In the past, images relied on physical structures for distribution and existence. Today, these images, summoned in the form of data, stride through the internet independently. The surfaces constructed by Sun Woo appear as though memes from the net and symbols from classical paintings have been jaggedly pasted onto one another, then neatly trimmed. Like the layers in Photoshop, these images are overlapped and combined, and the intersections created in this process act simultaneously as clues for understanding their relationships, as well as a blank space that consists of empty symbols. Each component, such as stock images from the web, is separated by invisible layers, interfering with one another's boundaries without crossing them. The shadow created by a steel frame seems to have brought the drop-shadow effect from Photoshop into the real world. In Sun Woo's previous exhibitions, one could perceive images that seemed to escape from the bounds of the frame and infiltrate into the white cube. Mangled images that are stretched, cropped and distorted, appeared to return to the real world as they interacted with the exhibition space. Breathing together with the paintings hanging on the wall, these images seemed to manifest a subtle tension between the virtual and real. Both within and beyond the physical boundary of painting, images revealed themselves based on our visual systems through the physical labor of digital editing and painting. At a certain, unspecified point in time, digital images ceased to exist as mere representations and began to breathe as fragments of the real world. What we need to note is that images have always been a visual index pointing to our desires and fears, regardless of what had produced them or what physical structures had supported them. Clothed in traumatized narratives of the past, these images become 'bruised images,' becoming distributed and consumed rapidly in order to reach the place that we want them to be. As a subject who absorbs and consumes changes in the contemporary reality, Sun Woo is at once an artist who performs the long-held role of painting, as well as an anonymous user who continuously repeats the act of appropriation, replication, and mutation.
Nah Garam Independent curator
Press release courtesy Gallery Chosun.