Artist Myoung Ho Lee

Tree...#2

Year: 2011
Medium: Archival Inkjet print
Dimensions: 20.9H x 32.3W in
Original Artwork Price: $14,500

Representation and Reproduction

Simple in concept, complex in execution, he makes us look at a tree in its natural surroundings, but separates the tree artificially from nature by presenting it on an immense white ground, as one would see a painting or photograph on a billboard. Myoung Ho Lee enacts his works as ‘a series of discourses on deconstruction in the photography-act’. As he describes it: “It’s as if the tree unites all: the ground, the sky and man in between. In East Asian philosophy the universe breaks down into three parts: Chun-Ji-In. Chun means the sky, Ji means the ground, and In means human. Since a tree connects all three, I feel very much that a tree is like a universe.” Lee has worked on ‘Tree Series’ since 2004, where he builds and installs a canvas in the background of a tree to signify what has once been neglected.

Lee works slowly, observing each tree before photographing it. To install the large canvases, which can span approximately 60 by 45 feet, the artist enlists a production crew and heavy cranes. Through minimal digital retouching, he removes evidence of the canvases support structure, such as ropes or bars, so that it appears to float unaided behind the tree that it frames. The photographs highlight the delicacy and beauty of the trees while also flattening them, causing them to appear as unreal, two-dimensional images inserted into the landscape. Ultimately, Lee deeply examines the nature of representation and its effect on nature itself.

Myoung Ho Lee has worked on the ‘Art-Act Project’ for many years creating several series. These series awaken the essence of art by re-presenting a part of nature. The ‘Tree Series’ presents the complete figure of the tree as a metaphor of ‘re-presence’ by installing a white canvas in the back of the tree . The ‘Mirage Series’ produces an oasis or sea-like mirage far-off in the desert as a metaphor of “reproduce” by installing a white canvas on the surface of the desert. As the title “Art-Act Project” implies, Myoung Ho Lee values the work accumulated during the process as a trace of his actions rather than valuing just the final piece of the work. Lee states “As I named my works Photography-Act Project, the act is pivotal in my works. If my subject matter was something meaningful by itself, the act would be pushed aside.”