lee jeong lok makes mesmerizing natural landscapes through light painting
all images courtesy of lee jeong-lok




‘with light, I have been painting something that exists despite its invisible nature; places that correspond to the visible world, places beyond our sensual cognition, profoundly mysterious places that nevertheless cannot be separated from our world of cognition. painting with light is the body, mind, and the soul harmoniously following the rhythm; it was an act of delivering positive energy felt by the body, rather than creating something from nothing.’


through these words, lee jeong lok forms his creative practice, one which centers around the perception that light encompasses an almost spiritual, unearthly quality. this sentiment is evident when viewing the korean artist’s photographic works: serene natural landscapes and sprawling outdoor panoramas are pierced by the physical addition of glowing geometric forms, korean language characters and butterflies. these nighttime captures contrast the colorful lit forms that dance around the photograph’s composition, wrapping around mountainous cliffs and hovering above the sea. lee jeong lok’s three series — ‘nabi’, ‘tree of life in island’ and ‘decoding scape’ — exemplify the careful and calculated process the artist adopts in working towards a finished image, both in the real and digital realms.

from the series ‘decoding scape’




decoding scape: in this project, I intend to see phonetic letters of hangeul [the letters and language of korean people] as ideograms and hieroglyphs, in order to unravel meanings of nature from them and communicate. by observing nature, and furthermore empathizing with it, its linguistic essence can be recognized and visualized into hangeul symbols. light was used to express linguistic features containing complex elements of voice, wave, shape and more. strobe light was used during long-exposed state so that certain forms glow with light, and — to emphasize the feeling of breath, aura and wave — a light smearing effect was used.

from the series ‘decoding scape’

from the series ‘decoding scape’

from the series ‘decoding scape’




nabi: while creating this peace, I summarized lights in various symbolic forms into nabi, the butterfly. the butterfly, symbolizing a being moving from this world to the other, a spirit, was used to signify a gate and a messenger linking the two worlds. nabi, the title of my work, also means prophet in hebrew. the sphere that sometimes appears stems from the original form and order of the universe. i expressed the spirit inside the form, not the form itself, in the form of nabi, the butterfly.


‘nabi’ is presented at soul art space, busan, korea from now until april 23, 2015.

from the series ‘nabi’

from the series ‘nabi’

from the series ‘nabi’

from the series ‘nabi’

from the series ‘nabi’

from the series ‘nabi’




tree of life in island: …I struggled to find a way to express the vitality dormant in a dry branch. going through a series of experiments, I began to use light. light was the most appropriate medium to express the vitality that I discerned. moreover, the sublimity of light is a universal archetype of mankind like the numinousness of trees. my work began from here.


I needed to handle three different lights – natural light, flashlight and searchlight – for this series of work. in addition to trees, other props were required and many different kinds of films were needed for changing light and atmosphere of each day. it was impossible to control random outdoor situations that I had to face daily. it was not uncommon that outdoor sets that were built for several months would be destroyed by worsening weather conditions.


a tree of life’s light does not illuminate the world or the outside of the tree. instead, it reveals the interior space, the aura of existence. for this reason, I wanted that light to be subtle, not so spectacular. as experiments continued, the work process for the tree of life series has become stabilized. as the background was transferred from a natural setting to a stage, it became more dramatic with the aura of the tree of life further intensified.

from the series ‘tree of life in island’

from the series ‘tree of life in island’