Along with a substantial number of fellow art
students such as Seung Yul Oh and Hye Rim Lee,
Jae Hoon Lee (no relation) arrived in New
Zealand to study at Elam School of Fine Arts as
part of a new generation of South Koreans
migrating to New Zealand in the late 1990s.
This new cultural influx, now an established part
of the New Zealand community, was sparked by a
loosening of travel regulations in the previously
A regular traveller, Jae Hoon moved to New
Zealand to complete his masters degree at Elam
School of Fine Arts, having already majored in
sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute; he is
now a doctoral candidate at Elam.
Much of the content of Jae Hoon’s work is
gathered from his nomadic lifestyle, documenting
his random encounters and creating an image bank
of his experiences. His latest exhibition Tomb, on
show at Te Tuhi in Pakuranga until 28 June, includes
a reconfiguration of pyramids photographed on a
recent trip to Egypt. Like much of his work, the
images have been digitally reconstructed brick-bybrick
in an almost sculptural manner, transforming
them into towering monoliths.
Jae Hoon’s work is primarily constructed
digitally, no doubt a result of growing up in a
media-savvy country with one of the fastest
internet take-up rates in the world. Presumably
having fellow Korean Nam June Paik (1932-2006)
leading the vanguard of international video artists
in the 1960s was further inspiration. It was no
coincidence that all three also found themselves
under the tutelage of New Zealand’s intermedia
pioneer, Phil Dadson.
Jae Hoon’s work is a consideration of the
fluidity of identity and existence, repositioning
ideas of life and death as a constant negotiation
of flux. The direct experience of touch played an
important role in his early works and he used a
flatbed scanner to capture skin, faces, leaves, and
anything else that could be absorbed into his
In 2007 Jae Hoon produced a series of three
works using the title Salvation – The University of
Auckland Art Collection has Salvation #3.
Salvation #1 and #3 are reconfigurations of the
keyboard he owned when he arrived in New
Zealand. By removing the Korean characters from
the keys, the keyboard has more ambiguous
cultural origins. It also becomes a more abstract
object, seemingly worn bare by touch and drawing
attention to the dust, hair and coffee stains;
residue of its intimate relationship with its owner.
Each work in the Salvation series was produced
in an edition of eight, as either digital photographs
or lightboxes. Salvation #2 is on show until July
as part of an Auckland City Council public art
project, illuminated on the side of a phone booth
in Lorne Street.