Surreal imagery has some kind of irresistible attraction for most of us.
Myeongbeom Kim’s sculptures are surreal. They combine elements that don’t normally belong together and, in doing so, often grabs our attention. Having trees as immense antlers make the deer above look majestic. It takes us a couple of seconds to work out that this is not ‘real’, though somehow we would like it to be.
It is not clear whether Kim has an environmental agenda but many of his images can be interpreted in this way – largely because of the juxtaposition of the natural with the man-made. A sunflower in a light bulb raises many questions. Some basic (is this a real sunflower) others more conceptual: what is the relationship between nature, the sun, energy and life? Kim has a number of these light bulb sculptures, some thought-provoking, others visually intriguing.
A chair that is an integral part of a tree reminds me that all that we do, all we produce, all we consume ultimately comes from some natural source – as does the energy that we consume to produce it. Maybe one of the biggest tragedies of modern life is that it has broken our basic understanding of this intimate link between natural resources and every single aspect of our modern lives.
Have we imprisoned nature in our modern man-made world as this giant sculpture suggests? Will our imprisonment allow nature still to flourish and provide us with the essentials of life or will we stifle it and cause it to wither away?
But perhaps my favourite sculpture is the simple one shown below – a power car plugged into the wall. To me it shows the reality of modern life – we are happy to make token efforts to help the environment – plugging into electric power – but we are unwilling to give up our luxuries – we still demand our power car. This is the reality today and is likely to remain so. Environmentalists need to accept the reality and work with it rather than live in some dream world where this can be changed – except out of necessity when stuff eventually runs out.