I was born and raised in Busan, Korea. When I was 2 years old, I lost my hearing due to high fever. In return, I gained keen vision. Although I could not hear, I could read minds by I carefully observing people's facial expressions and actions. I learned painting from when I was 3 years old. And it was through the pictures that I was able to show others how I feel and think. This was how I communicated with others.
When I was 19, I came to New York City to study painting. It was the first time I left my parents and faced the world alone. New York, ‘a dream city’, was a truly amazing place. But the competition within the city was also very fierce. International students like me had to pack up and go back home if they did not succeed. As time went on, my colleagues left one by one, and, having a hearing impairment and not being fluent in English, I was always at a disadvantage in the survival competition.
I studied fine arts at SVA and changed my major to photography. I made this decision because of the appeal of the camera beyond the limits of the picture. After graduating from college, I got a job, made my artwork and traveled around the world. In the meantime, as a photography volunteer at an international relief organization, I visited a number of underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia. There I was once again confronted with the harsh realities of the world.
In the world we live in, great wealth and extreme poverty coexist, just as day and night do. The gap between the two is getting deeper, but most people are indifferent to it. Meanwhile, the world is getting faster, more uniform, and becoming more and more indistinguishable. People work harder and more have to be more competitive to survive, and their faces and minds become hardened. However, in the midst of this, there is happiness, warmth, and hope as soft buds.
I shot and edited those scenes from the world, and made my artworks. These works, which resemble reality but are not “real”, are a record of this world I have expressed in my own language, because I can not hear well and am modest in my speech. In my opinion, there is a sound that can not be heard by ears. It is a kind of 'visual language' that exists in people's expressions and motions and in the environment. It can be communicated between people of different languages, because it is the sound of the mind. So I understand people and the world through this language and embody these sounds in my works.
I want people to see the sounds in my works. In reality, people often pass by when they may happen to see the sounds in their day-to-day because of their busy life. But there may be important facts or hidden truths that we should not miss in those sounds. And I also want us to open our minds and look at others, the world and ourselves. Then we will be able to see the truth, and then we will be able to achieve true communication.