English | 한국어
I have been producing handmade books since 1991. Many people have asked me how and why I started to make artist books. One of the reasons is a memory from my childhood. I had watched that my father, who was a music composer, always wrote music scores and bound them. At that time, there was no copy machine in Korea so my father had to write each score for each instrument. I often helped him to bind the scores and sometimes I made my own notebooks. Another reason is that there have been many different forms of books produced in Ancient Asia: sliced bamboo connected together, bound paper, scroll, and prayer wheel* in Buddhism and so forth. I grew up under Asian tradition and these diverse book formats in Asia created a foundation for my making art books.
The subject of the books is mostly related to the world that is not visible or tangible but it’s existence is believed by people: the world between the living and the dead. For this reason, my works contain the images from the surreal, dreams, imagination, and religions, especially Buddhism.
The process of making artist book is involved with repetition of the same movement. Similar to Buddhist monks who meditate upon Emptiness**, sitting on the same spot and facing the wall for days, months, or years, I repeat the same movement, mostly sewing, for hours and hours in order to complete my books. While doing so, my mind becomes Empty, losing track of time, and eventually, the repetition of the same movement is transfigured as one of the methods for meditation.
While having been making artist books for about 20 years, the forms of my handmade books have been changed. The earliest books showed more traditional book-format that we are familiar with: many pages bound together. Each page is two-dimensional and mostly contains drawn and painted images. Later the forms of the books have been developed from two-dimensional, relief, to three-dimensional types: box shaped books, wrapped sculpture forms using diverse materials, such as paper, wood panel, fabric, and all mixed media. The recent works look more like installation: expended wall-size book. So far, I have produced 50 artist books. Each takes 2-6 months to complete. My books are labor-intensive.
The fascinating effect of book art is that the book-format works do not reveal everything at once. Once the viewer gets closer to the works, and reaches out his/her hands to turn the pages, he/she will experience the intimate stories they contain. This is the way people understand the world. Everything seems ambiguous in the beginning, but the whole picture eventually becomes clear through its progression. It is my way to reach out to the world and to communicate with people though my works of art.
*It contains visual images rather than written languages. It was invented for the illegible. Turning a prayer wheel once is equivalent to finish reading a book of Buddhist
**It is one of the major doctrines in Buddhism.