Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Lives and Works: Seoul, South Korea
For the past twenty years, Han has been inventing mechanized sculptures that are part Dada, part Steampunk. Each autonomous machine is programmed and designed to fulfill Han’s single-minded goal: they endlessly play out the inescapable nature of change through their repetitive movement. Han believes, as Heraclitus did, that change is fundamental in the universe: All is Flux, Nothing is Stationary. Han’s kinetic curiosities are little feats of engineering – exposed custom-cut brass bones and vein-like wires fused with everyday castaway junk, spare parts of old toys and antiques give his machines a crude, low-tech, incongruous attitude. Han bestows on some machines forms resembling birds or quadrupeds. With simple motors or pulley systems, they flap, gesticulate, bob or spurt – sometimes they break down and die, but Han considers the act of replacing batteries or mending broken connections gestures of importance. The looped processes in some of his kinetic sculptures produce generative art. For example, a series of air-compression machines blow dyed bubbles relentlessly against a barren wall. Eventually an abstract painting appears. Here, time is the essential medium. In another assembly-line setup, brush-wielding robotic appendages continuously spread paint around a canvas. The action of painting is executed unemotionally according to the kinematics of their rigid systems. Naturally curious, Han reminds of someone who takes apart his clock to see its inner workings, then repurposes its parts to tick to an altogether different heartbeat. In-between metaphor and material, his work exudes character with effortless authenticity.