The Han WonSuk I met in 2003 was a person with a borderline personality disorder. His abrupt tantrums-when things didn’t go as planned - were more than unpleasant and his stubborn black and white thinking on “Nothing is impossible!” made me shake my head. At the same time, when he met an elderly woman on the street selling chewing gum, he would never pass by without giving money. He - who just a moment ago was complaining that he didn’t have money for an espresso - suddenly showed 10,000 won worth of kindness. In this way, the amplitude of his language and behavior is much greater than that of most people.
It took me many years to understand him.
The boundary of dos and don’ts imposed by society does not seem to be important to Han the artist. With the hope of becoming an artist, he put himself on a construction site then he really became an architect; with a love for music he pursued sound and created a pretty good sound work. For a while Han ran an alternative space at Beijing 798 Art District and planned cultural and artistic festivals. He believes it’s important to act and follow the road he chooses and not be too concerned with other people’s opinions. Although he knows well that his stubbornness can bring forward misunderstandings, that too is no big deal to Han. Therefore, there have been many unintended “mistakes” with people. I was one of many who had shunned him for years
In the fall of 2010, I met the artist again. There had been abundant changes in his work. When he presented “The Flower of Evil” in 2003, where he accumulated few hundred thousand cigarette butts, I thought he would never again attempt to transform abandoned objects (people call them “trash”) into a work of art, as it was an exhibition that required an extreme time commitment and devoted labor. I was wrong. In 2006, Han collected 1374 headlights of disowned cars in creating his Cheomseongdae piece - “Rebirth” - and two years later in 2008, he compiled 3088 speakers in reproducing the Great King of Sung Duk’s Bell in “Hyeong Yeon”. He kept his initial promise of resurrecting abandoned things from society into works of art.
This exhibition, “Reconciled”, which departs from the literal meaning of “unraveling the flower”, embraces a space to communicate the feelings the artist was not able to express until now. For 40 days, 16,000 speakers were attached to all sides of the exhibition space. It began with a reconciliation with the curator - myself - but shortly it expanded into a reconciliation with the world, the environment, nature and lastly the artist himself. Walking into the exhibition space packed with 16,000 black speakers, a faint echo gradually grows. However it is not easy to find the origin of the sound. The viewers encounter an overwhelming number of speakers but never imagines that all are silent except for one speaker.
This ironic tug-of-war situation of a single speaker and 15,999 soundless speakers remind us Of people in today’s society _ wanting to approach yet silent.
If Han had made forms representing the cultural roots of Korea until now, such as Cheomseongdae and the Great King of Sung Duk’s Bell, this time he removes the form itself, allowing the audiences to focus on the sound. The artist focused on discovering the point of contact between the principles of the artificial and natural sound. The principle is rather simple. If ordinary speakers are direction-orientated - exporting sound in a particular direction - the pipe speakers painted with lacquer made by the artist transmits sounds in every direction; they are nondirectional. From the 16,000 speakers only one is removed and placed in the round sound pipe but the effect is phenomenal - Han’s small speaker has just reached the quality of the natural sound.
The most notable characteristic in Han’s work lies between the boundary of dual structures such as; trash and art, human and nature, civilization and environment, front and back, light and shadow. He demonstrates these in a very specific way like an architect. The artist has rebelled against painting, which only focuses on the facade and through his working with cigarette butts, Han demonstrates that front and back can coexist. (To the artist, the smelly side is truth and the facade with the attractive flower is illusion.) Through the use of LED lights from abandoned headlights, he surpasses the historical and spacial context of Cheomseongdae and redirects the light to the future. And lastly through the discarded speaker work, Han creates a bridge between visible and non-visible territories.
Han’s persistent collection of abandoned objects of smell, light, and sound leads to a coherent subject - desire - which he divides into individual desire and social desire. He defines love towards family and oneself as individual desire, while ambition for success, longing for authority and worldly pleasure as social desire. From the pile of “trash,” the artist hopes for a cure that will restore the imbalance of diminishing individual desire and epidemically spawning social desire. “Trash” is the symbolic demise of the utility of convenience, desire, and pleasure of human civilization. It seamlessly fits into the theme. Therefore, his collage of trash is easily de-contextualized to build new meanings. What is more astonishing than Han’s obsession with the belief that “trash can be an art work” is his derogative positioning of himself as a criminal. So he works wearing an embarrassingly dirty prisoner’s uniform. If this penitent action was temporary, you can call it a “well-planned performance.” But the artist has been continuing this crazy performance for over 10 years. His crabby language often fails to deliver what he really means, but his action speaks loudly: “the value of the changing world is always bigger than the misunderstanding.
