Jae Hoon Lee is set to display works for Artweek in Auckland’s CBD in early October. Ahead of the showing, the digital artist and photographer shares his favourite travel memories.
What are your strongest memories from the first overseas trip you ever took?
In the winter of 2001, during my first visit to Beijing, I encountered the old, undeveloped part of the city. It felt as if I had stepped into a time machine, transporting me back to 1950. The people in that neighbourhood were dressed in old-fashioned, shabby clothing, strolling along streets lined with ancient houses and electric poles. It was like scenes from a black-and-white classic film come to life. It was the most surreal and exotic experience, unlike anything I had ever encountered before.
What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?
I cherish the memory of a family trip to the east coast of Korea when I was just 5 years old. It marked my first encounter with a real ocean, and it was a truly magical moment. I played with my elder sisters on the shore, right in front of the waves, under a picturesque sunset sky.
Who has most inspired your travels?
Meeting random travellers or local people while on the road or in the countryside can lead to some of the most memorable and enriching experiences. These chance encounters often offer a unique glimpse into different cultures, perspectives and ways of life.
What is the greatest trip you’ve ever been on?
Being in Antarctica opened up my creative senses, emotionally and intellectually, and I wanted to experience as much as I could. I expected to see more wildlife but there’s not much of that around Scott Base. I did, however, have an encounter with an emperor penguin, a really rare thing, especially with people around. I was walking near the pressure ridge area and an emperor penguin was standing there, absolutely still, hardly moving and looking up. You don’t often see emperors that close in the wild, and in the bright sunshine, I could see all the textures, especially the texture of the skin. You could pick that up with the naked eye. Being face to face with a strange creature from another continent was like meeting an alien from outer space. Emotionally, it was a very uplifting and intensely spiritual experience.
What’s your approach to packing for an overseas trip?
Keep it small and simple.
What is the destination that most surprised you – good or bad?
Exploring landscapes that allow me to profoundly connect with my inner values, moods, emotions and creativity is a deeply enriching experience.
Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?
It is challenging to pick just one because my personal connection to sunrises and sunsets renews itself every day. I love to contemplate their timeless quality.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?
Unpack and feed my cat.
What do you miss most about home when you travel?
My warm and comfortable bed.
Where is the one destination you must see in your lifetime?
Viewing the entire Earth from space, even from my deathbed.
What’s your favourite thing about travel?
The continuous realisation of the fact that life is a timeless journey.
A Long White Cloud by Jae Hoon Lee will be shown on The Lightship at Auckland’s Bledisloe Wharf from October 7-January 21, beginning as part of ArtWeek in the City 2023. Further works from Jae Hoon Lee will be available from Glorious Digital in mid-October, and will be exhibited at Ivan Anthony Gallery from March 14-April 13.