An Artist Who Paints Portraits With Mold
By Margaret Rhodes, http://www.wired.com
A few years ago South Korean artist Seung-Hwan Oh read a BBC article about this fungus problem affecting film archives. He realized they were right: “I noticed that mold on badly stored film can eat away and destroy its contents,” he says. “And then I realized that I may deliver the idea of impermanence of matter applying this natural disaster into my work.”
It’s a heady notion, but when Oh talks about ‘impermanence’ he’s talking about the “idea that all the matter, including all the life forms, collapse in the spatial-temporal dimension we belong to.” It’s his inspiration in this series, and it’s based on the second law of thermodynamics, which states that as usable energy in the universe gets used—to power life, and grow organisms—unusable energy increases and creates a state of growing randomness and chaos.
Put differently, Oh started letting mold grow on his film. Rather than worrying about fungus, he embraced it.
To do that Oh had to set up a micro-fungus farm in his studio. Film gets stashed away in a warm, wet environment where fungus can grow. Oh will sometimes take mold that grows naturally on bread and rice and paste it into the prints, but that’s about as much control as he can exercise over the outcome. Read more