- 고명근 갤러리
글 수 7
Koh Myung Keun
Frey Norris Gallery
Koh Myung Keun’s photo-sculptures embrace the emptiness inside all things. Their transparent surfaces reflect images of the world, whether architecture, landscapes or the elements, while within there is nothing. This approach reflects a Buddhist-inspired awareness of the ephemeral, as Koh’s art demonstrates how to pass through this mortal plane and into transcendence.
The three elements of each work are the container, representing a void to be filled with actions and thoughts; symmetry, representing natural order and harmony; and transparency, representing absence, superceding time and the body. Koh’s imagery has at times incorporated architecture, sculpture and bodies, but in his new work he is focused on simple images of water, isolated trees, cloud-filled skies, and expansive landscapes. He uses what he calls “illusory images” to replicate the transparency evident in his materials and ideas within the image itself. The overlapping planes create an illusion of depth, so that the spaces of the work appear to go on infinitely.
Koh creates these objects by digitally printing photographs onto transparencies, which he then laminates between clear sheets of plastic to stiffen them and protect the printed surfaces. He stitches these planes together using a heat gun in a technique not unlike welding, in which the heat-pooled plastic ties the planes together with sturdy bonds. Koh is not a new media artist in the conventional sense—yet his work is enormously dependent on technological innovation. As the technology has improved to print digitally on transparencies in large-scale, Koh’s sculptures have grown from tabletop works to floor-based pieces now five feet or more across. Similarly, the sculptures’ shapes have become more complex, incorporating curved planes and multiple joined forms as his technical facility with the process of their making has increased.
Plastic is a practical medium for this practice, being transparent and long-lasting, and at the same time it is a material that represents the industrialized world. Koh does not reject our world – rather, he revels in the uncanny beauty to be found in disrepaired buildings and overgrown fields. The larger scale of the new works allows them to take on equivalency with bodies, suggesting that we might enter or even transform into what we see before us. This concept is made literal in Sky 1 and Sky 2 (both 2008), in which a figure climbs stairs leading to a door in the sky. These works and several others in the series are human-sized, which indicates that they are evolving beyond referencing architecture toward becoming it. They could be terrariums, in which a new consciousness grows within a protected, cultivated environment.
In many East Asian cultures, it is common to keep a small shrine in the home. This is to honor generations past and to appease the spirits, but it is also a daily reminder to stop and reflect. Koh’s sculptures can be viewed this way, his work offering stillness within the chaos of urban life. These secular, contemporary objects invite us to pause, resting our eyes and our minds on a vision of sublime transcendence.