-Interview for 'Tactile Hands' Solo Show (2023)-
Interview Q1. Please introduce yourself, focusing on the theme of your work and your working method.
My works’ sculptural canvas and tactile painting quality illuminate how we meet our world surface everyday by our own sensory system.
Endless up and down waves by my own 'paper seed' units, bold and dense juxtaposition of hand dyed colors, and very mild reflection between the paper architecture units. These elements never stay still.
Massive construction of my own seeds keeps changing in a quiet and constant manner all day long. My own version of this sensory map produces all the revisions of the day, weeks, and seasons.
Our sensory records seem to prove the delicacy and accuracy by recognizing all the changes reflected in the work. However, reversely, the sensory records of all day turn out quite fragile and not trustable enough at the right next moment of the ongoing revisions.
In the end, the inevitable quiet revision does not mean to be 'ephemeral', but decisively loyal to each emotional moment here, now.
제가 직접 만든 수많은 씨앗들이 만들어내는 언덕과 골의 흐름, 색과 명암의 대조적인 병치, 종이의 재질이 만드는 부드러운 반사가 어우러지면, 단단하고 매끄럽게 빛에 반응하는 견고한 물체가 만들어집니다. 이 견고한 물체는 살아 움직이는 생명체를 느낄 수 없는 회색빛 표면을 거부합니다. 시시각각 살아 움직이는 물체가 되고자 합니다.
켜켜이 쌓인 색면입체들은 주어진 공간에 일어나는 빛과 색의 변화를 생물처럼 받아들이며, 그 순간의 시공간과 한몸을 이룹니다. 수많은 색면 씨앗들이 하루 종일 또는 몇 주, 나아가 계절의 극적인 흐름을 담아내면서, 마주하고 있는 시간과 공간의 변화를 담담하고 예민하게 기록하는 지도가 되는 셈입니다.
이 작업은 또한 그 시간과 공간을 오랫동안 마주했던 생물체의 감각을 기록해 놓은 개인적인 기록이자 지도입니다. 이 감각의 지도는 함께 시간과 공간을 겪은 한 개인의 모습을 담아내는 또 하나의 장치인 셈입니다. 마치 우리집 마당에 십년 동안 서있는 나무나, 태어나서 열살이 된 우리집 강쥐처럼 말이죠.
작업 자체에 담겨 있는 형태나 이미지 자체로 더 완성도있는 지도가 될 수 있다고 생각하지는
않습니다. 작품이 존재하고 있고 바라보는 그 순간과 장소에 예민하게 반응할 수 있다면,
그 지점/그 순간에 가장 충실한 하나의 지도가 될 수 있다고 믿습니다.
작품을 되돌아보면, 여전히 또다른 미세한 변화들이 작품 위를 빠르게 가로지르고 있습니다. 개별적인 씨앗들이 또다른 파도를 만들면서 던지는 속도감은 이 변화가 시각적일 뿐 아니라 시간을 담은 생물체로서의 특징이라는 걸 보여줍니다.
Interview Q2. What is the most distinctive feature of your artwork that sets you apart from other artists?
My works function as a live architecture or an ever growing tree, not a static wall hanging. The quality does not come from the infusion or the representation of artists’ thoughts. This presence comes from the instant perception of the ‘liveness’, ‘velocity’, and its ‘growing up’ quality, usually associated with live plant or animal. The works remind us how our sensory experience not only helps, but also betrays the tactile understanding of the world. However, through the betrayal, there opens the next dimension of evolution in the end.
저의 작업들은 벽에 걸린 가만히 멈춰 있는 물체로서가 아니라 매일 조금씩 자라나는 나무처럼 또는 살아있는 구조물처럼 다가옵니다.
이런 특징들은 제가 하나하나 작업마다 그 특징들을 어떻게 불어넣을 것인가 따로 애쓴다고 성취할 수 있는 것은 아닙니다.
제 작업들을 바라볼 때 느끼는 움직일 듯한 기대감이나 숨어있는 속도감, 이런 살아있는 것들과 연결된 특징들은, 우리의 훈련된 생존 감각들이 본능적으로 발견하는 것입니다.
하나의 착각이 아니라, ‘살아있는 것’의 어떤 요소들을 따로 분리해서 경험하게 되는 것이죠.
식물이나 동물을 볼 때 느낄 수 있는, 그 존재들이 가지고 있는 ‘살아있음’, ‘지금도 자라고 있는 듯함’에 가까운 여러가지 요소들이 제 작업에 중요한 셈입니다.
1. The form of your work is dynamic and multidimensional. How do you define the line/spectrum between sculpture and painting, and how do you conceive of your works in relation to those categories?
I take it for granted to categorize my work as a “sculpture,” not because of the appearance but because of the working process. In painting, basically the materials are given. However, in my process, all the materials begin from scratch and are ‘‘sculpted” from scratch in various ways.
