Seo Joon Lee

About Seo Joons Beaugly Laboratory Out of a myriad of visual images he encounters especially in his daily life, Lee Seo-joon imagines to combine two mutually irrelevant and even conflicting images and give form to their combination. Keenly interested in a phenomenon resulted from this combination, the artist set up a laboratory to make deep studies of it. Lee himself named it the Beaugly Laboratory. The term “beaugly,” produced from a compound of the two words, beauty and ugly, well represents his work. The term has a complex meaning more than something simply beautiful or ugly. What the artist notes is that the imagery created by the combination of extremely contrastive, irrelevant elements takes on a completely different characteristic feature. Humans accumulate their own visual images through their visual experience. These images, reproducing other images through their combination, multiply gradually and construct their own sphere. The reproduced images, named “beaugly”, have a totally different meaning from that of already existing ones. The monster is the object the Laboratory first surveyed. The monster is a legendary, mysterious being present in the human´s imagination. Its images, from the past to the present, have been created or metamorphosed by a special melding of weird visual images. To conduct this study, the artist opens up the website ( and singles out the kids between age six and eight who are likely to have comparatively less visual experiences than adults. What he also considered are a few foreign cases in the United States and Mexico and the regional difference between Seoul and Gyeonggi province. The artist showed children several monster images after they once embarked on their drawings to avoid any banal imagery. He also particularly cautioned them to go beyond commercial cartoon characters. After then, the artist asked them a few questions about the monster´s scale, age, and other information and documented them one by one. This information obtained from the kids and his data are all jointly used for the reconstruction of monster images through his imagination. The monster images appear detained in a confinement equipment. The images rendered through this research process may be divided into two parts: the monster itself and the detention equipment. The detention equipment, suspended from a structure, is for safely detaining a monster and thus maintaining its life, not for depriving of it. Painted yellow, the equipment has a sleek surface while the structure hanging this equipment is painted red. These colors signify that something perilous is safely kept or treated as if in a nuclear power plant or an atomic energy research institute. In a different sense, they are suggestive of an amulet that is mainly used for warding off evil spirit and calamity. In the amulet often discovered in Korea, some shamanistic patterns are depicted in red on yellow paper. By employing these colors the artist applies the shamanistic function of primitive art to this equipment. While viewing the monster confined in this equipment, we become an eyewitness to testify that it no longer exists and conjure up the image of our own monster. We create our own ´Beaugly´ in our heart. In other words, we witness the site where the images inherent in other´s mind come out, mingle with another one, and at last become one and the same. The images we see at the site become latent in our mind as a new visual experience. The ´Beaugly´ assumes a role as a catalyst to spur up the viewer´s imagination and also a window to look at another world. Lee Seo-joon´s Beaugly Laboratory is to produce more diverse ´Beauglys´ and continue to invent other kinds of worlds. By Shin Seung-o (Curator of Dukwon Gallery ,Seoul Korea)