Modern and contemporary artists have employed and co-opted the technologies of industrial mass production to create and distribute works of art in forms variously termed as multiples, printed matter or mail art. This strategy was pre-eminent in the 1960s and early 1970s when there was a widespread interest among artists in creating prints and books as works of art, and it was most central to the art group known as Fluxus, in Conceptual art and in the mail art movement. The multiple has re-emerged in recent contemporary art and it is an important strand in my practice. However, my works are not only informed by the methods of industrial mass-production, but also by the practices of the hand-made. It is one of my prime principles to engage with the theme of multiplicity and to use multiply produced forms.
The potentialities by assembled or collaged image provides a very remarkable point from which to approach contemporary aesthetic debates within postmodernism and to launch any searching examination of the formative currents in post-modern art. While contemporary art has challenged the rigid boundaries between form and content, the role of ‘the museological display’ remains crucial to the understanding of complex and uncanny elements in contemporary art practices. In my opinion, the condition of being on display is, therefore, fundamental to the construction of the category of ‘Art’ in the western world.
An interrogation of the museum artefact has been one of my longstanding projects since 1992. In my work, I have struggled to explore aspects of visual potentiality through five years’ research in London. In summery, my research is approached in the following ways:
First, I engaged with notion of ‘pseudo-archaism’ approached through my knowledge of ancient Korean artefacts and culture and use this as a way of re-questioning the western museum artefact. In my view, western museum practices employ a mode of archaeological methodology that can be understood as a form of personal excavation. Thus exploiting my position as a Korean national moved to London, my work engages with issues linked to the hybrid and cultural displacement and tied to the process of migration.
Second, I analyse the nature of the artists’ inherent collecting impulse both through my personal collecting and by reference to the collecting practices of other contemporary artists. Consequently, my research carries me into the areas of psychoanalysis and sociology.
Third, I analyse the appropriateness of the museological display as medium. In my investigation, I propose that the museum artefact when displayed in multiple forms can be approached by the use of an Eastern-informed meditative conception and quasi-scientific archaeological method.
Lastly, I try to conceptualise my use of found materials. Throughout my research, I try to evaluate and conceptualise crucial elements of my practice such as ambiguity, authenticity, repetition, and consistency.
The methodology that informs my practice is tied to researching the museum artefact in relation to my cultural identity. In this way, I have considered questions of personal identity and taxonomical methodology, and have approached identity as both ambiguous when in the process of migration and simultaneously linked to my experience of cultural displacement.
These are crucial parameters within which to find and develop my own visual language. As my work has progressed, I have had to establish the principles that inform my project as a sort of archaeological process: namely, one involving collecting, classification and display. At the same time, I am always aware of the hand-made aspects of artefacts. This is because I am instinctively interested in both their physical presence, and their symbolic aspect, which generates psychoanalytical associations, especially ideas of repetition and multiplicity. It is in my research into materials, particularly bones and stones, that my acts of personal collecting can be seen as a form of personal discovery and excavation. Throughout my work, I always keep in my mind the sense that subjectivity has to be objective and objectivity has to be subjective.
In Chapter 1, I debate the view that instinctive collecting impulses in artists in relation to the assemblages of various found materials might be understood in terms of ‘hunting’ and the notion of art objects as ‘hunting objects’. My position exploits the repetitive nature of personal collecting as a form of personal excavation, which is associated in my own imagination, in terms of hunted objects. My works have also been careful to develop the innate possibilities and potentialities of the materials themselves. Thus, I try to link the collecting principles and motivations of both western and eastern museum artefact. In my research, I regard my experiences in London as an important source to consider hybrid and cultural displacement in post-modernity. In my examination of the dialogue between the artist and archaeology, I link my interest in pseudo-archaism to the concept of spontaneous response taken from Korean aesthetics.