Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Millennial Artist: Jee Young Lee's Stage of Mind

Resurrection. Image Source: My Modern Met.

Caption for the above photograph: "Inspired by the Story of Shim Cheong, a Korea folktale as well as by Shakespeare’s Ophelia, Lee JeeYoung made this installation by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice in order to create a mystic atmosphere.
Lotus flowers grow from the impure mud to reach for the light and bloom to the rise and fall of the sun; in Asia, it bears various cultural symbolisms such as prospects and rebirth. It is also known for its purifying function. The presence of the artist in the heart of such flower is meant to convey her personal experience. 'I was born again by overcoming negative elements that had dragged me down and cleansed myself emotionally. The figure within a lotus blooming implies a stronger self who was just born again and is facing a new world'. It is this is very moment when one reaches maturity and full-potential that Lee illustrates in 'Resurrection', and, more generally speaking, throughout the entirety of her corpus."

My Modern Met reports on a South Korean Gen Y artist, Jee Young Lee, who creates beautiful interiors (hat tip: Ken Kaminesky):
Jee Young Lee creates highly elaborate scenes that require an incredible amount of patience and absolutely no photo manipulation. For weeks and sometimes months, the young Korean artist works in the confines of her small 360 x 410 x 240 cm studio bringing to life worlds that defy all logic. In the middle of the sets you can always find the artist herself, as these are self-portraits but of the unconventional kind. Inspired by either her personal life or old Korean fables, they each have their own backstory, which of course, only adds to the intense drama. From February 7 to March 7, 2014, OPIOM Gallery in Opio, France ... present[s] a selection of Lee's ongoing body of work called Stage of Mind.
Further from Brain Factory:
This exhibition introduces seven new photographic works ... a project on which the artist has been working continuously since 2007. Jee Young Lee “constructs” scenes for her camera rather than employing the traditional method of “taking” images such as still lifes, figures, or landscapes. ...
Lee's artistic motivation derives from her quest for personal identity. In each of Lee's stories, the artist is the protagonist. At times facing away from us, at other times showing only part of her body or reclining, she quietly and mysteriously inhabits her dream-like realms. Through their bold materials and patterns, dramatic colors, and intriguing narratives, Lee's new works signal maturity, coherence, and sophistication. The legends of East and West, Korean proverbs, personal childhood experiences, and immediate realities provide the motifs for her creations. ...
Lee's constructed realities belong to the “directorial mode,” employed since the 1980's by Postmodernist photographers in repudiation of the Modernist practice that sought truth in the everyday world. Lee's “constructed image photography” may be compared to the works of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, who builds life-sized models he intends to demolish after photographing them. Her “staged photography” brings to mind tableaux vivant not unlike U.S. installation artist and photographer Sandy Skoglund's orchestrated room-size installations. But in contrast to these earlier artists, Lee's subjects are deeply personal and intensely psychological.
See more of Jee Young Lee's works below the jump and at this site. All works are copyrighted by the artist and are reproduced here under Fair Use.

Childhood. Image Source: Bored Panda.

Treasure Hunt. Image Source: My Modern Met.

Caption for the above photo: "Treasure Hunt is based on the artist’s childhood memories. Lee devoted three months to crafting the lush multitude of wire leaves – it evokes a child-like wonderland."

Broken Heart. Image Source: My Modern Met.
Caption for the above photo: "Broken Heart makes visual the Korean expression 'like breaking a stone with an egg' – an ineffectual effort against insurmountable adversity.

I'll Be Back. Image Source: My Modern Met.

Caption for the above photo: "This piece is based upon a Korean fable in which a tiger chases desperate children into a well. A god lowered a rope from the sky by which the child escaped, but when the tiger cried out for help, a rotten rope was lowered, condemning the tiger to a miserable fate. Painted traditional fans are meticulously arranged as a whirlpool, while a hand emerges from its eye to grab a rope hanging down from above; hope can save oneself from even what can appear as the most desperate situation.

My Chemical Romance. Image Source: My Modern Met.

Caption for the above photo: "Many pipe lines crawl on the building walls of the artist’s neighborhood in Mangwondong (Seoul). Forming checkered and intertwined structures, rather than being merely straight, pipes creep up the exterior of a building and connect each space within it; whether for gas or water, they play a delivering-in-and-out role and function as a sort of passageway. From this angle, they appear to the artist as elements of nervousness and danger which she associates with social interactions and communication. Complicatedly intertwined, much like a maze or obstacles in a hurdle race, they remind her of the potential misunderstanding, anxiety or disappointment to which misunderstandings can lead to. The difficulty of such interactions is highlighted by the black and yellow PVC pipes, usually inherent to danger warnings in industrial sites or traffic and road signs. In addition, steam generated by a fog machine connected to the pipes symbolizes the moment of conflict and clash in relationships and communication. A black dog slowly walking out of the frame in this autobiographic piece indicates a specific person who inflicted pain onto the artist. Or, as she suggests, it may represent others in general as opposed to the woman in the back, who is the artist herself."

Birthday. Image Source: My Modern Met. 

Food Chain. Image Source: My Modern Met.  

Nightscape. Image Source: My Modern Met.  

Black Birds. Image Source: My Modern Met. 

Caption for the above photo: "As Hyewon Yi, Director and Curator of Amelie A. Wallace Gallery states, 'Drawing upon prodigious powers of imagination, she labors for months to create effects that seem to expand and contract physical space. And always, a lone figure inhabits and completes her narratives. Jee Young Lee assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, performer, installation artist, and photographer – and she executes them all magically.'" 


  1. Interesting stuff, Tam B!

    Oddly enough, what bothers me about the all the images, is the somewhat cliche and gratuitous inclusion of the human figures throughout. They look like afterthoughts.

    1. Then again, maybe "gratuitous" is too harsh a word. Perhaps, what I meant is that the spaces, the scenes themselves are comprehensible enough, without the inclusion of a figure. The spectator, without the device of an explanatory prompt and/or prop, can then become that figure, and more fully experience the strikingly rich dreamscapes Jee Young Lee has so convincingly created.

    2. I see what you're saying, Dia. Perhaps this aspect has to do with the stage at which Jee Young Lee is in her work. Maybe further down the road, she will remove herself from her environments, or include more actors within them. Right now, the work is very self-focussed because she includes herself alone. The dog, caterpillars and birds are signs of her testing that premise.

    3. Yes, of course you're right, TB... images created in youth do tend to include the artist... as if to say: I'm here, see! Later in the day, the artist becomes the whole image and vice versa - there is no division.

    4. It's an interesting point - that the self is first distinct from the environment, and then the artist's consciousness becomes the environment, symbolically at least. It would be interested to see Jee Young Lee's work in 20 years.

  2. (above - correction) *it would be interesting