After reading the books, like Gulliver's Travels, Utopia, and Erewhon, and seeing the Japanese animation Castle in the Sky, I became inspired to develop a relationship between the concept of utopia and the materials I use in my work.
My recent work, Incense Series, focuses on this relationship while searching for the promised harmonic balance that utopia brings. Ironically, the word "utopia" in Korean s "Yi Sang Hyang" and "Hyang" also mean "incense." In my current incense drawings, I use lit incense sticks to burn holes in rice papers. Then I mount the final drawings onto varnished canvases.
The burning of incense sticks creates emptiness where once was substance, both in the stick and the paper after their usage. At the same time, the emptiness creates space in the paper and empty spaces show new images. The holes in the paper allow one's eyes to see shadows. While at the same time, light is reflected from the varnished canvas through these holes. This balance between light and dark, substance and emptiness is the essence of 'Yin' and 'Yang.' And through this balance, utopia is achieved.
The subjects addressed in my work, which range from the natural world to memories of the past, reflect the constant physical and emotional changes in our environment. It is my hope that the "moments" I capture as subjects are the ones when they are at their most ideal (or true_ utopias. While drawing them with the incense, I am "holding" a split second of the harmony in my hands.