Frame 61

Kwanwoo Park

Frame 61
Kwanwoo Park
 

"My practice is like making mirrors. The mirror that reflects a different perspective, different spacetime, but the subject who stares at the mirror can always be found in the work."

 

Interview by writer Stephen Feather

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?

Born in Seoul, South Korea, I have lived my whole life in there, until I moved to London 2 years ago. I have been basically a very curious person by nature since I was a kid. I had a very severe childhood asthma for a few years when I was very little, which was why I had to spend so many times alone rather than playing outside with other kids. Instead, I have done so many drawings, made illustrations for the weird stories which I really enjoyed making up. 

I think all these years probably influenced my inclination as an artist who enjoys to ponder on and dig into fundamental topics.

In College, I have studied Interaction Design and Physical Computing at Hongik University in Korea. Working as an exhibition designer at the art museum after graduation for a while, I decided to move to London to pursue my career as an artist. I studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. 

  Human Conversation 2 (2018)

Human Conversation 2 (2018)

Your work often involves audience participation. What kind of dialogues are you hoping the viewer will develop with the work?

My practice is like making mirrors. The mirror that reflects different perspective, different spacetime, but the subject who stares at the mirror can always be found in the work.   

Challenging the relational structure between the viewer and the artwork is the thing which I really enjoy. I try to make work that let the audience become the part of the work itself, without being aware of it. So the viewer can find themselves by othering its relation with the work. I hope my questions to be delivered to the audience as very personal, even though the subject that I am dealing with could be seen as universal.   

You have said that your work is ‘driven by fundamental questions about our subjective sense of self and it’s constant becoming - a continuous phenomenon.’ What are the challenges in exploring this area?

My challenge in exploring this area is to make myself balanced between academical research and artistic expression. Curiosity is the most fundamental part of my art practice. I use lots of references from science and psychiatrical research to deal with this curiosity. I try not to stuck in my own personal experiences and thoughts. But it’s all about finding a good balance between these two.

  Human Conversation 1 (2018)

Human Conversation 1 (2018)

  Human Conversation 1 - Installation view (2018)

Human Conversation 1 - Installation view (2018)

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

I spend most of my time reading news and books. Because I believe that the core inspiration of art is based on the interest and curiosity of the environment in which the subject of the work belongs. These things can be done in many places, not necessarily in a studio. When inspiration comes to my mind in the research process, I go to my studio which locates in college, start designing, experimenting ideas. I spend more energy on research and design than on the production of the final piece. Maybe that is why my studio looks like a design office rather than production workshop.

How do you go about naming your work?

It is very important for me to set the right title for the work. Because sometimes it could work as a very important key for the viewer to access the work. There are no certain rules in naming, however, I become very very sensitive and careful when trying to come up with the title. I try to set the title carefully, considering the context and the environment in which each project is delivered to the audience.  

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

I remember Cecile B. Evans' work 'What the Heart Wants’ which was shown at the Namjun Paik Art Center in Korea, recently. The questions she gives us through the work such as "What makes us humans, in particular, how we are going to change these definitions in this rapidly changing technological world we are in?" are deeply connected with the topics that I’m curious about.

  Stranger (2017)

Stranger (2017)

Isolated System 3 - It's Between Us (2018)

Isolated System 1 - what is changing and what is not (2017)

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

We are witnessing very special historical moments. The advancement of various technologies is progressing at a much higher rate than ever before, and it is directly being applied to our actual life. I understand the development of technology as an extension of human existence. Unlike other animals that live in a given environment, we actively intervene in our environment and create a new environment that did not exist in nature. Ever since we started using the tool for the first time, our definition of existence has never stayed in a biological boundary.

I recently started my journey to understand the new boundary which is being explored through new technologies. Among many other studies, research on machine learning of Artificial Intelligence and the concept of singularity is the subject that I am greatly interested in. I see this as another kind of self-aware, a new way of understanding our self-awareness.  

I have recently started experiments on this subject, and my video installation series <Human Conversation Series> is the early stage on that. Upcoming versions of my experiments on that will be seen very soon in the following months.

kwanwoopark.net

Published: 10/07/2018
All images courtesy of the artist