Is an artist a creator?
I have been worried about this question for a long time, even though this question is so natural. Most of the artists including the past mentioned in contemporary art, do not seem to be included in the category of creator. Leonardo da Vinci, famous for the Mona Lisa, only discovered the beauty in the nature and visualized it. Modernist Mane also had a poor imagination for his friend, Baudelaire. But Baudelaire has a part that one never thinks of. The imagination that Mane lacked was not really necessary for Mane, but the important thing is the world that Mane expanded. At least in his world, the imagination that was valued by artists was not so important.
Art reflects the times. A time-honored artist would become mirrors reflecting the social phenomena of the times. But should the goal of artists passively reflect only the social world? The reason why art can reflect the times is because art makes an artistic response to society. The recognition of the problems, each artist is concerned about, reflects poetic values, orientations, and the phases of the times because they respond to society in their own manners. In this regard, the result door may or may not be necessary. Even if someone paints a triangle with a twig on sand and then covers it with sand, we cannot erase the triangle in our consciousness.
I firmly believe that I am interested in that the speculation and expression of these observations and experiences—as I mentioned above—create a distinct identity for an artist. I simply do not express what I like but suggest a new art through an epistemological approach. The values and functions that were formerly the domain of art are now replaced by other mass media. The most representative example is a lot of audiences in a movie theater. Artists have less social influence than any other media. At least it is in Korean society. In that sense, my work does not contain a message to enlighten someone. I do not believe that I can enlighten anyone, and I do not think that being as an artist belongs to such a class. My interest is the ideological attitude of the visitors to the materials of my work rather than social criticism. To interpret the canvas full of vast images and symbolic codes, you have to categorize the materials. In addition, in the approach to the subject of my work, our consciousness reconstructs a new meaning. I am interested in this process.
Spiral form has my historical consciousness. I think the characteristics of the spiral that converges into a single point is very similar to the repetition of similar phenomena in human history. ‘Panopticon’ is a form of jail building proposed by Jeremy Bentham, British philosopher as well as jurist. The root of Panopticon is the Greek word mixed with 'pan' meaning 'everyone' and 'opticon' meaning 'seeing'. He invented the word when proposing a prison in which a small number of monitors could watch all prisoners without showing up. It is a keyword that is frequently used to approach the structural aspects of modern society from various perspectives. I, therefore, hope that in this term I will be able to share meaning with you. Spiral Panopticon more focused on inhumanity rather than control and power. Modern society does not directly cause pain, but it is increasingly difficult to find the coordinates of life in this world with our slumbering senses, which causes us to suffer from deadly symptoms. It is your responsibility to conceptualize them in the overflowing images of various events, thoughts, issues, and discourses. I think pain is the strongest evoking device to remind us of living.
■ Seunghee Kang