LEE DaeHyung _ Director, Hzone / President, media bar Absinthe,2011
camera obscura, the room sculpturing sound
Dark room is empty. Therefore, the space is camera obscura. However, the empty room is not exact expression. As 3 pillars stand in the room looking like a large sound room where many speakers stand around 4 wall sides of the dark room.
In coming into such clean room, your pupils expand and experience exotic and strange feeling as if you come into dark non-gravity space for a while before you recognize the matters. However, the arthur considered lest should other peoples go into a maze of black hole at least, you feel free a little later from the darkness. Among 3 pillars, very dim light emits from the central one.
After a while, you will recognize certain sound comes from anywhere. When approaching to the pillars, you can find the pillar looks glossy as oil is not dry on the pillar. 3 pillars are in fact paper pipe. Among 3 paper pipes, the central one gathers the edge of bottom as if a corn and the above pipe is cut as horizontal one. As the light comes from this cut part, they look like the pipes of same diameters as if candles in the darkness.
Namely, 4 papers pipes consists of 3 pillars from vertically installed 2 pillars, the speakers between the pipes and a reflector. The sound running through the dark room emits from the pillars which special non-orientative speaker system the arthur designed in person are inserted into. This speaker sounds from front side to all the directions to remove the orientation of sound to make optimal sound.
This is the description for the sound works named as <Reconciliation> of Han Won-seok. Here, 2 questions raise. First, what means the sound from his works? He presented a similar works with that named as <Sound Forest>. He stood many paper pipes as if they look like forest and installed speakers inserted pipes named as <Sound Forest>; it reminds you of wooden trunks stuck forest enough.
In the past works, he didn’t stand speak wall or only installed 3 pillars instead of standing all the speakers around the wall. Therefore, the sound from his early works is a crucial element but reminds you of a visual architecture; the sound in the <Reconciliation> is more crucial factor and rises as a theme controlling the theme of this works. Frankly speaking, his interest doesn’t make a formation but is concentrated on the sound of sculpture. The reason why <Reconciliation> is made up of a miniature style is to satisfy a minimum condition to embody unvisual wave into a visualization at least.
Second, why did he put the name of this works as ‘reconciliation’ as the media of curiosity. It reminds you of doing away of evil emotion of each other to solve any conflict or argument. However, he wrote chinese characters of the meaning such as translation of flowers. he put it into ‘reconciliated’ doing ways of solve the reconciliation; so it guides to make you think the meaning of works. What does he reconcile with and for what he reconciled. In the end, ‘flower’ appear but for he did reconciliation? To answer this question, take a look at the factor of non-reconciliation in his conscience. For this, a little addable description.
Reconciliation with Himself
While interviewing Han Won-seok, he confessed that he suffered from ‘boundary characteristic disorder’. As his disease is a rare kind of one, I looked for its related data and found that it is a mental disease due to difficulty in controlling oneself’s emotion, and its symptoms are serious emotional ups and down such as anger, melancholy and worry. I can’t believe it.
When talking with me, he expresses his opinion definitely with the voice of 1 higher octave, keeps his faith strongly and full of pride. What a boundary disorder he has! Of course, all the matters had gone, I agree more or less his past story. I can image easily how he has made an effort to resurrect himself as a prominent architect and a passional artist, overcoming his misfortune and living independently even though he should have been the host of his own life.
Most of all, he is certainly very independent person. He suffered from a certain disease, I cannot deny he is excellent in views of reality. When he studied environmental design, he earned a master’s degree from a graduate school and again earned a doctor’s degree from the science of constructing department and he got by for himself. He studied art independently to be a painter, supplied minimum living cost for his living with the profit earned from architectural designing and other profit were almost spent for his works; so he is not a normal person.
He finally suggests reconciliation for the persons who were suspicious about his sincerity. I can’t know his thought throughly but, through his words or behavior, I believe he has warm heart for the world. As he spent hard adolescence, he might feel alone and suffer from unfairness. However, he is kind, generous and polite. Also, he has a passion for living together.
