Interview for Unseen Magazine (2014)
Q: What does your fascination in creating images comes from?
A: My fascination lies in the simple fact that I 'can' create images. It is a thrilling experience to have the authority, which photography has empowered me, to (re)create the images presented in front of my eyes. In that sense, taking photographs is an act of reclaiming the ownership of my vision, which has been formed without my permission from the very moment I opened my eyes. Therefore I can say that the process of creating photographic images is like a ritual, which consists of a series of actions, with the purpose of celebrating my reclaimed power and status in the system of visual perception.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about the work you'll be showing at Unseen?
A: It is a part of my new body of work 'Three Faces Two Places One Device'. Three faces mean my parent’s and mine, two places mean my parent's living room and the empty plot they bought for themselves, and one device is a camera. I assigned the images of the former five elements to the structure of camera by attaching them to camera-shaped wooden toys, whose circular center parts are interchangeable much like lens. It has begun with a simple idea that my parent’s faces are like a camera where countless memories are stored and deposited in a form of sedimentary layer.
Q: Your work Where is Mom and Where is Dad does point out a personal story, a heritage. Is this new work as personal?
A: I believe every artist’s works could be assumed personal to a degree but the difference occurs upon where the emphasis lies among the various aspects of each work. In my case, I enjoy my personal stories being shaped in a highly coded visual language like the state of dreams as dreams often tell more truths than conscious minds. In this sense, yes, the new work is also very personal.
Q: Most of your work is shot in Korea, your home country, but you lived in the UK for many years, how does your work reflect those cultural differences?
A: I've lived in the West and the East back and forth for more than 10 years. Over the period, I've gotten used to both cultures almost equally to a point where it doesn't concern me anymore. I embrace both as part of my life as they have influenced me to be who I am of now. Obviously, my work would reflect this particular history of mine but it has not been the essence of it. Cultural differences may naturally transude through the visual elements in my images but I have not played with this aspect in any conscious way. My only conscious intention is to reach the deepest part of my subconscious through the practice.
Q: How important is it to be a good storyteller in photograph?
A: A group of photographs may appear to have a structure of narrative but i don't think this particular medium is the most appropriate envelop to deliver stories. Yes, there is a family story behind my work but it is not the story that I am presenting but what is important are the dynamics between images. I often adapt the structure of narrative to contextualize my images in order to build more channels to step into, but it is different from storytelling in its traditional sense. When photography is exempted from the burden of storytelling, it seems to open far more possibilities as a creative medium of art.
Q: When you present your work, you use very originals materials and exhibiting-methods. Is this the most appropriate way to show your work as a whole, in an exhibition-space? Or do you use other platforms just as good?
A: My strategy of installation is to bring questions to my viewers on how to experience my images not only visually but also bodily. I try to imply invisible routes to take or particular behaviors to perform in the quietest and gentlest way possible in an exhibition space. By doing so, I hope the physically relational aspect of photography to be addressed more evidently than on the level of images as it can be a critical lead to understand the dynamics between the photographer and the subject. Unfortunately, I have not had any opportunities to apply these ideas in other platforms such as books yet but recently become highly interested in more