and assembly. Pink Floyd’s music evokes challenge and progress, and Sigur Ros’ music and videos show how music, images, paintings, and video can be in perfect harmony. Wes Anderson’s movies reflect the beauty of color, perfect composition, and warmth. Louis Kahn’s buildings demonstrate how architecture can perfectly show light and darkness. Finally, my dear teachers, Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, taught me how important it is for an artist to deal with sincerity in his/her works.
Are your works pure art or something else?
I am not sure exactly what art is. However, I believe that we should not define art by limiting its meaning to something that was created by artists or, more importantly, something created by a famous artist. A scarecrow that an anonymous farmer carefully created to stand in his/her field can sometimes make the surroundings more beautiful and pleasant than a meaningless doodle by a famous artist.
As Niggle puts life into painting one leaf to draw a tree filled with vitality in Tolkien’s short story, “Leaf by Niggle,” art should be born from the endless elaboration and efforts of an artist. Moreover, its uniqueness, value, and meaning should be evaluated according to the consensus of the time in addition to the sublime efforts of the artist.
If so, what is good art for you?
I think art is the only thing that can be evaluated by its procedure, rather than its results. Everything else seems to be evaluated by its outcome. Only art seems to be evaluated within the context of the artist who created it. I believe this must go on. For example, a painting might look like a meaningless scribble on a canvas. When looking at it within the context of the artist’s life and his/her work, we can decide whether it is a meaningless scribble or a valuable painting.
Do you have any project planned for 2016?
I am planning to materialize the tree project on a larger scale. Working with a different size will definitely provide me with a lot of valuable experience. For the last two years, I have focused solely on creating pieces. I am planning an exhibition for 2016, where I can directly show my pieces to people and communicate with them.