Critic's Note: Man Begot Light, and then Flow
Light is attractive for artists. Since the Impressionists’ interest in light reflected images of objects and the world, followed by artists like Man Ray who searched the interiors of objects using light, artists have closely scrutinized and exposed contemporary man existing in a time that has become nearly ambiguous where distinctions between day and night has become blurred, a hybrid time in cities enveloped by artificial light with the advancement in science and technology.
Light is a medium that enables our vision to realize this world, and we can perceive an object with any clarity only when there’s light. Therefore light is inseparable from time and as we perceive the world through time, time is also the object of fascination for artists.
Jin Siyon has seriously incorporated LED in his artwork since 2008. In his work titled Wave, the filmed images of sunrise and sunset over the ocean were simultaneously projected in the format of LED sculpture. There may have been several reasons for incorporating LED into his work, of which the most important would be the artist's formatting of the ocean to autonomously lit and move. That is, the three dimensional structure required the use of LED to generate form, light, and motion. The palpable ocean is not a laminated mirage reflected on our retina, but a touchable and reachable entity that is visualized through artificial lighting.
Investigation of man formed out of light
Firstly, hitherto artistic representations of light as meaning have symbolized man as an entity of light, recorded and edited his movements, and thereby expressing the currents of light movements. The roots of such an approach can be found in the recent developments in social networks. Represented foremost by Facebook, social networks have already conquered existing confines of physical space, and people on earth are now connected in real time by new online networks. Such novel relationship mappings have become a starting point to plot the course for the artist’s ‘humane’ viewpoints. Furthermore, the artist has begun to interpret individual beings as ‘light.’ The motions of one individual and the relationships derived from human liaisons, the connections between man and the world are represented as traces of light.
This was realized by such works as the media facade artwork using LED from 2010 titled, Sign1, which was further developed in Sign2 and Sign3. In the Sign1 series, the first examples of visualizing light as a human figure were Sign1_Lotte Department Store Media Facade_2010; Sign2_Single channel Video_2010; and Sign3_Seoul Square Media Facade_2010. And the first example of clothing a performer with LED costume and recording his movements started with Sign2 and Sign3. He then moved on to present traces of his data. The motions of the performer are expressed through movement and traces of light to create meaningful “relationships.” What’s interesting is that the artist appropriated a dance format to represent human motion. The artist uses dance which is motions of one individual as well as the body language used to communicate with the world, and an art of instinctive motions to record the motions of light in an attempt to analyze human existence. Thereby Jin Siyon uses the most natural and beautiful of human movement in expressing motion and traces of light to represent modes of connecting between man and his world.
Synthesis of Artificial and natural light
Another interesting aspect is the research into visual effects of light which the artist explores by synthesizing LED as artificial light and mother-of-pearl as natural light. The application of mother-of-pearl as a medium to experiment with visual effects may seem problematic considering the contextual complexity of mother-of-pearl; prone to oversimplification for its sensual visual effect and its connotations as a tradition-bound medium. But as the artist has continued to work with exploring the natural in technology, his choice of mother-of-pearl fits into place. Can the vivid and glaring artificial light harmonize well with mother-of-pearl’s natural light, or will it be totally outdone by artificial light? All these doubts have been answered by the form and shapes created by light, and the harmony and balance reached by arrangement. The dimensions of the monitor frame crafted out of mother-of-pearl have been adjusted to eye level, and the light projection is channeled above the frame. Harmony is reached by safeguarding the shapes and visual effects of each.
The artist’s experimentation with visual effects of light began with Wave from 2008. This LED projected image of sunrise and sunset used video recorded images of natural light with LED artificial lighting. That is, natural light is recorded with technical media and then projected through LED artificial light, whereas his most recent work records the movements of LED light which is represented together with naturally transmitted light. The artist is undergoing diverse experimentations with the visual effects and meaning of natural and artificial light use, which is not limited to experimenting with sensory dimensions of light but a study of the correlation between man's technological medium and nature.
Light has various contextual references for the artist. Light itself is the expression of man’s beautiful energy. The traces of light are like the shadows of the beautiful energy between mankind, and man and nature. At the same time, it is also the transporter that brings harmony between nature and manmade technological civilization. Such dramatic experimentation with light utilizes a diverse range of technological medium which have become the artist's tool to construct his uniquely personal output.
by Woo, Seon Mi
Collection: Gwangju City
Artist's Education: Pratt Institute, School of Art and Design. NY, USA. M.F.A., New Forms Chosun University, Korea. B.F.A. & M.F.A., Ph.D.