INTO ULTRABLACK

My latest art project, entitled “Into Ultrablack,” began in 2012 in New York City. I was inspired by the word UV (ultraviolet) and coined the term "ultrablack," which indicates an imaginative crevice of absolute darkness as if we cannot see ultraviolet radiation. Entering into profound dark means you grope your way to the mystery of the unknown. Imagining unseeable presences that may exist within the dark, similarly, I observe ambiguity still presents in various binaries, such as eastern/western, nature/art, death/life, human/animal, male/female, organic/inorganic, reality/dream. The twilight surrounding these concepts overlaps with the dark history of New York City, leading me to generate cryptic imageries beyond such various hedges.


Produced images in my studio practice are the fruits of the session with the site. Surroundings often supply visual elements in my work—the scenery of my commuter’s route, studio environment, and familiar landmarks. Moreover, I acknowledge the past events of those sites. The fusion of these elements and multi-narratives sustains the central idea of my works. My previous studio was located in the former Pfizer Building, in which I found a kin relationship with the malformed organisms in my latest work. Yet, malformation also can be seen in sea creatures, vegetables, and human bodies for various causes, including radiation exposure. While the origin of the visual element is uncertain for me, this nomadic way of idea generation enriches the imagery's diversity and complexity.


My work brings a sense of mystery and Buddhism/Animism through their common narratives. One of the Buddhism leading schools called Theravada sets the sacred mountain of Sumeru in the center of its perception of the world, which inspired me to initiate my project. Manhattan Island and the conception of Sumeru overlapped, which led me to imagine a lushly green mountain thousands of years ago. The island became a significant site for the world and the capitalistic system, well-known as a cultural and notorious center rather than a religiously sacred place. The robust/dark brilliance of the island seems rooted in the crystalized worldly human desire; European invasion of the indigenous people, the market for the slave trade, gang conflict, collapse of the World Trade Center—those dark historical backgrounds supply diversified inspirational resources for a body of work.