The photographic sculpture Three Ginseng Roots is a commissioned artwork for River Park Place in Richmond, BC. Balancing modern materials and processes with natural forms and colours, the three glass panels are installed within the water feature to give the sense that the roots are floating.
Ginseng is a medicinal plant used by many cultures and especially in traditional Chinese medicine. Rare and precious specimens that have been found in the wild can be seen on display at the many herbal stores in Richmond. Ginseng is also grown on farms throughout Canada, including on the Fraser River. The artwork promotes good health, well-being and connection with nature.
It is said that the dried roots resemble human figures. These roots have been enlarged to the size of a person to make them come to life and so that viewers will imagined their own characters and personalities for them them
In Ichiban, the artist mixes paint and instant ramen noodles with other found objects to create experimental sculptures that consider the artificial nature of “instant” food, as well as reflecting on ephemeral form and temporality in the artworks themselves. Like the companion work, Fugazi, Ichiban alludes to the complex relationship between that which is “real” and that which is “artificial” in our contemporary culture and art. Lee’s project reflects on his earlier works, such as the Dollar Store Still Life series (2006), which also examined the economic and cultural values of fake and artificial consumer goods
Fugazi consists of 5-by-5 foot prints created from digital scans of cubic zirconia, relatively inexpensive but high quality imitations of diamonds. A “Fugazi“ is a slang term used in Mafia films for a counterfeit diamond. The images are captured at a high level of detail and are enlarged fifteen thousand percent to a scale that renders the gems’ internal appearance as mesmerizingly random, distorted and fractured, while the effects of digital image-loss and artifacting emerge to aid in their visual transformation. The patterns of abstract shapes and reflected colours appear kaleidoscopic and at times groundless, an aesthetic that Lee manipulates further by constructing geometric backgrounds in response to the resulting visual space.
Fugazi also continues the artist’s interest in psychedelia, illusion and optics, as explored in such earlier works as Every Part from a Contaflex Camera… (2006); Stain (2003); and Phoropter (2012). Contrary to the reproducible nature of photography, each of the Fugazi prints, made on fine art paper, exists only as a signed unique edition of one.