When looking into his works, all the material were abandoned. Valueless matters go to recycling center or waste depository. This abandoned or matters which are supposed to go finally is recycling or rebirth as well as bestows new life on the dead thing. Actually, as 16,000 speakers were the part of TV, he just collected matters which are nearly disposed as no more value they have.
He dismantled the part of the other products, picked up non-usable goods and put them on the wall; it shows the acme of simple labor requiring patience and concentration. As he connected speakers and pile up the wall, theses might be a healing course healing himself whom felt abandoned and the respect for the non-usable matters. So the target he want to reconciliate is himself, not the world. Hard works taught him about generosity. So he could have reconciled with the world.
From Cigarette-butt To Revival
In 2006, I watched his works-bundle of cigarette-butt for the first time. About 100 representative Chinese modern fine artists took part in In this exhibition planned by Lee Xienting, a famous Chinese art critic, and only one guest artist was him whom were invited to Chinese modern fine art exhibition. He is such artist as it is a great meaning but the wane globe producted by Chinese artists and him together was impressive for me by its material and contents.
Art Side Gallery in 2003, he produced a cigarette butt and has announced that work. Exhibition title is Charles Baudelaire and it reminds me of the verse makes evil flower, respectively. Seemed shy flower petals open and close-ups of the Georgia O'Keeffe to be borrowed from the work of a self-portrait from where he was released to work for the pleasure of all the smokers themselves miserable and finally abandoned burned body consisting of butt. Tobacco is harmful and pleasure with the dual attributes of luxury goods. Butts of these two properties was abandoned and only the addiction to human waste disposal is one. As well as the blood of his discarded cigarette butts on the street to collect anyhow the wastes while configuring the screen to 'criminals' were treated. Twenty cigarettes per day have been smoked and make it the number of cigarettes they're smoking after 10 years later from one side to fire 73,000 abuse their body while polluting the environment as well as logic. To work one day in 2340 while he was picking up discarded butts one months 'repentance party'. He is not free from the desire of smoking logic, guilt and confession about, and even the desire to destroy the environment to meet the complex psychology that underlies human. Picking up cigarette butts that are not party to it or not suddenly repent of such a complex psychological idea of self-compensation costs that have difficile. Dirty and worthless crap anyway, advocates of defective head, spouting all kinds of chemicals, cigarette butts collected last to draw a beautiful flower would be his provocative action. Ironically, his cigarette butt is into the picture of the word. Apparently revealed the ugly smell of a beautiful flower is actually a mere drifting cigarette butts. Noble and elegant reminded in appearance, the desire and turns poignant and torture for the remnants of popular satire, it's racing brake system has broken down and that it may be said that the desire of the train to reach the modern consumer society and it is not outrageously warning about catastrophe. Advertising is lurking behind the radiating splendor hung in the consumption desires of self-hypnosis to see Florida lose the lead. Thus, in pomp of his work is flushing when caught in the desire to dispose of seeing the end of the debris away. So whether the spirit of his work we feel like bashing is a moral warning.
According to Beijing work, when the Artistic 798 is a non-profit gallery in the joint was. Here, too, the story once appeared, but he was building a wall of a galler, it is filled with cigarette butts all across the fire and he had also planned performance. Of course, if this plan will be surely the matter, he would have been arrested as an arsonist buildings. So this experimental run, but not reckless performance that through this, but to realize what he imagined all kinds of ways to bring wisdom and wants to be a rebel of contemporary art can be seen that dream .
