Creatures in this labyrinth are monstrous, yet also vulnerable without the shield of the social norm that defines what is good and appropriate. A small person might feel vulnerable because of other people’s perception of her as a lesser person; a pervert because of the sense of shame that is generated by the collective norm; the ugly person because of the current idea of what is beautiful and ugly. I intend to question the social order that imposes vulnerability upon people, disclosing how we are all monsters under its rule.
I want to fascinate my audience with what I am fascinated by– tragedy and violence– physical or psychological. I think there is something perverted about being fascinated by them and making art out of them. The photographer Collier Schorr said in an interview, “I like devastation. I like exhaustion. I really like seeing someone that I know can barely get up.” I think that is perverted. It is similar to watching a good horror film– you are scared by it, but you also enjoy the horrible experience. It is hard to tell if it is because of the beauty of cinematography or something within ourselves.
I am interested in personal experiences of violence rather than social, if they are separable. I pick a very specific event that actually happened, or could have happened, in an individual’s life and then universalize it. If you look at somebody very closely, to a degree where you can see their cells, it is the most intimate and yet the most universal perspective. Despite this intimacy, I always try to keep an emotional distance from my subject. It seems that the tension between the personal and objective is one of the keys that decide the success of my work.
I feel a pleasant catharsis when my audience experiences a dramatic pathos in the same space where the artwork is. Juxtaposition of different elements is one way to lead them to move around. Perhaps it can be compared to the pleasure in sex when satisfying your partner, rather than trying to satisfy just yourself. This desire to do that through art might be also perverted.
However, it is important that the audience have an experience with a certain distance that is created by the fact that what they are experiencing is not actually real but artifice. I want to always keep it in mind that I am dealing with horrible reality but after all it is fiction. A touching movie based on a true story is in the end a fiction as much as one that is not based on any true story is, so if somebody gets upset by Coen brothers’ lie about “Fargo,” it is that the person does not understand the nature of film. I do not believe that what art should and can do is showing reality itself but show processed reality. I am interested in the artificial and manipulative quality of it. If it is not possible to be perfectly honest, I prefer to play with highly elaborate lies.
Part of the reason why the concept of violence interests me so much is because I myself saw and experienced a fair amount of domestic violence while growing up. However, I try to understand it from different perspectives. Once a westerner critic who was familiar with Korean films defined their characteristic as “intense psychologicalviolence.” I think that this comes from the oppressiveness of Korea’s modern history, such as the colonization by Japan, Korean War, military juntas, mandatory military service for young men and a repressive school system. It is important for me to be aware that the violence that I experienced on a personal level comes from this social historical context even though I do not directly investigate it. It is a part of my effort to see that the oppressors are also victims who have their own loneliness.
I hope I can embrace, understand, and even love all the dark sides of people and the world. If they feel guilty about their crimes, I want to commit the same crime to experience that guilt myself, and that way I will be able to lose my morally superior position as well. This is my way of trying to forgive, and I think it also is perverted.