Hyounsang Yoo explores relationships between history and the production of idealized realities using photography, video, installation, and sculpture. Yoo references image production and memory as a strategy to recontextualize cultural histories, globalized mass media messaging, and outline socio-political landscapes of consumer markets. Yoo has exhibited in the New York Bridge Art Fair, EXPO Chicago, Netherlands Drents Museum Assen, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others. He has received several awards including the Snider Prize Museum of Contemporary Photography, International Photography Awards, PhotoSpiva, and Korea’s Selected Artists Belt. Yoo received his BFA and MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute Chicago.
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My works explores relationships between history and ideas of production of reality thorough image making process. This body of work uses multiple references to global history of photography production and memory as one of strategies of re-enactment to interrogate the relevance of the past in relationship to the present. My practice is informed and shaped by transition.
I look to mass media as a starting point because it provides an outline of the socio-political landscape. I take the source, which is often a specific political and historical event. I then strip it from its context, leaving only the relationships between people, in individuality and as a group, and the event. I then manipulate and translate this information; with it I compile, reinterpret, and categorize the elements within the original image. Even though the final product is often heavily manipulated, staged, and stripped of contextual information, the generated images are still capable of portraying the political and historical context.
I am thus exploring how the individual or group that produces mass media is imprinting some contextual memory on the images associated with these political and historical events. Specifically, each of these individuals or groups is a function of the political and historical context within which they live. Consequently, they are unable to produce an unbiased image, thus even when manipulated, my final images are still capable of triggering the memory of the viewers. However, because historical and political context is heterogeneous in space and time, each memory response is a function of where the viewer is from and what event is being portrayed. This work thus allows me to question how political and social differences in a globalized world shape our individual memory response.
I aim to create bodies of work in conversation with the question of the experience of time and visibility throughout events. My work looks to Virilio’s Dromology and Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. As Virilio states “the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases”, while Baudrillard contends that the Simulacra depicts things that either had no reality to begin with, or that no longer have any original meaning. I investigate both fronts by questioning the Simulacra of the process of image making. In particular, I attempt to understand what it means to move forward in relation to time.
My analysis is mediated by an understanding that the future does not evolve in isolation but rather is a function of what has happened in the past. This begs the question of what is progress? Is it creating distance between the past and the present or is it a future that encompasses the greatest amount of information from the past? In these works, I continue to discover the complexity of moments that can be instantaneously swift, slow, fast, loud, quiet, visible, invisible, stable to unstable, and explore the possibility of an image-making process that can contain this complexity.
To see more of Hyounsang’s work, check out his website.