For eternality, man have long deliberated on definition and meaning of ‘I’.
But with the growing invention of science on ‘I’, be it through artificial intelligence or research on human cloning, coupled with our ever cyber-connected human relations, in both the social and politics sphere, the discussion of ‘I’ has become ever more complex.
“Can an ‘I’ cloned from my genes be considered a human being?” With the ever pervasive stealth like the social and political conditioning, “Am I really who I am ?”
At first glance, there is no commonality in the works of these between these two highly acclaimed contemporary artists from Korea. Ho Yoon SHIN expresses though the ancient craft of the fine paper cutting technique while Zi Woon WANG work’s features technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.
However, as one delves deeper into the psyche of the two artists and their artistic expression about mankind, their similarities begin to unfold.
Wang considers it important to for man to learn to break free from physical human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment, just like Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through those Buddhist iconography inspired works. Rather is a platform to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.
Like Wang, Shin deliberates upon the state dystopia of in Korean using Buddhism inspired iconography to express to state of man and society.
“I am interested in social phenomena and approached the essence of it. I realised that the closer I approached it, I realised there is no essence. I think it is already intrinsic in you, being judged and evaluated by the inherent values in our things or me. Therefore, if examined in that viewpoint, I begin to understand why the power group of Korea has wanted to spilt all kinds of social systems, – the right and the left, social classes divided on its economic structure, dominance and subordination etc.
Although both of their work stemmed from their personal narratives, it has gradually extended its domain to issues on human existence. Wang’s work aggressively questions on human existence and makes an attempt to graft this onto something mechanical rather than passively accepting the future. While in the case of Shin, his distinct expression on ‘emptiness’ of his works and that of the world as a whole is a testimony to that belief of all is if no substance.
“Looking at a solid body made up through several layers, we get to know that the system of the body is organised rather dangerously than strangely, and the system looks like the contemporary society. And its vacant surface and inside are getting filled with our inherent images to completion. In the end, it’s a story about the situation and a point where we fill a surface that doesn’t exist… and console and satisfy ourselves.”, says Shin.
So what lies ahead for us? Wang is hopeful humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology, just as Shin bring forth an ancient craft to a another level and communicated in a contemporary context. Both see the future, not as a fight to eliminate the negative, a defeat of the dystopia, or feud between good vs. evil. But rather it about is attainting that state of harmony and balance of life.
For perhaps at the end of it all….. ‘i’ is no essence.
About Ho Yoon Shin
Born in 1975, Ho Yoon Shin graduated from Chosun University in 2001. His awe-inspiring works has won him multiple awards in Korea and has been shown Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Bulgaria and USA.
There is No Essence’ is a series of sculptures made entirely of hi fibre paper and crafted entirely by hand, these intricate artworks are inspired by not just Buddhism philosophy; but they also explores the fundamental social and political conditions in Korea and the world today.
Each of these intricate sculptures is painstaking crafted by Shin. Shin hand cuts each layer of the sculpture and coat them Urethane that protects and preserves the paper. Each layer is then carefully put together with coated paper joints that lend strength and stability to the artwork. Each of this artwork weighs no more than 200 gm.
To view more works by the artist, click here
About Zi Won Wang
Born in 1980, Korea, Zi –Won Wang graduated from the Chung Ang University with a BA in Sculpture in 2005. He proceeded to complete his Masters in 2007. In addition to having multiple solo exhibitions in Seoul, Tokyo and Amsterdam, Wang’s works have been shown in other major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chicago and New York.
Wang’s work begins from the birth of Z, a mechanical man. He refers to this man as a post human species, appropriating his own appearance and naming the mechanic man Z after his own name’s English initial. In his work, Z has proliferated and evolved in diverse modes. His works is a reflection of himself in human society, and appears as a protagonist or a baby. It is without doubt the artist himself, facing and playing with us, at the point where his most fundamental questioning begins. The question is whether Z can exist as a human being, and a machine with the spirit breaking away from the human body can be admitted as ‘I’ by others.
To view more works by the artist, click here