Extra Credit, Visiting Artist Kakyoung Lee

Laura Marshall.

Kakyoung Lee, 2 April.

I had the opportunity to attend a much smaller visiting artist lecture through my Drawing 4 class. Kakyoung Lee is a Korean artist who works out of New York. Her work mainly involves video installations along side the still drawings she uses to create her stop motion animations. The duality of the two aspects of her work displayed together add to the experience of the audience when they view her work in a show, especially since it is obvious how much time she spends on each video. Through her stop motion animations, Lee aims to capture the repetitive nature of daily life, and how strange it is that society accepts this repetitiveness without question. She began her work in graduate school in Korea in prints of distorted figures in glass boxes isolated in monochromatic landscapes. This offers an insight into our technology driven world and how it contains us much more than we realize. She offers another comment on technology in her work Inclining People (2003). This work consists of hundreds of paper cut outs of people sewed onto a moving conveyor belt, caught in the repetitive motion of rising onto the platform at one end, then travelling slowly forwards until they are propelled off at the other end. This demonstrates her observations of city life in America and in Asia. Everyone concentrates so much on their individual lives it is sometimes difficult to look around and see that the same motion is repeated day in and day out with no positive effect on their lives or on others’. Lee intends to draw attention to the similarities that unite us, and how trivial those similarities can be. Many of her stop motion animations show a lone figure repeating something futile, such as in Climbing Up, where the viewer witnesses a figure climbing to the top of a piece of wood, but then we are denied an ending and the figure is immediately seen at the bottom of the wood once more, showing the futility of constantly trying the same action and getting no different result. Her more recent works show a mastery of the stop motion animation technique. She uses her sketches of people she observes in New York City, then instead of deleting the previous image once the next one is added, she leaves the previous image to create a shadow effect on her figures. They have a sort of spectral trail that follows them around in their motions, cataloguing each movement.

Lee’s work is very illustrative and fascinating. Her perspectives on daily life are extremely insightful. Out of all of the visiting artist lectures I attended this semester, this one was my favorite by far, mostly because Lee seemed unintimidated by the crowd at her lecture, and spoke succinctly and matter of factly about her work. Sometimes it is the simplest things which make us create works, and Lee has no problem in admitting this, a trait which I found refreshing. Instead of hiding behind a all encompassing artist statement or some sort of profound epiphany, both of which of course are valid ways of explaining art, Lee simply told her story exactly how it happened to her. She just offers us a new insight into the contemporary world and how it affects us, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

One Response

  1. This was a very interesting read after finishing my paper on the Korean art exhibit at the CUAM, I wish I could have gone to the lecture! This artist presents another side of contemporary art that I had not thought about until I read about her and looked at her work, and an interesting perspective as a Korean artist who works mostly in America.

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