Eng | Kor


I am a multi- and interdisciplinary artist who fuses traditional art with modern technology. The dimensionality of my artistic views has deepened as I journeyed through an artistic evolution. My transition from the static realm of paintings to the more dynamic and interactive performance arts is deeply rooted in my training in samulnori (a Korean genre of ensemble percussion music). The melodic and stark notes from different instruments typically found in the genre, as well as the dancing complementing the tunes, are the source of its great appeal. Discovering a delicate mixture of distinct opposites, one can find both harmony and tension in samulnori. Infusing similar themes into my art work, I utilize technology to interweave music, images, and dance so that the elements communicate with one another. These technological interactions are an outward manifestation of my belief in Taoism, an Eastern philosophy which holds that opposing forces are actually one and the same. 

The breadth of my disciplinary exposure - from drawing to composition to programming - culminated into performance art because this art form is viscerally immediate as it is evocative, making it possible to establish an intimate bond with the audience. Every element of performance art, including engagement, openness, uncertainty, media art, and even the performer, and the combinations of those elements can be construed as delicate experiments to close the distance between the artist and the audience. With this form, I choose to investigate the relationship amongst people, seeking the emotional tie that weaves the social fabric of our world. The interplay among touch, sounds and images imbued in my work is one of the core artistic elements that metaphorically break and reveal the stories of those silenced and abandoned in our communities. Through this connection between “I and thou (you),” made possible via art, I yearn to empathize with others. 

Two of my art series strongly hint at my resolve to incorporate audiences and collaborators into my work, a visual metaphor highlighting the presence of a dialogue rather than a monologue. “Performing with YOU” is a series of performances I collaborated with multiple dancers, musicians, and actors. Each performance was based on parts of the same story, “Ten Bulls,” a series of short poems from Zen tradition illustrating the progress toward enlightenment and sharing of wisdom and compassion. “Drawing you by your 12 words” is a series of works where undisclosed audience members submitted recordings of their voice speaking only twelve words. Having played the Gayagum, a Korean traditional zither with twelve strings - an apt metaphor for the twelve months in the year - I was inspired to use the number 12 to poke at the concept of the seasonal flow in life. Then, I drew their faces only based on the vocal recordings of these anonymous participants. according to a pre-recorded twelve word vocal recording of each audience member. “The face is a living presence; it is expression.” said Immanuel Levinas. 

A significant turning point in my work was in 2014, when I crossed paths with a mother who lost her son in a tragic disaster. After hearing the heartbreaking story, when I hold her hand for condolences, I experienced a gush of strong empathy (Einfühlungsvermögen). Weirdly enough, through that brief yet visceral connection with the mother, I felt truer to myself. Martin Buber stressed, "All actual life is an encounter." By encountering her (“You”), the existential meaning of my life (“I”) was brought to enlightenment. 

After this encounter, I began to use the body as a medium of communication between I and thou (you). In my work, I leverage the conductive properties of the human body as the main vehicle for stimuli. A universal gesture of two people holding hands can trigger an action or presentation within my work. It is in that split moment when the touch among people translates into a sensory response, an emotional eruption occurs between them. I believe God exists in moments of such strong kinship. “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them,” wrote Buber. Such performance experiments on empathy, connection, and human touch are a major theme in my art practice today. I continue to probe the various types of encounters existing among people, between I and thou (you), to discover a melodic rhythm in life, just like the ongoing ebb and flow of a tide.

The world is torn asunder by refugee issues, terrorism, drastic economic inequalities, disruptions in the social fabric of society due to rapid progress, and much more. Sadly, pain is sometimes polarized, causing a drift among us. For instance, how are we to react to the pain of a refugee? How can we comprehend, and to go even further, empathize with such pain? As an artist, I believe I am within reach to create an artistic medium to fill the void - to engender solidarity. Above all, I want my art to be a source of small comfort, for you because we are all hurt in some way.  

As every wave the ocean brings to shore once again recedes, I believe that in voicing sorrow and resisting injustice, sorrow will ultimately give way to joy, resistance to peace. The existence of one extreme always gives way to its opposite, both in nature and in the heart.