Unconsciousness of Perspective, the Impulse from Empathy to Abstraction

Songe, Cho (Art Critic, Director of CSP111 Art Space)


Helen Chung Lee has been dispreading dreamlike poetic scenes by granting recalling images as a title to the accidental figuration found at natural patterns. (On the road looks like dimly through the haze in human sight) Magnified gnarls and annual rings of a tree that is vividly captured by close-up with the camera lens and a photographic recreation of abalone shell per se is an ecstatic enough for flowing lines, soft colors, brightness, and rhythmical grain. Also, creation, modification, and extinction of all things while the circulatory flow is sincerely repeated, that is thematic meaning of mother nature's temporality and interior of microcosmos that embraces macrocosm's harmony and order is substantial enough to immerse us regardless of whether the artist or the viewer.  


The unconsciousness of photography and technical recreation has been attracted attention from the initial stage as a hallucination that is significant enough and the artistic vision which attracts aspirations for the infinite world with cutting the repetitive private loop and ordinary eyes of mankind. As the artistic salvation and the moral sense of the contemporary intellect who introspects and concerns about human alienation, disconnection, and uniformity, that is the limitations of reasonableness, rationality, science technology, and specialization. Recreation outcomes of photographs that revive diverse characteristics, sense, pluralistic society, history, and culture allow us to immerse in 21 century digital virtuality as a repository of imagination that stimulates human's infinite extension. At the same time, surplus photographs that repeatedly, mechanically recreated subjects or thematic interests, criticism about the meaningless list and exhausted meanings, critical discussions about contemporary social culture, dented reality in the immense program of science-technology-capital taken by photographs and recovery of liberty, independent perspective is repeated issues that arose again with regard to photographs. Photographs are critical discussions that became seriously in the 16C Renaissance age. And now it is struggling among any other artistic genre, by artistic imagination that is distinctive from the recreative imagination of science technology, pictures pass overs technical hallucination, and taking distance, ducking as the liberal independent perspective and attitude.  


Whether Helen Chung Lee intended or not, her work of boundaries between photography and painting continued since 2007, her solo exhibition can be stated in the context of the impulse toward unconsciousness and artistic figuration. To her, photography is not the tool to provide recreation or compositional materials, but the intermediate tool that arouses the liberal imagination. Like a crystal ball of magician or psychological test of Rorschach, which are the exterior figurations that are captured through the camera's eye and cannot be determined roles to lead interior sentiments, emotions, and wished to the exterior by imagining memorized, saved figurations freely. Helen Chung Lee clearly realizes images aroused on pictures with an acrylic sketch. Like salt crystal is exposed after seawater evaporated, she illustrates internal figurations just as it potentially existed in the original pictures.


Helen Chung Lee addresses the interesting paradox that takes distances by empathy to the exterior world as well as the advent of the interior with immersing into the pictures. She chose to amuse the paradox itself rather than having interesting on it. As it manifests on the title of her solo exhibition <Hide and Seek> in 2007, close-up photograph of tree gnarls intermediates to start a liberal transaction between target exterior world and internal individual world. From 2008 to 2013, currently, she expressed picturesque <Dreamscape> which reflects the artist's internal image on abalone shell's pattern transferring working environments such as Busan, Cheongju, Jeju island, Gangwon-do. Human emotion that feelings and dishonors are mixed together and gnarls, wrinkles are harmonized by disparate elements such as the density of wrinkles caused by natural period, the existence of diverse colors, ambiguous figurations that are hard to nominalize, and blurred boundaries between figuration and background.    


In Helen Chung Lee's <Dreamscape> which consists of literary description and a series of episodes that have the moody title, an allegorical impulse is intensively formed clearly surrounding figurations. Despite this, they immerse into the pattern of tree gnarls and inner abalone during the working process, and lay down interior perspective on this and entrusts to visual amusement. It also makes to look back on intensive impulse on abstraction and attention about natural figuration principle, order, and structure beyond the identical object of human emotions which is simple empathy. It is believed that her pure visual interest, curiosity, and suspicion of beauty has been made introspective attitude herself. Helen Chung Lee's perseverance leap on the abstract photograph is expected in terms with artistic perspective to immerse and distance as well as earnest and sincere times for artistic belief on novelty.