Critic's Review

“Hyun Jean Lee's ‘Corresponding' and Interactive Art: Open the new space between the real and the virtual” (text in Korean)

- Art Magazine Culture + Seoul (Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture), August 2008

-Critique by Won-Gon Yi (art critic and professor of Graduate School of Design, Dankuk University, Korea)


Critic's Review about "Corresponding" in the exhibition <Between Man and Place>

In Corresponding, Lee Hyunjean's single-channel video piece, a woman is seen swinging her head from side to side. As the video progresses the woman's motions amplify and the momentum begins 'taking control' of the video frame. With growing intensity, the head swings rock the video frame to and fro like a sail of a ship caught in crosswinds. As the frame swings and shifts from its axis it exposes a black background.
The sound of the motion cutting through the air is puzzling: Are we hearing the swinging frame or the flying hair? The motion of the frame is equally puzzling: Is the swinging video frame displayed within another black video frame?
Reminiscent of Buster Keaton's meta-film antics (walking through the screen to join the action ) yet meditative and trance like in its effect, Corresponding is an evocative piece which questions the very nature of the space of representation. At the same time, it offers a visual metaphor for the relationship between subject-matter and context.

-Critique by Romy Achituv (Artist, Critic, and Visiting Professor of New Media, Ewha University, Korea)


excerpt from introduction of <Eight Korean Artists>

Jurors were asked simply choose the best work among the submissions. Winners in both years work in a variety of media, but despite the heterogeneity of their approaches, one can sense several common interests. The issue of Korean identity surfaces in a number of works here. So does what we might dub a collage mentality – an interest in bringing together apparently disparate elements to create a new synthesis. At the same time, artists’ field of reference varies greatly. Some artists focus on objects in the real world, transforming them into metaphors or symbols of larger forces. Others probe the psyche, and deal with states that exist primarily in the human mind.

This interest in hybridity is evident in the work of all four 2004 winners. First place winner Hyun Jean Lee’s theme is the “in between.” In her single channel and video installations this can mean the psychic space between different consciousness, the experiential space between nature and culture, or the philosophic space between the virtual real of art and the “real” existence of viewer. This latter is of particular interest to her, and she has explored a number of ways in which these different modes of reality are blended and merged.
In “the Willow Tree,“ real and virtual trade places. A projected image of a willow tree plays against a “real” environment strung with hundred of ribbons of hanging tape. But which is more true to nature--A video reproduction of an actual tree or a simulated tree composed of tape which moves and drifts like the branches of a tree? A similar conundrum occurs in “Corresponding” in which the motion suggested by video image of a woman’s turning face turns out to be created by actual movement of the video screen. With such works Lee ushers the viewer into an imaginative realm where ordinary coordinates of time and space no longer seem to apply.

-Critique by Eleanor Heartney (Art critic, Author, Contributing Editor of Art in America and Artpress)


Hyun Jean Lee’s promising work in video installation offers a contemporary art experience that eloquently raises issues about time, personal experience and nature. Her artworks provide a layered space where metaphors of natural science and representations of human self-awareness interact to create a delicate ecology. Works such as “The Sea – recognition of sea space” and “Melting Ice” are sensitive examples of Lee’s formalism where she skillfully integrates virtual space and real objects. The (distancing) coolness of video contrasts with the immediacy of sculpture to create affecting natural environments that challenge our perceptions.

-Critique by Robert Bordo (Associate Professor, Cooper Union School of Art)


Hyun Jean Lee’s video installations present evidence of the inhibited world in environments that embrace the spectator. The rustle of leaves, the crash of waves or the sound of a breath are her media. These environments invite the viewer to discover the “in-between space” that Lee constructs.

In her work from 2000 entitled “The Willow Tree,” nature is evoked in the projected image of the willow in an environment of hundreds of hanging tape ribbons. The tape mimics the flow of the windblown willow leaves in a clever manipulation of synthetic material representing the natural world. Her other 3-D video installations such as “The Sea –recognition of sea space” invite comparison to artists such as Tony Oursler and Diana Thater who merge sound and video in a painterly style with a rich visual vocabulary. The spectacle of the video surrounds the viewer and transforms the environment of the gallery.

Lee’s latest works, such as “A Bead Ball Table,” a collaboration with Jeong Han Kim, are interactive, requiring the participation of the viewer who has now crossed into the virtual space from the “in-between space” she has created in earlier works. This new direction rewards the spectator with a more intimate view of Lee’s exceptional vision.

-Critique by Michael Duffy (Museum of Modern Art, New York)


Hyun Jean Lee’s video experiments with motion involve the mysteries of illusionary space. Her trajectory offers a fresh visual experience of fleeting spatial dimensions.

Motion imposed on images is sometimes interactively induced, but more often it simulates forces from nature: wind, fire, and water, and the objects in space may be already moving like the dancer dancing, “bead balls” rolling, and artificial willow leaves rustling, or stationary piles of old newspapers, cardboard boxes, or three dimensional geometric shapes.

In Lee’s beautifully constructed formal space, artifice and nature have no meaning, where real and virtual objects work together in a perceptual dynamic. Particularly commendable in this regard is “White Space in Black Box,” where the transient emergence of spatial dimensions is projected with quite confidence; rhythms of pacing, turning, and stopping of a multiplying figure that vanishes into black or into herself just as rhythmically and repetitiously, make the hidden dimensions of white space magically appear for a moment. This young artist has an ability to challenge our visual perceptions of space.

-Critique by Wolhee Choe (Art critic)



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