The paper itself has our studio-specific formula — how the paper has to be composed during its manufacture. Every single thing has its own unique process regarding dyeing material, cutting processes involving heavy machines, custom frames, etc.
2. Your artworks are highly intricate. About how long does it take to complete each piece? What isthe value of time spent hand-dying and hand-rolling each paper seed?
Depending on the dimensions, the work takes from three weeks to three months. The idea stage can be either a rough sketch or just throwing up tens of thousands of paper units on the canvas. However, the idea has never been about final forms or the final destination. Once started, sculptural aspects dominate. The movement of paper units and color flows throw light into possible new routes separated from the idea stage. Listening to the internal logic of what’s been piled up must be the most important guide of the work process.
Material preparation for the works are like making my own personal tubes to paint them with my hands. The color paper made in factories has very limited range of color. So, from the beginning, the dying process was required and has been developed constantly. As I said, it’s like making my own personal customized color tubes.
All paper is originally white and dyed in diverse kinds of colors for each work. Since hundreds of works have been made so far, there is now a vast library of color paper units in our studio. Another good thing: dyed paper has its own unintended gradation and irregularity, which can be found all over nature. It helps create the different texture and contrast of colors that are quite distinct from the mixture of paint.
After the dyeing process, a combination of different paper sheets are rolled and cut by the required various sizes for each work. Rolled paper becomes extremely durable and you cannot cut it even by a knife. Heavy paper cutting machines are used for the cutting process. People regard paper as fragile, but rolled paper becomes quite close to tender wood.
After the cutting process, the inner parts of each unit are pulled out to make the height of each paper unit. Now, you have ready all kinds of color paper units in different heights.
Regarding glue, all everyday chemical glue becomes very hard right away and begins to crumble after ten to fifteen years. Due to the limit of the chemical glue, our studio developed our own non-chemical glue, which was developed from traditional wheat-based glue. That is why the regular drying process takes ten to fifteen days until completion.
3. The works change, as if moving, as we view them from different angles and distances. For example, in Space Station 4. What is the role of movement in your work, and how does it relate to perspective?
The changes happening in diverse angles and distances relates more to how the work can embrace all of the change happening over time. When you can see multiple perspectives, it clearly questions one dominant perspective you are taking. However, for me, it becomes more crucial how the work can embrace the time-based fluctuation or vortex inside the work and space around the work.
I recall one of my experiences: there was a very curious flight when my airplane passed the exact same region in the morning and in the evening. The same landscape of the region looked completely different due to light, air, and temperature changes. It instantly made me imagine what happened to the same landscape between morning and evening. The stimulus to calculate or imagine the big contrast fascinated me.
The flight experience was applied to the paper relief I was working on at that time. When collections of paper units were piled up on the canvas in our studio, the sunlight used to come through the windows and disappear after one or two hours. The mass of paper units kept showing different looks all day long. I loved how the paper units were able to reflect and embrace all the changes over time within the space.
4. Some of your works, though abstract, are called "portraits"--here I am thinking of, for example, White Portrait 22 (2018). What does "portrait" mean to you?
I’m not portraying a person’s figure but the senses between the figure and me when I encounter the person for the first time. For me, portraits of the otherworldly but also very earthy senses come out at my first encounter and they remain memorable. Although the meaning of the senses can change, they remain as they originally were for me. The portraits are not about “him” or “her,” but about me and the senses they created for me the first time.
5. With the ways that your work changes in response to space and time, what is
the role of the viewer in the process of world-building? Are we implicated in that act?
When the viewers and I admit that our current vision and current thoughts are not the only inevitable ones in a particular moment, I believe we are able to make our lives more fluent and flourishing. However, I try to achieve my work not just by pointing out “your vision is not the only single one,” but by focusing to build an experience embracing all the changes over time and space. This can influence viewers to take a more relaxed, naturally immersive approach to the work within the space, and to build his or her own version of the experience-world.
There is another interesting contrast I would like to build: when standing in front of my works, I’d like the works to feel and look as different as possible from the photo images of the work. We are surrounded by so many channels of flat images, now up to unprecedented levels of image transaction. However, making bigger distances between the image and actual work can be another quite interesting challenge. I’m very curious about the issues around this challenge. My gallerists are often surprised when looking at the works in person after choosing them based on images.
6. What is the role of revision in your process, and how do you conceive of your work going forward?
Many paper or textile artists finish their works in gradual steps based on the initial sketch. The process cannot allow sudden bold turns in the middle steps. My studio runs the process in a complete opposite way. In order to give complete freedom during the middle stages of production until completion, all paper units stay unglued until final stage. They can be rearranged or removed or height adjusted whenever needed. The process allows bold changes to be made even when we are very close to final stage.
Interview by Isabelle Sakelaris