Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Media Art of Korean Artist Lee Lee-nam

Lee Lee-nam (李二男) at Hong Kong Arts Centre, February 2011.

Lee’s video art starts from 1'00" to the end.

My Aim is True (?)

‘Moon Jar’, 2011.  Observation of plant setting
amidst change of seasons.

As proclaimed from the above RTHK programme, Lee Lee-nam wanted to use his works to inspire viewers on the elusive domain of imagination.  Yet it was such an irony that room for inspiration from the exhibition was blatantly lacking.  The changing sequences of the four seasons, frequently used in his works, were predictable and awe-inspiring to the level of watching TV weather report.

Ten minutes of media art by Lee Lee-nam.

Visual Effects shadowing Avatar
More than 60 video Installations at the Hong Kong Arts Centre.
(Photo source: siuyee-utpoia.blogspot.com)

With video works using arbitrary pictorial references from Dürer, Vermeer, Klimt, Magritte and other classical oriental painters, Lee also deployed an exhausting list of contemporary signifiers including jet fighters, skyscrapers, cityscapes, banknotes, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, to name but a few.  The professionally made flashy imageries cooked up as Pixar-esque visual effects, like many cartoon movies, stimulus rather than inspiration was dominant.  There was poetics of very low order.  The videos almost transpired enough provocation to smash the screens.

Too Polite to Disagree
Video Installations spreading 2 floors.
(Photo source: siuyee-utpoia.blogspot.com)


Lee claimed that he tried to bridge the cultural gap between East and West as demonstrated in ‘Encounter of Gyumjae and Van Gogh’ (refer to RTHK video above).  It was a nice idea but not a license to trivializations.  If someone agrees with me but is too kind to contest against the works, it is usually along the premises of cultural chasms that are being explained.  It is regrettable but I object to this stream of thought no matter how considerate they are.  In the realm of contemporary art, there is very little deviation in judging between good and bad art; cultural dimension only adds on to its context not quality.

Globalization of Superficiality
(official photo from Hakgojae Gallery)

Though a non-believer myself but inspired by the Vatican's polemic above, are we in the age that if you do things persistently, no matter the quality, you will one day be accepted?  And with further perseverance, some day these works might be given credit for?  At least the trend is we seem to accept superficiality as a norm.

Big Business of Media Art
(Official photo from Hakgojae Gallery)

Apart from the bulk of the video installations, I was impressed by the well printed catalogue with 51 pages of colour illustrations.  It was another expensive outgoing for a public exhibition, one that I have not seen for a long time.  Bearing in mind, Lee’s works can fetch tens of thousands of dollars at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and even on-line auction houses.  Electronic applications are being developed by the Korean venture capital company - Ideatory, so that smart phone users worldwide can download Lee’s videos at a price.  It does not take an accountant to work out that Lee’s balance sheet needs no one to worry about.

Click to find review on Korean photography exhibition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think that lee lee's work is very beautiful and inspiring. I saw one of his works and it was jaw-dropping. He obiously works very hard on his paintings and admires these past artists he has recreated. Imitation is the best form of flattery.