As a masters student at Auckland University Lee began using a flatbed scanner to record changes in his skin. He documented sore, pores, freckles and hairs in gross detail, pressed up against the glass, then collaged the scans to create sheets of skin, deranged diaristic bodyscapes, which he presented as photographs and videos. The work combined the organic and the technological in a way that was surprising at the time. Simultaneously beautiful and repulsive, intimate and abject, it unsettled one's familiar sense of the body. Over the next few years Lee made numerous works expanding on his idea of the skin portrait, increasingly using scans of other people's bodies. By fusing different people's skin he played off the assumption that our skin defines us as individuals, separating us from others.
From this base of concerns and strategies, Lee's work has expanded in the last few years, into a range of video and photographic works, including lightboxes, that embrace pornography and religion, the abject and the spectacular; that engage the natural sublime and the technolgical sublime; that conflate high-tech artifice and monstrous bodily organicism; and that fuse vernacular experience with a sense of the religious or spiritual. The work continues to hint at new forms of visual experience as he combines a photographic logic with the isometric perspective-free gaze of the scanner and the 'planiverse' collaging tools of the computer.
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Images by Jae Hoon Lee (from the top): Becoming (2003), Salvation #2 (2006), Two Holes (2008), all digital prints, editions of 8