I. IDEA SKETCH
We began with our common grounds. Both Min and I are from South Korea, so we share a cultural, environmental, and national background. We started out by writing and sketching what came to our mind when we think of Korea, which often were cultural, aesthetic images of Korea. Then, our direction became more focused on our personhood and individuality. We decided to take onto more direct merge of our images, so that we emphasize our individuality as well as combine our shared features as Koreans.
We were most inspired by the bold modification of body-images in the following portraitures:
We also took hints from my personal project, and decided to paint our bodies for our portraits, and photograph ourselves in a dark background. A few photographs from my past work <Is She Some Body> (2017):
III. EXPLORATION: PHOTO SHOOT
We discussed and picked the colors we’d like to put on our bodies, and painted them one another. Each of us came up with one simple yet meaningful phrase in Korean and wrote them on one another. Mine, which Min wrote underneath my eye, is “살아, 지고,” which means “is made to live,” “live, carry,” “live, lose” depending on how one interprets it with the comma. I wrote “올라, 가고,” on Min’s cheek, which means “to go up,” or “climb, go.” We took approximately 120 portraits, in which we presented ourselves in various poses, some of them being close up faces while others the entire upper bodies.
IV. MERGE: EDIT
We used my body as the base image for a merged version, and Min’s face as the base image for a merged version. I took parts from Min’s painted body and edited them onto mine, and Min took parts from the image of my face and edited them onto his. I placed cropped images from Min’s body in sharp, angled shapes on my round, curvy body. On the other hand, Min took round shapes from my face and put them on his face image. I used parts with paints on, and arranged them in the way the whole composition emphasize the contrast between the sharp shapes of pasted images and my round-edges body. I wanted the merge to be abstract and disturbing but also symbolic and organic.
V. MERGED: FINAL
We merged the body and the face. Our portrait depicts both of us, but it is none of us. It reminds me that both-ness and neither-ness are one pair. As soon as I recognize my eye, I instantly notice the thick dark eyebrows that aren’t mine. When I look at Min’s chin, I also notice the small lips that aren’t Min’s. The portrait stays in between familiarity and strangeness. We’ve alienated our images from ourselves, so we can create an image of ourselves together. However, despite all the contrasts and abstractions, the portrait has one human figure, with emotions on the face and a motion on the body. The figure stands in coherence as one organism, as one energy.