Composition 2006 #3 (spirit)

Composition 2006 #3 (Spirit) combines video projection as the illumination source with a large-scale graphite drawing on black paper. The video component of Composition 2006 #3 (Spirit)was created with incense smoke. Incense smoke does not have a solid physical body and its form is infinitely variable. However, the smoke makes visible the subtle movement of air in the space and confers perceivable corporeal properties on the movement of air.  The slowly moving video image elucidates the luminous and dark areas of the drawing, making “manifest and unmanifest” the details of the drawing, depending on the position of the viewer in relation to the light. Since the incense smoke appears in randomly created elaborate curvilinear patterns and constantly changing formations, it can evoke a highly coherent and receptive psychological state, inspiring the unconscious imagination as the viewer applies personal interpretation to the images.

Since my early teenage years, I had been deeply engaged in philosophy, Eastern thoughts and religious beliefs such as Han (ancient Korean) philosophy, Taoism, Buddhism and Gnosticism, in an effort to understand the nature of reality and life. These ancient and universal themes heavily informed my early thoughts and writings. I was especially interested in an apparently contradictory and paradoxical worldview characterized as both pantheism and panentheism, which posits that one and plurality are ontologically equivalent. In 1988 and 1989 I learned that some mathematical and scientific applications such as fractal theory, holography theory, quantum mechanics and cellular automata, correspond to the Eastern concepts postulating the interrelationship of microstructure and macrostructure; one and many; part and whole; self and other; individuality and impersonal intelligence (or universal constant). This theme has been the essential underlying approach of my artistic endeavor and has provided the integrity of my work across different media since my early video works containing an image that is microstructurally in constant flux but macrostructurally sustained, such as One Comprehends Plethora, Plethora Comprehends One (1997), Sumptuous Bars (1998) and the video component of my video sound work, Rice (1998).

The drawing component of Composition 2006 #3 (Spirit)is made of collections of distinct patterns with an unlimited number of variants. The original motif was developed from Korean traditional bird ornament patterns that appear abundantly in wall reliefs, latticework, textiles etc. In the drawing process, each motif became an incremental transformation of the original pattern. This work was inspired by the unique technique of drawing that was developed in the ‘70s by the light artist and calligrapher, Marian Zazeela. Marian’s drawings, such as 7 II 73 – 2 II 74, were drawn with graphite on black paper. I was captivated by the beauty of these drawings and the special effects that were created by the luminous reflective graphite while the black paper absorbed the light. Since the graphite on black drawing can only be visible when illuminated with a light source and viewed from an angle specific to each individual, I realized that control of the light can add another dimension to the experience. The drawings in the style of this genre of Marian’s work are improvised with extreme detail. This technique especially requires complete concentration and discipline.

There is a Vedic concept known as “Samadhi” in Sanskrit and “Samae” in Korean.  It is a state that can be achieved by narrowing the consciousness to focus on one object of concentration and by doing so becoming one with the object.  It evokes celebratory aspects of life.  If you are in the state of Samadhi through music, you do not try to achieve anything more than the enjoyment of the music in the moment and you are entranced in the music.  Celebrationand ecstasy are very important elements in art-making.  They bring out what is in you.  They can bring out the divinity within you.  It can be a first step toward a liminal state. For me, art making is a way of reaching the state of divine ecstasy, Samadhi.

Copyright © Jung Hee Choi 2007- 2012

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