Han Sungpil is a Korean artist who creates artwork through the techniques of digital photography and large-scale installations. Recently, Sungpil created the series “In Between Layers,” which combined digital photography and the technique tromp l’oeil (French translation: “to trick the eye”.) Historically, the tromp l’oeil technique was used in fresco paintings to give architectural illusions on interior ceilings of Baroque style architecture. What is interesting about Sungpil’s use of the tromp l’ oeil technique is his contemporary alterations to the procedure. For his artwork, Sungpil uses large-scale, digitally printed images of buildings to cover scaffolding during building construction.
I am fascinated by Sungpil’s use of flat imagery, photography and public space to create his artwork. The artist juxtaposes two-dimensional printed backdrops of buildings by superimposing them over actual three-dimensional buildings. In the end, the artist uses these various elements to create dynamic photographs that stand-alone as pieces of fine art. The process and procedure become part of the artwork as well because there is a beautification that Sungpil is interested in for his publicly displayed installations. Sungpil uses the technique of photography and pushing the artistic intention of his artwork, which has been challenged in the past in photographic work.
In some ways I see the elements within the photos act as mere props for the finished piece of art, the photograph, but I also see the props as works of art themselves. I unknowingly walked past Sungpil’s piece in the Piazza del Popalo (Replacement, example 2) when I was living in Rome, Italy. Ultimately, the dynamic photograph resonates as artwork much more than viewing the scene in person years ago. In contrast, the “installation” was on display within a public space for an extended period of time and functioned as a piece of art as well. The digitally enhanced photographs that Sungpil takes of the monuments encapsulates an image that cannot be seen when viewing the architecture in person.