Young Kyu Yoo studied photography at JoongBu University in Korea and in 2005, moved to New York for a new perspective. Since then, he has been published in many publications including W Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar. Young answers some questions for 01, and shares some images of his series, Combine of Shapes.
Can you tell me about your upbringing and background?
I was born in Seoul Korea in 1979.
Why did you move from Korea to New York and how do those places compare to you? Has your choice of subject matter changed since your move?
Well, I was really tired. I just wanted some break time. It was not important to me which city or country I went to. NY and Seoul are both important places to me. I can`t compare them. I probably have changed my mind for work and subject matter after coming to NY. There are so many different kinds of races of people living in NY.
What is your series Combine of Shapes about?
It is very simple work. The shapes, line, directions, and movements of all creations starting with me are constantly combining and contrasting in multiple dimensions though my own visual vocabulary. I want to evoke effects of mirrors, interactions of lines and shapes, and sometimes the stages unruled by the fourth dimension of time.
You describe working on Combine of Shape similar to building a puzzle. Can you tell us a bit more about your process for this series?
I create the images. Sometimes that image can be a snapshot or a set up shoot. (It depends) I match every single image separately each representing a particular point of view. That part is like a puzzle to me. I build patiently and add each piece together to complete the whole.
There is a beautiful thoughtfulness and intimate sensitivity to your surroundings and the people around you in your work. How does this reflect your own personality traits ?
I love all those people and my surroundings. Their movements, love, shapes are the ideas that inspire me.
You once said that “Art can not come before life”.
That means I can`t make art without my family and friends. My family and friends are more important to me than my work. Who is not?
Does most of your personal work derive from spontaneous moments? How does this work with the statement above when you are observing life from an outside perspective?
When I started combing work for the first time, my work derived from spontaneous moments. But this is changing, and now I am making plans before shooting.
In some way, the concept of people having similar goals and overlapping ideas can be exciting for some people since the culture and diversity gaps are shrinking. It almost suggests the emergence of an undifferentiated pool of experience, reflects the predominance of mass production as applied to the human condition. I have believed that people`s unique characteristics and ideas make our life fun and exciting. Therefore, revealing this overlap phenomenon is boring and disappointing, but what fascinates me is that I`m able to give characteristics to these people who are included in this overlap circle.
Who has influenced you creatively?
All creations and my surroundings and people of movements and shapes.
Your body of work is a nice balance of fine art, personal work, and editorial work. Has anyone inspired you in a career sense?
I don’t know why my work is good balance. I never think about that and I don`t know who has inspired me. But I really like Walter Pfeiffer and Wolfgang Tillmans`s work.
Do you find it easy to carry over your style from your personal work to your editorial work?
I don`t divide my personal work and editorial work.
What are a few things that are hanging on your walls?
Just two things are hanging on my wall. First one is “Middle of the Road” poster by Miniature Garden. The second one is a vintage wooden puppet of Pinocchio.
Where is one place that you would like to see in person?
If I could go to August 1969, I`d love to see the “Woodstock Festival”. Haha..
When are you the happiest with your own work?
When I am starting a new project.
Can you tell us more about your latest series Strangely Beautiful? What’s next for you?
I can’t tell you details about “Strangely Beautiful”, as I have just started it, and the title may change. I just can tell you the story is about a young Korean girl’s rhythmic gymnastics. I want to take pictures of her strange and beautiful movements and shapes. I am planning on working on this project until next summer.