Cigarette butts collected hundreds of thousands of other writers have not so far produced work The idea <EVIDENT> in their being dismissed unfairly abandoned him to be deprived of things is to amplify the love clear. If you have feelings of deprivation spewing anger and If it evoke the sensation of his work, but he did not do an awful burnout. From an early age, " survival of the law' because he realized that his feud with the world to be able to hurt another familiar viscosity. So he collected discarded objects new meaning to it chose an alternative. 2006, published by the stream <Reincarnation> is thus born. He abandoned cars’ headlight assembly. This work saw the stream only when installed in Gwangtonggyo frankly, even I was disappointed Cheomseongdae is wonder. Work together in broad daylight in front of wine to drink, and talk about the work of the work, he described in detail the structure and way of working, but also understandable, is not convinced. I gave him a well-designed architecture student and he should have data, but because the structure of this work is so mean what does it mean to say that the question was visible, I remember sprouting. The sun goes down and the lights work quite plausible that contains typographical errors in the reconstructed city of the 21st century, but for Cheomseongdae was still unacceptable. International Sculpture Project 2008 Busan Biennale 3088, he composed two speakers <Hyeongyeon> What is the work of APEC Naru Park in Busan Centum City installed. He is the great new holiness in the form of a similar type of borrowing new Gwacheon National Science Museum and is the permanent works installed. Installed in APEC Naru Park <Hyeongyeon> I am looking at a reproduction of Cheomseongdae <Reincarnation> is like a really stupid idea works could not erase. Gorgeous gold dust here lies the remains of a stuffed right in there. The horse is up-close and I listen to hear what happened, but did not hear a sound. Steel and surround speakers, one kind of replication in twenty won for the seconds so that the hanging. Moreover, it is stupid, it's August, it is a pleasant thing were roasting in the hot sun was not stares. He headlights from the stench of cigarette butts, lighting, and sound using the speakers work, but an important element to pull the visual context of the established one was merely imitating the cultural assets. Of course <Reborn> and give life to the abandoned things, <Hyeongyeon>, the personal memories of his intention to release the sound should be respected. But parody nor pastiche is not a public dressing and is placed in this work are intended to emit light through the structure forgotten past, namely, Silla Cheomseongdae for the people who go up to the astronomical observations of the cosmos reminded about curiosity and the spirit of science, the stars of the night sky return to childhood innocence innocent we say the result has created the idea. Great new work of holiness motif was also the result now whether you want to find the lost sound. The material is endless so gritty. Cheukwoogi draw water into the motif, Angbuilgu to attract sunlight through, Honcheonui borrows the climate drew in the 'great things' that could mean for more. But <Reincarnation 'and' Hyeongyeon> of his work is a process for self-renewal and <Reconciliation> and the result of everything looking for can not be denied. I have a simple form for the borrower, despite the negative view headlights, speakers, and expand the material and the sound from the introduction of light, not the sound that now forms a key element of the work reached the stage of utilizing the fact that significant.
Towards a comprehensive arts audience participation
In human sensory stimuli transmitted from the external world, it is the first hearing will be accepted. External ear is open 24 hours a day in the audible range of the wavelength of the sound accept Han won-seok while having an interest in sound shape could be freed from the restraint. <Sounds of the Forest> because of the noise from the outside, as he feared that his sound is designed by confirming that he is not transmitted properly form becoming increasingly important sounds while simplifying <Reconciliation> was lead. Confined in a dark room like a height away from the commotion of the moment seems to be that the sound is exalted the contemplative work. It is true that he intended to receive room playing in the sonic experience. He also produced a special amplifier for it, the composer-songwriter rather than a more appropriate representation of the sound designer and you do not know-and also the collaboration. <Reconciliation> built in the middle of the pipe, cut the paper along the inside it can see the light and find the sound experience is interesting to listen to. He said it Voyeurism represents the means. Since the inner wall of the container is filled with works such as tunnels and also be envisioned. I listened to his plan works as intended, to be fulfilled if the case is a dark tunnel and a captivating sound to attract people to work is expected to be able to read. John Cage is a Japanese Zen Buddhism and the protagonist under the influence of an empty element in the sound of the music that is accepted by the noise <4:33> Han won-seok announced it but the sound is more than making people embarrassed to see We believe in creating space. He announced a new task for science and technology such as electronic control units mobilized interactive multimedia works and the presence of other speculation while he never realize dismantling and recreate the introspective existence in the hope that the world of Arnold Hauser, as is said, of a medieval Gothic cathedral rose window and enter through the stained glass from the window wall penetrating light, color and sound of the pipe organ can be appropriate for complex audio-visual experience. Discharge perforated window comes up believers and pilgrims to light leads crucifix ' LP ' also provides it. Han won-seok’s Tunnel is simply the work of a short stay in the light path and is passed or not, if the principle is applied to the camera in a dark room (camera obscura) as the light permeated through a small hole made in the wall on the inside of the speaker and the video and it invites the harmonized sound of the video space and silence with which the composite audio-visual experience with meditation on the meaning of the place but it is more consistent if not we Voyeurism think. Only empty space to meditate away the device will not be induced. Light the way, walk along the path of sound, light, sound, you can hear it in the vain hope the space that will not be an illusion. He said to me clearly. Implementation of all the things we want to imagine that ...
Choi TaeMan _ Critic, 2011