Unknown Faces
Sang Eun
October 21, 2023 – November 26, 2023
Ki Smith Gallery
Untitled, 2022

Your journey from Seoul to New York and your road trips across the United States seem to have an influence on your work. Can you share a specific moment or location that profoundly moved you during your travels and how it inspired your art?

I grew up in Seoul, which is pretty much a metropolitan city. Huge buildings surround it and is as crowded as New York.

My first impression in the American West in 2017 was phenomenal. Vast open land struck me with emptiness, yet, the nature echos back as I was in a dialogue. So, after I moved to New York in 2019, I planned to go back to the West, where I could have the same experience. The flatness of the land, seamlessly disappearing and growing back to life, allowed me to mirror myself through the landscape and feel genuinely open and present.

You mentioned that space has feelings and forms in your photographic practice. How do you go about capturing these emotional states in your photographs?

With photography, it is hard to eliminate the fact that the medium is very representational and technologically captures comprehensive details. However, the way that I approach my work is not based on those apparent representational aspects. Instead, I bring the idea of going beyond the image through texture, scale, and the weight of my inner experience that exists as a dialogue.

Your use of analog photographic printing on hand-woven paper creates a unique texture in your work. How do you believe this tactile element enhances the viewer’s experience and connection with your art?

It blurs the boundaries of just presenting the viewer with a pictured object. There are types of composition and details that you can see in a photograph; however, the technique I use allows me to get rid of the preconceived images of a photograph and to go beyond.

In your art, you aim to convey more than just an image. Can you elaborate on what you want viewers to feel or experience when they engage with your prints?

As I briefly mentioned in the previous questions, what I convey to the viewers is the production of a work that breaks the general idea of a ‘photographed image’ to stimulate their inner experience in their way.

Landscape painters and photographers often represent the external world in great detail, but you take a different approach by focusing on your inner landscape. How do you balance the external and internal perspectives in your work?

I believe we all have different interpretations of space and objects. I find the way our emotions work to be fascinating; our perspective changes depending on our condition and circumstances. I never say my ultimate goal is to have a fixed answer or an obvious reaction to the feeling that a particular work can evoke. However, the intimate connection between myself and the subject matter in front of me is relevant in my practice and can provide a deeper understanding of my inner self.

Untitled, 2022
Untiled, 2023
Untiled, 2021